Eric Kelley and his wife Lora not only own two coffee shops in Charlottesville, Virginia, but
they also shoot 20 to 30 weddings per
year on film. “Film changed how I
photograph,” Eric says. “I do the work
before I take the photo—I don’t have
to take 20 shots of the cake and decide
later which one I like better. I take one
shot of the cake, because I make sure
everything looks great in the composition and exposure before I take my
shot.” With a full-time studio manager,
an intern, Lora styling and assisting,
and Eric serving as primary shooter,
he estimates that with film he spends
an hour culling a single wedding and
another hour doing a run-through
tweak, saving himself many hours in
post. “In the end, I am able to do more
with my time, and when I first see my
images, they look their best,” Eric says.
The Kelleys mapped out their film
workflow and cost for us, showing how
feasible shooting film can be.
• Prep for weekend wedding, printing
out all directions, timelines and shot
• Check all equipment and prep bags
with film. “We shoot 40 to 75 rolls of
film per wedding,” says Lora.
Shoot, shoot, shoot.
Rest/family day. “We try not to do
anything on Sunday,” Lora says.
• Unpack and tidy everything from
the weekend; check inventory for
stock, and note how many rolls of
film are needed for the following
week (rolls of film cost the Kelleys
between $4.50 and $11).
• Fill out the order form to Richard
Photo Lab (RPL) in Los Angeles,
including the type of film needed,
how many rolls are being sent from
the past weekend’s wedding, how
it should be scanned, the amount
of prints needed and the name of
each job. “Developing, scanning and
processing a roll of film averages $18
to $32 per roll,” Lora estimates.
• Ship everything overnight on
Monday so it gets there Tuesday.
• Once film arrives at RPL, the lab
develops and scans each roll.
• After the film is scanned, the staff
processes it, which includes a quality
assurance check and a color profile
or a color pack match. The Kelleys
have a custom post-processing/edit-
ing profile. “This is something RPL
can develop for any photographer
once you’ve determined your style”
Eric says. “The lab tweaks all of the
images to match how I like my im-
ages to look, i.e., stronger blacks or
brighter highlights. They also check
for dust spots, etc.”
• When the film is entirely processed
and perfect, RPL puts all images on
an FTP for the Kelleys to download.
Depending on the time of the year
(wedding season, huge orders and
backlogs can set a lab back), the
Kelleys receive their processed images
within two to six weeks of initial sending. The type of scanner you prefer
also plays a part in the timeline.
Frontier scanners painstakingly scan
images frame by frame, but they can
arguably get more details and crisper
blacks, whereas Noritsu scanners
can scan more frames at a time, and
therefore the processing is more swift.
“After four years using RPL, we’ve
used both types of scanners, and with
our custom profile, the lab nails it for
us either way,” Lori says.
400 - 120 + 220
800 | 3200
BW 400 Kodak
800 | 3200
BW 400 Kodak
Contax 645 (two)
35mm film (one)
evening and sweaty
Eric and Lora Kelley | One Intern | One Full-Time Studio Manager
Richard Photo Lab