*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
When wedding photographers say that they shoot with film, it usually means that they shoot 90% digital, and then they throw a little film into the mix as a bonus. Film has a totally different quality from digital photography, but it’s really hard to incorporate film into the fast pace of a wedding day. Things are moving quickly, lighting changes, and you tend to shoot a lot of images (like, in the thousands), so finding a way to make film viable for your workflow is a challenge. So when APW’s newest sponsor, Maryland’s Matoli Keely Photography, told me she shoots 80% film at her weddings, and the photos I was looking at were THAT good, I spit out my coffee. (Most of the pictures you see in this post? You guessed it. Film.)
Matoli Keely grew up in Cameroon, West Africa, before moving to Indiana as a teenager, and finally settling in her current home of Maryland. Matoli describes her teenage self as a “bookish, shy nerd,” which you can see all over the quiet ease with which she takes her photos (especially her film work).
So why film? Matoli’s process is all about slowing down, and capturing the best moment, not firing off a hundred shots and hoping she caught it. With film, Matoli has to be extra intentional about how she approaches your images, because she only has a limited number of exposures she can shoot throughout the day. Matoli says:
There are a lot of photographers out there. We all have the same or similar gear, bags, and gadgets, and often times it is difficult to really stand out as an individual. My background, experiences, and life journey allow me to bring a unique perspective and interpretation to photography that no one else can replicate. Film photography was considered a lost art form once digital came around with large megapixels and fast shutter speeds. But film is a fantastic medium that I believe best tells the stories I want to tell, and the technique, patience, and skill involved in it enables me to push my creativity and present couples with images that are unique and true to who they are.
If you’re worried that shooting with film means Matoli Keely isn’t going to deliver a complete product to you, Matoli has you totally covered. While she’s shooting away with her film camera, Matoli has trained a second shooter to be there capturing digital images in her specific style, so you end up with comprehensive coverage of your wedding in both analog and digital format. Matoli explains:
For all my weddings, I have two cameras on me, my digital and film camera, and use them simultaneously. Most importantly I have a second shooter that is capturing the day solely on digital. My second shooter is someone that I not only trust, but is also of the same caliber as I am, photography-wise. For the most part, I shoot one to two rolls of black and white film during receptions, the rest of the time I am shooting digitally with on and off camera lighting. It may not be the most conventional way of shooting a wedding, but when film is incorporated, it makes the experience a much more memorable one in the end.
Matoli Keely‘s skill and personality are such that your mom is going to hire Matoli for her wedding, then you’re going to turn around and hire her for your own because the pictures are that good. And while Matoli is definitely passionate about her art, she isn’t about stiff posing or turning your wedding into a photoshoot (because no thanks). Instead, she focuses on getting to know you, so that she can approach your day candidly as a photojournalist. As Matoli explains:
A great story is one in which you know the characters and their history, and ultimately what makes them unique. Therefore getting to know my couples is very important to me, because I want to capture who they are as both individuals and as a couple. I just want to be your friend frankly, because then I am able to tell your epic story, which is really what it is all about—two lives coming together and starting a whole new narrative. I don’t believe I can do this without building a relationship with you first, and with that in place, I just tag along on your day and capture artistic, unobtrusive, genuine, and authentic imagery.
On Marriage Sessions
A lot of wedding photographers offer free engagement session with their packages, but Matoli Keely takes a slightly different approach. She offers complimentary anniversary sessions with some of her wedding packages, with the idea being that marriage is just as important to document as your wedding. Matoli explains:
I started offering complimentary first year anniversary session with some of my wedding packages. Building a lasting relationship with my couples is very important to me. I never just show up on the wedding day to take photos—I spend time prior to the wedding and LOVE to spend time after the wedding either meeting up for drinks or dinner! The Anniversary session gives couples time to reconnect again, celebrate their marriage, and reflect on the past year.
Matoli Keely’s prices start at $2,750, which includes six hours of coverage, an assistant, a complimentary engagement session, and all your images delivered to you in an online gallery. Her more expensive packages include the complimentary anniversary session above, and the $3,850 package even includes all-day coverage, a second shooter, and an 8×8″ fine art matted album.
My favorite kinds of wedding photographers are the ones who understand that weddings are about the start of a marriage. My second favorite kind of photographers are the ones who use film. So I could not be more excited to introduce APW to Matoli Keely Photography today, because she’s killing it at both.