I was always one of those people who would count down the minutes until it turned 5:30pm, but now I watch the clock counting down the minutes until my next photography assignment.
I enjoy the uncertainty of the job, as it could be anywhere in the world, photographing any subject and may have some unusual requirements thrown in for good measure. What is certain however, is that I will get to meet and create art with some interesting characters.
I like to think my vision is unique. I want to create and record a view of the world which is different from what some other people may see, putting my slant on the subject. Recently, whilst sat at an airport, I passed the time by looking at the myriad of different people trying to get from A to B; darting round travellators heading for their gates or standing in queues waiting for their caffeine fix at the bustling Starbucks. I noted that a large proportion of these people didn’t seem to care about the way they presented themselves, carried themselves and behaved. And hey, why should they? They are at the airport. It’s an everyday occurrence. I couldn’t help but think about the black and white photographs of the bygone times where people would have made much more of an effort with their appearance. If I were to take a street photograph now, would it reflect poorly against the older images? Because, despite the leaps forward with photographic equipment and technique, the folk of yesteryear seemed to take more pride in self (albeit unwittingly) compared to today’s unknowing source material. And this observation isn’t anything to do with wealth or social standing. In the past it was possible to be both poor and stylish and lack of money didn’t necessarily mean a lack of effort or imagination (Vivienne Maier’s work is a prime example of this). I want to create a lifestyle through my photography which enables you to a see a world how I want to see it. I want to see the jazz age and the style from the roaring 20s right up to the 70s with a slightly modern edge.
I like to think that my work and my imagination create worlds which take people away from the everyday and give them a glimpse of events, situations and lifestyles to which they can aspire. I may not always succeed but my efforts always move towards this goal.
When I started as a photographer I used to haunt my local corner shop buying all the fashion magazines I could get my hands on for inspiration. Growing up in a small town in North Wales meant that there was not always that many! I then made the best use of my friends and cajoled them to pose as models for my photographic experiments. I did this until they grew pretty fed up with being my models. I knew that with a tonne of practice I would get better and I knew even then that I wanted to be a highly respected fashion photographer, and meet some photographic icons that I had read about in the magazines and on the internet. If this required some world travel and spending time in plush luxury locations then I would, of course, be willing to make that sacrifice!!
Fujifilm enables me to achieve everything I want through photography. Through using the different models of the X Series cameras, from the FUJIFILM X-T10 to my most recent purchase, the FUJIFILM X-Pro2, it has made me think vastly different to the way I shoot and the way I approach photography. It has helped me develop my style much more than my old Canon kit. One of the key features for me is that the EVF enables you to create the final image before pressing the shutter.
The different film modes also replicate some great styles with which you can adapt to your own style. Through the crystal-clear quality and high-speed shutter action and focusing I honestly could not imagine myself picking up any other kit.
The size and design of these cameras benefit me and my style. They are small, sleek and take the look of vintage film cameras. I try to keep my models as natural as possible so that the poses aren’t over dramatic and staged. Due to the high ISO factors, you can work under low light and not have to overpower the shot with much lighting. This keeps the model in a relaxed state and enables you to capture the moment without anyone realising on set. When people see my camera, they think I am shooting film and can’t believe I am shooting on one of the sharpest cameras created.
My background is in property and investment. After a negative experience with art and its teachings I felt that taking a degree in photography would be a waste of time because I would be dissuaded from doing it MY way. But when I made the decision to take up photography, I really went for it; making mistakes and learning loads along the way. It soon became apparent that there is no real right or wrong way to photography, there is just YOUR way. A great example of this is Andy Warhol and his approach to lighting, using a side lamp to cast one half the subject in darkness and under exposed. This doesn’t make it a bad image, it makes it an Andy Warhol image and instantly recognisable. It was about the character in front of his lens and he captured the abundance of attitude that his subject gave out. If you look at his photographs they captured the moment when the image was taken. The emotion, the feeling and character are there forever.
When I am booked as a photographer, I am not booked because I take the same image everyone else will take. I am booked because the client loves my style and wants my style involved in their brand. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fashion label or coffee shop or an individual. A great photographer knows exactly how to make a nice crisp, clean image, and there are many amazing photographers who can do this. It is possible to be technically very proficient and, with the internet, it’s getting easier to learn to achieve this. However, you can’t be taught to find your own style; be it your editing style, your framing or even the angle you take your photograph from that makes it YOURS. So, if you are reading this post, just think for a moment before reading onto the next paragraph what is it that makes YOU stand out, or even what it is that makes YOU love your photograph?
To help develop my style, I used to look for tips from other photographers and successful people within the creative industries. I regarded these people as the elite and the untouchable. I looked up to them and wouldn’t have dreamt of contacting them. Fast-forward a few years and some of these people are now my friends. I am amazed and proud that I have reached a point where I can exchange ideas and even have these other professionals use things that I have suggested in their works. I am a massive believer of the fact that you can get whatever you want from life and you should just trust and believe in yourself and go for your goals. If you’re not happy in your current job, then go and find an alternative career that makes you content. You will never take that image at the top of Everest or climb K2 if you don’t take that first step and then train like a maniac and scrimp and save to raise the money to do it. All that is stopping you is YOU! We are a long-time dead and your last mortal emotion should not be of regret for chances spurned.
I had the pleasure of recently using the GFX 50S. I didn’t think you would be able to get much better than the X-Pro2 when that appeared on the market, and now the GFX has surfaced it has certainly set the standard even higher. The scope of what you can achieve with this camera is phenomenal. I can’t wait for my story to continue with the Fujifilm range.
More from Alexander Bather
More about FUJIFILM X-Pro2
The FUJIFILM X-Pro2 boasts a Hybrid Viewfinder capable of instantly switching between optical and electronic finders, plus an updated image sensor and processor, which dramatically improve image quality. By combining these features with the ultra-high image quality of FUJINON X-Mount lenses and the color reproduction technology accumulated through more than 80 years as a photographic film manufacturer, the FUJIFILM X-Pro2 delivers the best ever results from an X-series camera.