I now use VSCO film simulation software to process nearly all my digital photos, and all of my iPhone photos are processed with the VSCOcam app.  ‘Film simulation’ might sound like some kind of retro exercise in achieving vintage looks, but that’s really not the point for me.  I’ll try to explain why...

(Click any photo for full-size) 

London, Agfa Scala -/+

I love shooting with film for particular looks, and I love shooting digital for convenience and speed... but they always felt like two entirely separate worlds.  My first DSLR was a Canon, and I was never comfortable with the colours it gave me - I didn’t really know what I didn’t like, but something just didn’t feel right.  The reds were wrong.  Then I’d change them and the greens felt wrong...  VSCO film was a revelation, because it instantly shifted those colours into something less ‘digital’... not retro or old fashioned, but just more organic and natural to my eyes.  Toying with the colour balance in the Canon files took forever, was never entirely cohesive, and was difficult to experiment with.

Sandy, Fuji Provia 100F Portrait

VSCO film changed all that and I find that I can apply different film stocks, knowing roughly what to expect in advance, and pull quite different feels from images than I ever would have had time for with my own tweaks.  I usually visualise the feel I want from an image before I process it, and often a VSCO simulation shifts the colours and feel to bring the image close to that intention very quickly.  Sometimes I apply Kodak Portra, tweak the exposure slightly and it’s exactly what I was after.  But there are times where I haven’t quite visualised the shot.  I know something’s lurking in there and I haven’t quite pinned it down.  VSCO Film allows me to experiment quickly, starting with my favourite go-to films, but then applying some of the more extreme Polaroid simulations or trying something in black and white, and it comes alive in ways I hadn’t anticipated.  My personal rule with colour vs black and white is:  use black and white unless it ‘needs’ to be colour...  but sometimes I’m wrong!  Sometimes the opposite to my intention works so much better.  VSCO lets me experiment with all this quickly, naturally, and in a way that feels familiar and real... 


Even now that I shoot with a Fuji X-Pro1, a digital camera which produces colours that I do like, I find VSCO invaluable.  In fact the two work together perfectly for me.


VSCO Film 04 has just been released.  It’s a collection of simulations based on classic slide films adding some really rich, vibrant looks which are quite different from the previous three packs.  I’ve spent the last couple of days experimenting and having another go at some of my recent photos...  so these are the first fruits from that exploration...  some photos I took on a recent trip to Berlin, one of my favourite recent portraits, and a bird of prey just for good measure.

Berlin, Fuji Astia 100F

Berlin, Fuji Astia 100F

Berlin, Kodak E100G --

Berlin, Fuji Velvia 100+

Sandy, Fuji Provia 100F Portrait