“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
― Marc Riboud
This week’s creative interview features photographer Bethany Erin Willson!
Bethany is a fine art film photographer who lives in North Texas with her husband and daughter. Her beautiful photos helped inspire my deep love for film photography, and when you see her photos you’ll fall in love with film, too! We became friends through social media, and then I had the privilege of meeting her in person when we both interned with Bows and Arrows last spring. In addition to being an incredibly talented photographer, she is such an energetic and cheerful person who is beautiful inside and out (as you can see from the gorgeous photo of her above!!), and I’m over-the-moon excited to feature her! In addition to shooting weddings she loves photographing families, and you can see both wedding and family portraiture below. Bethany has been featured in Magnolia Rouge, The Fount Collective, and Belle Lumière.
How did you discover your love for photography?
I have always loved capturing memories of my family and friends, especially during fun times and on vacations. I knew I wanted an SLR camera my senior year of high school, but put off making the purchase until right after graduating college. I didn’t pursue photography in college because I knew photography classes worked with film (!), and I assumed that was not relevant to shooting digital, which I assumed was what I would be shooting. Lesson number one: don’t make assumptions! From there I began photographing my niece, my siblings, families from my church, and then began to branch out into the community.
A little over a year into shooting digital, I realized that there were some photographers that were returning to film. At first I was just curious, but began to realize that I loved the qualities of film – the colors, the skin tones, the dynamic range. It wasn’t long until I started looking into purchasing film gear, but I found it to be pretty intimidating, and spent over a year searching out what others were using, reading reviews, and comparing people’s work done on different cameras. I have now been shooting film for a year and a half, and I couldn’t be happier that I finally made the switch!
What is your favorite aspect of the photography medium?
Capturing memories. I love being able to look back through photographs to remember the little things.
Can you explain a little about fine art film photography for those who have never heard of it?
Film photography is a lot like regular photography, except instead of capturing images digitally on a memory card they are captured on rolls of film. The fine art aspect to me involves the details of the session: the styling of the wardrobe and accessories, the location, the light. Everything needs to come together in an authentically beautiful way.
The upfront cost of shooting film is higher, since there are significant costs involved with purchasing film and having it developed. This makes photography a slower, more deliberate process for me. I shoot three rolls of film at a typical session, which is a total of 48 frames. I usually deliver between 40-45, though I only guarantee 30 images. Because the actual number of photographs taken is so much lower for me with film than digital, more thought is given to every pose before pushing the shutter. I am very careful to make sure the lighting is perfect, that everyone looks great, and that I am going to love the finished image. At first I worried that film would make it more difficult to capture genuine and candid moments, but it has actually made it easier. Because I make sure everything is perfect, I actually love my candid shots even more now!
Which photographers have inspired you most?
When first starting out in photography I consistently followed the work of Stacy Reeves, a former Dallas wedding photographer now living and working in Paris, France. Whenever I started shooting film I have been inspired by Jen Huang and Erich McVey.
What is your advice for aspiring photographers?
Don’t be afraid of film! Learn your gear, and focus on taking quality images over quantity. I will always love a handful of amazing images any day over a ton of mediocre images.
What is your idea Saturday?
Sleeping a little later than usual, snuggling with my baby and husband, having tea, cooking one of our favorite meals, and going for a walk with my husband and daughter (at the very end of the day when it’s not 100 degrees!).
Bellow is a collection of some of Bethany’s incredible wedding and family portraiture.
Website: bethanyerinphotography.com (families) bethanyerinweddings.com (weddings)
Facebook: Bethany Erin Photography