Fine Art Film Photographer: What Does it Mean? // California to Carolina – Black Sand Beaches

There are a lot of terms and classifications in the wedding industry. Categories and labels and all sorts of details that when it comes right down to it, don’t mean as much as the people or experiences behind them.

“So what exactly is a ‘fine art film photographer’?” someone asked me recently. “What does that mean?”

It’s a great question really. It can be a title that gets put on webpages and in site links, becomes a hashtag or conversation verbiage – used so much it’s meaning can seem diluted. I like to think it’s more than that though – it’s a way of capturing – of experiencing – that impacts both the photographer and the client. To me, being a fine art film photographer means that I seek to combine authentic moments and actual romance with a fine art approach. Images are created with beauty in mind, but not just beauty alone. Pretty things need to be more than pretty after all. They need to have substance and heart for them to mean anything to us.

On wedding days, or during portrait sessions I try to put my clients in captivating settings whenever possible, educating them on how soft natural light will make their skin glow and the sparkle in their eyes sing. I help to give direction for positioning and reassurance that yes, how they interact naturally, is truly exquisite on its own (I promise). This helps me to then give them permission to just BE together.

This is beautiful. You look beautiful. Experience it for what it is.

That’s where film comes in. Ever since switching to film after getting to shoot my first frame on Erich McVey’s Contax (thanks, Erich), I’ve been captivated with how the medium has grabbed me by the shoulders and insisted I slow things down. Beyond the aesthetics of it, which are simply divine in their own right, it lets me be more present and in turn allows me to encourage my clients to be more present. That’s what really matters in all of this. To not simply stand in a pretty place, or to look pretty, but rather to truly SEE the beauty around them as they are in it. Even on a rainy wedding day, wrapped up underneath an umbrella (or boldly going without one) – there is beauty in the experience that I want all my clients to value. So this is what the label means. This term, or category, stands for something a little bit more in my book – it allows my clients to trust the artistic vision for photography of their wedding day and portrait images to someone who lives to photograph, so they can sit back and soak it all in.

Topics in this post: Fine art film photographer, fine art film photography, perry vaile photography, north carolina fine art photography. Images above taken in Northern California on the black sand beach of the Lost Coast. Amazing team who created this inspiring vision include A&B Creative, Twigss Floral, Nikol Elaine Hair and Makeup, Mon Voir Calligraphy, Sarah Seven dress, H&M Suit, and last but not least the ever incredible Brittany and Jared Etheridge.

Michelle Lyerly

That shot of them staring out into the water is phenomenal. So beautiful Perry.

Susan Slater Gelder

These are so beautiful, you really capture the love they have for each other. The misty scenery is perfect. Love it.

Brittany + Jared // Northern California Elopement Session

You only come across people like Brittany and Jared rarely in life; those individuals who decide to change things, decide to pack up a life they know and go on a real, honest to God, adventure. When they first told me their story, it hit my in the heart. It’s a hard thing to do to change things up, to quit something, to go for something new and choosing to actually go for it, is possibly the hardest step. After deciding to break free from the life they were living in Virginia, “making just enough money to pay for food to eat and gas to get to work” they quit their jobs, packed up Brittany’s car and the next day, drove away into the distance headed West.

These two set out to explore and experience, heading as far West as they could with just under $1000 between them. After Jared asked Brittany to elope, they tied the knot along the way in Santa Fe at the magistrate and Brittany explains “it was like we were finally free to make whatever life we wanted. We didn’t have to go back. It felt crazy, but at the same time it made more sense to me than anything else. We were finally free.”

After a long and beautiful story, they finally made it to the Oregon Coast together settling in Bandon where they found jobs working at the Lake Bradley Christian Camp. Shortly after, I was put into contact with these two via Jared’s brother Josh when I was looking for couples in the Pacific Northwest, and after realizing they didn’t have much as far as actually wedding photographs went, we put plans into motion to provide an experience that might compliment their wedding day at the magistrate. Along with an absolutely amazing team of creatives (A & B Creative styling, Twigss Floral and Nikol Elaine with hair and make-up) we all traveled to Northern California near the heart of the redwoods to capture and create that sense of adventure that these two seemed to live and breathe.

To help give this inspiring couple an even further emotional connection to their California elopement session, they wrote personal letters (which were then beautifully hand-written by Mon Voir) to each other and on the edge of a cliff, and with the Pacific Ocean below, in the whirling wind they exchanged vows and promises to each other that they’ll keep for the next 80 years. There’s something so real and powerful about that, and being able to stand with them and capture it was surely one of the highlights of my experiences as a photographer thus far.

