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A Closer Look At Film Wedding Photography With Tong Ngoc Hieu

A pre-wedding photo album has become an important part in Asian weddings . Couples spend great efforts in getting the best one for their wedding. If you look around, there are various wedding photo styles on the market, most of which are taken with digital cameras with great investment from the couples. However, the vintage style has never gone away. There are more and more young couples opt for an option to get their pre-wedding photo taken by a film camera. We sat down with Tong Ngoc Hieu, a film photographer in Sai Gon, to decode this new wedding photography trend.  

The advantage of film wedding photography

A raw moment captured by Hieu
A raw moment captured by Hieu
  • Special color:
    Wedding photos taken by a film camera have a distinctive color tone compared to ones by digital camera. It has a warm and unique color, which brings out a vintage feel. You will be transported back to Hong Kong in the 90s or the famous Wong Kar-wai movie scenes. This special effect is the combination of the film, light condition as well as the film development methods. You can use Photoshop to replicate that style on digital photos but the result will still be significantly different. As many of the young couples now enjoy vintage style, film wedding photography becomes a popular choice for those who want a unique and artistic photo album.  
  • Raw emotions:
    The core of film wedding photography is to capture the raw moments. Hieu prefers to let the couple relax and interact naturally rather than setting up the poses. He said “I always hope to convey the unfiltered emotions of them through my photos”. Most photos will be taken in the daily life settings without too much setups.This is applicable in not only Hieu’s photos but also most wedding photos by film camera. Consequently, they are more touching and relevant to the viewers. 
  • The extra souvenir:
    Beside the general outcomes such as a printed photo album and digital files that you can share with the world, you also own the actual films used in the photo sessions. Be sure to discuss with the photographer ahead of time and collect these films as a souvenir. They are more than just a memory. You can scan them again and get the original photos anytime you want in the future. 

Tips for couples who want to take film wedding photos

Relax is the best advice that Hieu will give to couples
Relax is the best advice that Hieu will give to couples

Minimum setup doesn’t necessarily mean you just blindly come into a film wedding photo session. Hieu offers some valuable recommendations and tips for wedding photos through our interview with him

  • Get to know the photographer:
    The first advice for couples is to create a relationship with the photographer. Taking the pre-wedding photos is an interactive process between the couples and the photographer. Both sides should spend time getting to know each other: how they interact, what are their behaviors, etc… If you have time and resources, it is a good idea to have a short test photo session before the main one. It will help the photographer understand the couple better while getting the couple used to posing in front of the camera.
  • Discuss the concept beforehand:
    The second tips for wedding photos that Hieu gave out is to have a discussion before the photo session. Couples should explain their expected outcomes and any ideas they hope to integrate (indoor or outdoor locations , style, props, etc…). Based on that, the professionals can help bring them to life and make those ideas better. 
  • Relax and be yourself:
    Don’t try to force a pose if you don’t feel comfortable as it will show on the result. You won’t want to get back the photos that didn’t show who you are. An important recommendation for wedding photos is to relax. You can consider it as a normal hangout with your significant other and leave the rest to the photographers. They will help you capture the best moments.  

About Tong Ngoc Hieu

Couple photo take by Hieu
Couple photo take by Hieu

Hieu started his photography career a bit later than the normal, at the age of 25. As he gave up his 9 to 5 office work, he quickly decided to take on the mission to capture the raw moments and emotions using photography. Film photography, in particular, has been the best method for him to do so. This method is much more demanding than the digital option. Not only is it difficult to use a film camera, where you have to do most of the work manually, he also has to put effort in choosing the right film to use as well as waiting for it to be developed and scanned into the final result. Instead of seeing the taken photo immediately, both him and his clients have to wait at least a whole day to know the outcomes of their work. “When I used a digital camera, the goal was to take as many photos as possible as I can choose the best one later”, Hieu said, “Film photography allows me to slow down and think twice before I press the button”. Besides, there is a limit to how many photos you can take. A film roll has 36 shots compared to the unlimited number of a digital camera. Consequently, the photographer has to be more cautious and try to capture the best moments only. Hieu spends more time adjusting the elements as well as waiting for the right shot. Many precious photos were taken thanks to this.

Let’s have a look at some other film pre-wedding photos taken by Hieu. If you are interested in knowing more about his work, contact him on his facebook here

Picture from Tong Ngoc Hieu
Picture from Tong Ngoc Hieu
Picture from Tong Ngoc Hieu
Picture from Tong Ngoc Hieu
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