Don't most professional photographers use digital cameras? Yest, but some of the best photographers in the world still use film cameras.
I know you're asking why. There are a lot of reasons, that can make your portraits look better.
1. Film cameras can use film and techniques designed to make you look great. Kodak, Fuji and others make "portrait" films, designed for portraits and weddings. They are designed for natural, softer skin tones, beautiful color and a more flattering image with less contrast. Black and white film can be processed in special chemicals to give the proper contrast and smoother skin tones.
Digital cameras tend to show every flaw. Do you want your pictures to EXAGGERATE every flaw, wrinkle and skin pore on your face. Digital cameras are optimized to take sharp pictures. Why?
People who buy digital cameras often go to online reviews. Would you buy a camera that was reviewed as having a softer lens or if the sensor did not show ALL the texture possible in your tree picture? And almost all digital cameras are designed for multiple purposes. This means compromise. They have to work for scenic photography, night pictures, architecture, people photos and more.
To create the proper retouching in Photoshop can take hours. So most digital photographs take short cuts, when retouching, or do a sloppy job. They make people look like cartoons. Film needs less retouching and results in more natural skin texture.
2. Film has a more "organic" and natural look. I remember when my digital camera had a problem and would not work. The camera repair company said it would take a few days to be fixed, so I asked a client if I could use my film camera for the project. No problem.
When the film was developed and returned to me, I was shocked. The depth of color, natural highlights (bright areas) and open shadows was great. The skin looked outstanding. Beautiful color, sharp but natural, a greater variety of skin tones. Skin is not just one bland color. After using digital for a while, I had forgotten how good film could be. And my client could still get digital files, scanned from the film negatives.
It was also more convenient for the client. She looked at actually proofs, at my office. In a few minutes she had decided on her order. She did not spend an hour or more, seeing the pictures on a computer monitor. that most of my clients spent when I used a digital camera. The client asked why I did not use film all the time!
Why is digital so "digital" looking? The image is composed of one layer of pixels. The pixels are actually black and white. Filters are added to make color possible. Mathematical calculations fill in the information so color is possible. Errors occur in the process.
On color film, there are actual layers of film, sensitive to different colors. No guessing, by an impersonal computer in your camera. On film, red is red, blue is blue. Because of the layers and more random distribution of the film layer emulsion, film tends to naturally "blend" tones and soften skin a little. On digital cameras the dark area are often too dark and the light areas "burn out". Film handles the range of tones better.
3. Years of technology favors film. Film has been made for over 100 years. Many years of research has allowed a tremendous improvement in the quality possible.
Digital cameras have been considered acceptable by professional photographers for about a dozen years. I hear the quote, "it's good enough" from so many photographers. Really? That's a compromise. Why compromise? Most photographers save thousands of dollars on film, processing and printing at the labs every year.
4. Art favors film. There are so many beautiful techniques developed for film photographers. Photographers have been creating images since about 1826. Film cameras come in many styles, type and sizes. Film comes in so many types and some photographers even coat their own film. Lenses were often designed for different purposes. Some very sharp, some softer for portraits.
Artistic photography is probably the most important factor. There is a distinct, quality film has that digital does not have. For example, when you attend a symphony don't you expect to see many musicians playing the music. Along with a conductor. It's real, authentic, live.
Isn't it possible for a few guys playing digital instruments or a synthesizer to create the music? Would the experience be the same? Digital photographers often try to emulate film. Usually it's a poor imitation of film. If you want pictures to look like they are shot on film, it's usually best to use film.
Galleries and museums still favor photographers working with film. I was visiting a gallery and saw some beautiful photos of trees. Millions of people take pictures of trees, but these had a special quality. The gallery representative explained the hours of work, techniques and materials used by the photographer. Could the photographs have been taken by digital cameras? I'm not sure, but they certainly would not look the same and the artist would not have approached the subject with as much study and care.
Film is what the best photographers have been using for over 100 years.
So for your portraits, please work with a photographer who is willing to spend time creating a special portrait for you. He usually has more experience and skill than your average digital photographer. As a sophisticated portrait client, you want something artistic, memorable and with a sense of history.