Getting Started with Film

with sandra coan

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april 09, 2018
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may 07, 2018
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Full Participation sold out.
Study Along seats available!

Have you always wanted to shoot film but are just unsure on how to begin? Well then, this is the class for you. In this course you will learn everything you need to know about getting started with film. You will learn how color and black and white film stocks differ from each other and from digital sensors, all about the incredible latitude of film and what that means for you as an artist, how to “rate” and meter your film in a variety of lighting situations for best results and a desired look, how to push your film for artistic flare and how to communicate with your lab, so that you get perfect scans every time. By the time this class is done, you’ll be shooting film with confidence. Just know, shooting film is incredibly fun and incredibly addictive… you’ve been warned!

**Please note that to allow for film processing times, this course has an SIX WEEK time commitment. There are only four teaching weeks – there will be two break weeks to allow students time to process their film.


6 weeks


daily shooting encouraged


4 hours of work per week


this course has prerequisites


All students will need a film camera (either 35mm or medium format), film, and an external light meter. Sandra is happy to make suggestions for both cameras and meters for all budgets. She will also provide a list of recommended film stocks. Students should be comfortable shooting in manual mode. 



With over fifteen years experience working in both film and digital photography, Sandra Coan has become Seattle’s premier maternity, newborn and family photographer. Her award winning work has been featured in a variety of publications including Click Magazine, Lemonade and Lenses, Seattle Bride, Plum, Bump and The Knot and on the popular blogs Let the Kids Dress Themselves, Light Inspired and Beyond the Wanderlust. Sandra’s work is also now a part of the Seattle Museum of History and Industry’s permanent collection. As co-founder and editor of Little Bellows, an online community celebrating the beauty of film photography, Sandra shares her passion for the medium of film with others. She also works as an educator, teaching fellow photographers through her workshops and, most recently, as an instructor at the 2015 Click Away conference in San Antonio, TX. Her portfolio is available here.

The following photographers also participate in discussions and provide assignment critiques as teaching assistants:

A number of course alumni may be invited to engage in discussion, share insight with students, and provide feedback and encouragement throughout the course.


Intermediate, Advanced

Course Syllabus

Welcome & Preassignment

What you need to get started with film

Week One

Reading: We will start by looking at color film. We will learn about the characteristics of the three most popular professional grade color films, how to rate and meter for best results and we will gain an understanding of the incredible exposure range color film has to offer.
Assignment: This week we will practice with color film by shooting different stocks in a variety of lighting situations, paying attention to metering and using what we know about the latitude of color film to take creative risks.

Week Two

Reading: We will learn about three popular black and white stocks and how black and white film differs from color film in latitude. We will discus how to rate and meter these stocks best results and look at effects of pushing black and white film.

Assignment: We will practice working with black and white film by shooting different stocks in a variety of lighting situations, paying attention to metering and using the inherent qualities in black and white film to play with shadows and highlights.

Break Week

Week Three

Reading: Join any film forum and you will read about people “pushing” their film. This week we will get into the specifics of what it means to push film, what it does (and doesn’t do) to your film and how to use it to add pop and drama to your images.

Assignment: This week we will practice pushing film is a variety of lighting situation to achieve a desired effect and we will learn how to communicate with our lab when so that our pushed film is properly processed.

Week Four

Reading: When you are a film photographer, the lab you choose makes a huge difference in your final outcome. This week we will learn how to get the most our of our film scans by leaning how to choose the best type of scan for our style and how to communicate with our lab of choice.

Assignment: Take what you’ve learned and put it into action! Choose two film stocks based on a desired look and feel and, begin a person to person dialog with your lab based on your style.

Full Participation students engage in an interactive online classroom experience that includes instructor-led group discussions and detailed, personalized guidance for the duration of the workshop. Full participation students receive instructor and TA critiques of the posted assignment each week and have lifetime access to a Workshop Alumni forum for continued peer discussion after the course concludes.

Study Along students will have access to all materials and will be able to view all content and conversation in the main workshop forum and receive access to their own private subforum for peer study groups and image shares. Study along students will not be able to ask the instructor questions or request instructor feedback on their assignments.


  • Sarah Hodges says:

    The class format, with a week in between each lesson for developing and scanning, is really great and puts it ahead of similar classes on the market. I went from knowing nothing about how to shoot film, to being comfortable with incident metering and understanding how to talk to the lab about how to process and scan the images according to my vision. I am now doing a roll a month as a personal project. The genre is really addictive and it’s nice to have some hand holding, as it’s way different from digital. No question is too basic for Sandra, she even had videos on how to package and mail your film to the lab. If you’re a brand new beginner who wants to shoot film with confidence, this is a good course. With film being so expensive to purchase, process and scan, it’s worth the money to be able to skip the iterations of troubleshooting from learning on one’s own and benefit from someone else’s experience.

  • I have nothing but good things to say about this class. Sandra is an excellent teacher, and gives you everything you need to jump all the way in with film. I would say I shoot with film more than 60% of the time since this class, and before it I knew absolutely nothing about shooting with film! I now feel completely confident and am totally in love with film! Sandra made learning to shoot film easy, and she helped me find a new passion! Thank you!

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