Beyond their cliffside vows, we also headed deep into the ancient redwood forest nearby, and the setting along with this sweet couple took my breath away. The truly beautiful wedding gown by Sarah Seven and vintage motorcycle owned by Stefan and Becky Fisher added a sense of whimsey to the entire experience – I was half tempted to hop on and ride off with them!

More to come from our time with Brittany and Jared on the foggy black sand beaches of the Lost Coast!


An undeniably huge thank you to the phenomenal team that came together to make this California elopement session possible:

Styling/Design: Rebekah at A&B Creative

Floral: Addison at Twigss Floral Design

Hair & Makeup: Nikol Elaine

Dress: Sarah Seven 

Calligraphy: Jenna at Mon Voir

Motorcycle: Stefan and Becky Fisher

Couple: Brittany & Jared Etheridge

Photography: Perry Vaile Photography


Redwood elopement, redwood portraits, California elopement session, Perry Vaile Photography, A&B Creative design and styling, Twigss Floral Design, Nikol Elaine makeup, Nikol Elaine hair, Sarah Seven dress, Mon Voir calligraphy, 
Shawn Adams


Morgan Merchant Wagoner

Breathtaking ! <3

Stephan Phelps

Wow, I knew my daughter was pretty but Wow! They both look amazing!! Nice work Perry, very Nice!

Susan Slater Gelder

Perry, what gorgeous photos. These are my grandchildren and I’m so happy for them. The most beautiful wedding photos I’ve seen. Thank you.

Jennifer Miller

These are incredible!!! Job well done!! Beautiful couple!

Christy Tyler

HOLY MOLY, WOMAN! These are absolutely stunning!

San Diego Film Photographer // Rachael + Brady

San Diego is known for its abundance of sunshine. I imagine any San Diego film photographer enjoys a plethora of golden sunsets, dancing palm trees, warm breezes. However, when I arrived in the beautiful city there was something different in the air this time. The local forecasters were showing visuals of swirling clouds, and warning about flash floods while they wore ponchos and rainboots. When this type of thing happens for photographers and couples, you really only get 2 choices – to reschedule, or to embrace it. I’ve always fallen firmly in the “embrace it” category and thankfully Rachael (who owns the ever-inspiring wedding design company, Lace and Likes) and her sweet Brady felt the exact same way.

These are my type of people.

There’s something truly magical about standing in a storm, and the following photographs give you just a little taste of the beauty that unfolded on those rain-soaked  cliffs.


To see more from Perry Vaile Photography, visit the site here.

Topics in this post: San Diego Film Photographer, San Diego Portraits, Sunset Cliffs Portrait Session, Fine Art Photographer San Diego, Perry Vaile, Lace and Likes, Rainy Portrait Sessions, California Film Photographer, San Diego Fine Art Photography, Contax 645, Portra 400, Scanned by Photovision Prints

Hanke Arkenbout

oh my goodness Perry these are sooooo good! thanks for sharing xxx

Anne van Midden

Wow!! Found this via Hanke and now I can’t get over how beautiful these photos are! Amazing work and gorgeous couple!

Kelley Jo Spurlock

So glad that you’re awesome and you did not reschedule because this is absolutely stunning!! You’re work is BEAUTIFUL!

Alejandra + Jose // Anniversary // Phoenix Arizona Photography

I’ve never been to Arizona before, though it’s been on my mind for quite awhile. The desert, the sunsets, the cacti – I was simply aching for a taste of the Southwest and this positively gorgeous desert portrait session was the perfect introduction. After landing in Phoenix and filling our bellies with some of the tastiest Mexican food I’ve ever had my husband and I settled into sweet Phoenix and woke at sunrise the next morning to meet with beautiful Ale Vidal of Imaginale and her hubby Jose for this anniversary session. Seeing these two wrapped up together in such an impressive setting was so much fun, they were absolutely electric together. It was my total honor to photograph them both and be given a little peek into how beautiful they are both inside and out.



Phoenix Arizona Photography on Kodak Film by: Perry Vaile Photography

Styling: Alex Evjen of AVE Styles –

H&MU: Jessica Fierro –
Couple: Alejandra + Jose Vidal of Imaginale Design –
Contax 645 with Kodak Portra 400 Film / Phoenix Arizona Photography on Film Scanned by PhotoVision
A.J. Dunlap

GORGEOUS Perry!!!!! I love her outfits, and now I need to plan a trip back to Phoenix! I don’t remember it looking like that when I was 15 :)

Karie Denny

Absolutely love my beautiful friends. you captured them perfectly.

Tara Fitch Chatterton

Sizzle. Holy moly these are awesome

Christy Tyler

Oh my word. These are stunning!!! You’re making me want to buy some Porta again! YOWSA.