If you are fine art wedding photographer, you will almost certainly have heard about, or read about, or followed in some capacity, Jose Villa. If you are lucky\fortunate enough, you may have even been mentored by him in one of his tuition sessions. If you’re anything like me, you will at least have one of his books.
Jose Villa and Film
He is, perhaps, the one who started a bit of a trend. Back in the mid 00’s, digital was getting seriously mainstream as a form of photographic capture. Film sales were dropping like a lead balloon as every man and his dog “went digital” and film cameras were being sold off at a fraction of their real worth because everyone was “going digital”, replacing film cameras for digital ones.
The years between about 2007 to around 2012 were dark years, for those of us who stuck with analogue photography. Companies like Kodak and Fujifilm were dropping film emulsions hand over fist. Loads of the slide films like Fuji Astia went. Even the might Ektachrome went in 2012 (though it came back in 2018 thank goodness!!). But, thanks to people like Jose Villa, there was still a demand for film, even though it was enormously reduced from ten years before.
Jose Villa, at a time when everyone had gone digital, was shooting Fujifilm Pro 400H as his staple (if you buy film from Analogue Wonderland I get a small reward! Just saying!). He is well known for generally always shooting it at ISO200 with a Contax 645 with the lens wide open. He created somewhat of a signature look with that combination of film, EI rating, and lens setting. Softly focused, high key pastel shots. Today, there are dozens of photographers doing the same.
People talk about inspiring people, and innovators, casually these days, but to me, he is a true example of both. Refusing to give in to what was considered the expectation and sticking with a combination that he knew worked well. He created a signature brand at a time when everything else was looking ‘samey’.
Today I gather he commands prices of near to the $10K mark for a wedding. He has become a celebrity in his own right; at least in the world of photography. He is a true example of someone who has not only helped keep the wedding photography trade alive and well, as well as creating a new and modern twist to the traditional and stuffy ways of photography in times past, but he has helped keep the film industry alive too. Not on his own of course but people like him help drive demand. Today there are thousands of people all over the world trying to do the same as him. It can get frustrating for people like me who have always shot film to sometimes be called “a hipster” or some such, because, today, shooting film has become somewhat of a “you’re only doing it to be hip” thing. I’ve always stuck with film because I like it, period. I went digital for two years and it wasn’t for me. Everyone keeps telling me that I’ll only ever be able to succeed professionally if I do the same. I call baloney on that. The weddings I have done, and the shots I have taken have reduced crowds of people to tears, and made me a Kodak Alaris contest winner. I’ve never done that with any photograph I’ve ever taken with a digital camera.
Jose Villa is an icon. If you’ve never read his book : “Fine Art Wedding Photography“, I suggest you do so. It’s a great insight into his work, his style, and is a motivational read. And if you ever get the chance to meet him or be tutored by him, take it with both hands!!
As far as I know, he doesn’t have a YouTube channel, but he is featured heavily on the platform. Just search for his name there and watch what you find. And his website is www.josevilla.com