Film emulation filters are presets (digital instructions) used together with photography post processing programs like Adobe Lightroom that photographers use to edit their digital images. When these presets are applied to digital images they produce results that emulate stylised film stock of yesteryear.
I have recently gone down the path of film emulation software, namely VSCO film filters. These digital filters do not make a bad photograph into a good one but they may add to a good image when used discerningly. Many of the filters are a fine fit straight out of the box. However, I find I get the best results when I make my own modifications to the default preset on a shot to shot basis.
Many clients like a rustic or vintage feel to their weddings and by adding a filter that matches their theme, you can produce something really special.
More and more film emulation images are appearing on industry leading wedding photography directories and blogs, this drives demand, so much so, that now I'm jumping on the bandwagon. The ubiquitous use of these popular filters can make many photographer's work look very similar but if clients want this look who am I to argue. I still deliver my own original style of toning but when required, will produce an additional bonus folder of the best shots done in a particular way that suits my style and the clients taste.
For all the brides and grooms out there wondering about the film filter craze, it is worth bearing in mind that any photographer with a computer can apply them. Don't pick your wedding photographer solely based on the filter style they employ - choose them based on their overall photography, their reputation and how well they tell stories and capture moments. Editing in my opinion, is less important than the photograph and is just the finishing aesthetic touch.
Finally, a certain look or trend might go out of style in a few years. So I would avoid having all your images with a heavily stylised look, especially if you didn't purchase the raw files (equivalent to digital negatives) as you'll be stuck with them. If you're buying a film filter package from your photographer, include it in addition to your wedding images with a more neutral look. This will ensure you won't be wed :) to a certain look, should it go out of vogue.