Jose Villa is arguably one of the top wedding photographers in the world. He photographed celebrities, musicians, artists, and high profile couples that one could ever dreamed of photographing. His work is everywhere in comparison to some of the greats of our time like Annie Leibovitz.
One day, a client had said that my work is very similar to his work and wanted me to play around with his presets called For the Love of Film or FTLOF featured in DVLOP.
Disclaimer: I wasnt paid by DVLOP to write this article. However my client did but that is a separate matter.
The photos below are my work edited on my "preset" and Jose Villa's Presets.
How I edited my work
Before applying his preset, I edited how I wanted to edit. Its very light, adding a touch of warm with colors like, yellows, oranges, and reds. Cool, if the environment has blues, purples, greens. However, adding too much contrasts to the skin can add unflattering, unbalanced, skin tones.
Reds are added more because in film, especially Fujifilm 400H saturates them.
I was amazed how close I am to his edits. He has a hint of green in the shadows and it adds that soft overlay that creates a sheen as if theres a plate of glass over it. This is a very very important characteristic in film because it also is one of the ingredients to having that timeless look.
I've only balanced the highlights and shadows to make it flatter and get that soft look.
Jose Villa Wins!
In this scenario, I actually prefer Jose Villa's Preset because it has a darker green to the overall image. The bright tones really flatten out the image.
How I did it
There is a combination of Gear, Lighting, Editing, and Environment to achieve this Film-Like Look.
Gear: It's clear that Jose's work uses lenses with very shallow depth of field to separate the subject from the background. Having an aperture of F1.2-F2 creates this almost 3D affect. I currently own a lens called ISCO 80mm F2. A lens that is very sought after amongst wedding photographers, at least the ones who are very particular about their gear. There's maybe less than 100 of copies that is DIY'd to fit into a medium format. The combination of the Fujifilm GFX and this lens's characteristics, is what I've hoped help to create a timeless look.
Lighting: This factor very much ties in with the environment because while film may seem spontaneous, and having shot a ton of weddings, portraits, it's imperative that I find that best "Angle of Light" to create either a soft glow on the skin. This decreases the contrast but thats very much what organic film stocks do.
Editing: As far as editing goes, I try not to get into this because it is my formula that makes my style, mine.
Environment: Part of my itinerary as a wedding photographer with my obsession for the best light, gear, and editing, is how I take my environment seriously. I question my environment each time I arrive, seeing that we were surrounded by trees at a later time of day, with very low contrast, this ties everything together. It was the perfect "storm" to get the photos we could ever get.
Reading Jose Villa's interviews, approach, books, I aspire to be this wonderful photographer. His work creates a timeless, exquisite approach to wedding photography. He mainly uses film and Canon 1v, as far as some of his past work is concerned, with the old and dying Fujifilm 400h. I am glad that I had a wonderful client who let me play with his presets.