A wedding with Francisco Chavira

Okay so i’ll start by being honest, for this post I shot only 5 instant images and will only be sharing 5. I know, I know, you are probably thinking some thing along the lines of BOOOOO. How does the co-founder of an instant photography blog only shoot 5 images?! Let me explain…

I am a 99% all film shooter, well more like 99.5% I shoot digital so little, that when I do, I forget there is an LCD. Film is my life. So when clients come to me, because we live in a digital era, I see instant film as a necessity. Not only is it a way I love to shoot, but it serves as a way for my clients to feel confident in me and get instant gratification. Its my bridge between, the shoot, lab processing time, and final delivery. So my clients get a peak of what is to come.

On any shoot, whether my personal shoots with models or wedding clients. I always have an SX70, my land camera or 4×5 and a truck load of instant film with me. The wedding day started perfectly, I had everything planned, had finished photographing getting ready and was headed to the first look. First look, check, wedding party group and individual portraits, check. Now came my favorite time. Portraits of the bride and groom.

There I was, Bronica ETRSi, Canon EOS3, Land Camera and Sx70 charged and ready to fire. We start walking around and I get in the zone running and spotting great light in Downtown Sacramento. I spot “The Zone”, a cheesy name I give to the perfect patch of light. This time it happened to be a streak of sun reflecting from a sky scrapper down, like a big huge beauty dish. Making the the bride glow so beautifully and the groom get drenched in gorgeous soft light filling in shadows. Just the most gorgeous light. Bride and Groom all oiled up and happy as can be, snuggling and enjoying the moment. This is the time I instantly knew, SX70 comes out and I start snapping. Px70 Color Protection, dial darkened 2 notches { for you curious kids }. Shots eject, shielded like a champ and in they go to develop in my insulted and cool bag. I was worried of heat, as that day was going to be 100 degrees. I just knew I nailed the shot. The film developed beautifully. No orange or excess yellow. Just perfect.

I pull out my Land Camera because I was making a conscious effort to shoot more pack film and I knew this light was perfect. After all I did order 10 packs of fp100c to just have a blast with. Focus, dial lightened 2 nothces because I prefer the more overexposed look of fp100c. I shoot 5 sheets like nothing, slide out like butter and into my bag to develop. Done, and off we go to another location. I found a great spot and just got really focused with my Bronica and I forgot about my sheets and instant cameras. Time for the ceremony. I get to the car and peel my photos. BLACK, just like a black hole, it swallows up all my excitement and my heart drops. These where not underexposed images, as I quickly check the drying negative. My heart sinks even lower, I instantly know it can be few things. Dead batteries or dead camera. Quickly I change the batteries, hold up to my ear to hear the two clicks of a living shutter… nothing… my nightmare is a reality. I pull out the modded battery pack for a closer inspection. Turns out  the wires I had so carefully soldered together came apart. Where is superman when you need him with his heat ray vision?

So grateful the Bride and Groom, where not there to see the results. I had back up instant photos with my SX70. So I didn’t have to explain. I just dazzled them with the integral film and they didn’t ask about it. Of course I was devastated, but you must move on. Later, I took them out for some California sunset photos and again I found the same light as earlier. The reflecting sun off of the glass covered reception hall. It was perfect.

As a result, I have my 5 shots and a story of devastation to share. The Bride and Groom were thrilled with the shots, as were the guests and parents of the Bride. As was I! But at the end of the night 10 packs of instant film still unused I felt a little defeated by the possibilities and the what could have been. Worse could have happened and the camera can be easily repaired. I just think of the gorgeous colors of fp100c that I could have achieved. As any wedding photographer can tell, stuff happens, just move on.

So, I want to know. Have any of you had any issues with instant cameras on wedding days or shoots? Anything you do to avoid problems? Any tips on handling film as you shoot? Share some tips below and lets get a discussion going to try and avoid some issues and heartbreak.




  1. Happens to us all – great photos though 🙂

  2. My favorite camera for weddings is my Spectra. It’s faster to shoot with than the Sx70 and Land Camera 180, though I agree with you about the beautiful tones of FP100C, and a lot more convenient. Thankfully, no big issues with my instant cameras while on a shoot. Fingers crossed!

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