Over the last few years, Fujifilm has invited professional photographers from around the world to meet with the product planning and R&D teams to discuss current and future products. Names you may or may not have heard of such as Zack Arias, David Hobby, Bert Stephani, Kevin Mullins, Gianluca Colla, Tomasz Lazar, Damien Lovegrove, Knut Koivisto, Chris Weston and more have all given their feedback and input into the “kai-zen” development mentality of the Fujifilm X system.
However, this process has actually been going on for longer than that.
Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to meet with Yukio Uchida, a famous professional photographer from Japan who had been speaking about Fujifilm cameras at the CP+ show in Yokohama. Yukio was one of the world’s first “X-Photographers”; his feedback has been instrumental in the development of the Fujifilm X system. I was able to get 10 minutes of his time to ask him a few questions about his involvement with Fujifilm R&D, and also his own photographic style.
MH: Thank you for taking some time meet me and talk about you and your photography.
Is this your first time presenting at CP+?
YU: No, this is my fourth year. Every year it gets better than previous. Four years ago very few people used X series but over time the amount of users has increased, and also the amount of people that come to watch me speak has increased.
MH: Could you tell me a little bit about your photography style and philosophy?
YU: I want to take a picture that expresses what I feel. If the audience see my picture and they like it, this is OK. But if they see it and think “I want to feel like that”, this is more important to me. I want to inspire.
MH: How did you get into photography?
YU: Before becoming a professional photographer, I worked for the city government. At the time I spent a lot of time on the street taking photos. Photography should be about good moments and beautiful scenery.
MH: When did you start using Fujifilm cameras?
YU: I started with the original X100 back in early 2011 when it was first released.
MH: What do you love about Fujifilm X cameras?
YU: Firstly, and very importantly is colour reproduction and lens resolution. But also, the R&D team in Japan have included me a lot during the development phases of all of the products.
I was invited to the original meeting for X100 before the X series was born. I told them right away that they were dealing with someone with high standards who was not going to be easy to win over. I told them that if they couldn’t convince me to buy these cameras and lenses, they should not be sold in the marketplace. For this reason I feel strongly attached to the whole system.
I love the fashionable and stylish design of the product. Many people can appreciate the X series without needing to be professional photographers.
MH: You’re also stylish, charismatic and unique, and you stand out in a good way. You sum up that aspect of the cameras.
YU: Thank you. I feel that creative people prefer the look and feel of X series. Certainly in Japan, big DSLR cameras have appeal to working professionals, but to normal people that just want to create some art, this sort of camera should be the “mainstream”.
MH: So you would say that a DSLR might be someone’s tool, but a Fujifilm X camera is their camera for them to express and “be themselves” with.
YU: Completely agree. The photographic industry was moving towards “bigger must be better” but mobility was being sacrificed. DSLR users forgot photography.
Digital technology has been progressing, and cameras with cutting edge technology will continue to come out. But to me it’s not the essence of photography. I think photography should be the tool to express my feelings towards the “beauty of the world”.
A camera that gives me the joy of ownership and the joy of shooting is much more important than one with the highest number of megapixels or highest ISO performance.
MH: I see you have a Fujifilm camera with you now. How many shots do you take every day for your own use?
YU: Maybe one hundred per day, although I’d like to take more. I see beautiful things everywhere and want to capture them. Everything I do, everything I see, I think about how it could be framed. I look at light and shadow and it helps distract my mind from other negative things such as being nervous because I am being interviewed by an English guy!
When I shot with a DSLR, everything was more technical. I was only interested in what was visible in the frame and the depth of field. Now with X series I think about sounds, smell, temperature. Everything can be part of the photo.
MH: Finally, if you could only have one body and one lens, which would you choose?
YU: The X-Pro1 and XF56mm. I can be on equal footing with the X-Pro1. I don’t have to rely on the camera too much, nor deprive the joy of photography from me. I feel a kind of closeness with X-Pro1 and that’s why I love it the best.