Category: Interviews

From Fujifilm staff members to users of Fujifilm cameras, the Interviews sections covers a wide range of subjects.

Interview with Tom Lazar – Street Photographer

Photographer Tomasz Lazar finds that the Fujifilm X100S is the best choice for his brand of street photography

Tomasz Lazar is a photographer from Poland and a graduate of the West Pomeranian University of Technology. His black & white documentary images of street culture have won numerous accolades, including placing in the Sony World Photography Awards and the International Photography Awards. “I also took second place in ‘People in the News’ category of the 2012 World Press Photo contest and received Picture of the Year at BZ WBK Press Foto 2012,” he tells X Magazine.

X100S Lens: fixed 23mm Exposure: 1/15 sec  ISO: 400
X100S Lens: fixed 23mm Exposure: 1/15 sec
ISO: 400

 While Tomasz was still at university he planned a trip to Spain with his girlfriend, but didn’t own a camera. “I was given [a camera] by my parents, a Nikon D50 – and that’s how it all started,” he said. “After coming back from Spain I wanted to learn more about photography. I read books, looked at photo albums, talked to people about it – and I still remember the first photography book I bought, by Jeanloup Sieff. I really felt that photography was what I loved and what I would like to do in the future. I’ve always liked to talk to people and listen to their stories, but photography also enabled me to capture their stories.”

Street life

After a year living in Warsaw, Tomasz is now based in Szczecin, and tries to constantly be on the move. “I travel around Poland and Europe, and try to visit New York at least once a year,” he explains. As a long-time member of the un-posed photography group, which focuses on street photography, Tomasz devotes most of his time to taking pictures. To Tomasz, the street is an almost magnetic place, which he describes as being like a ‘living organism’. “Everything is constantly changing,” he says. “Street photography gives you a kind of freedom but also allows you to converse with people and observe situations.” He also points out that despite the name, you don’t have to be on a street to take street photography. “Street is a combination of factors that are relevant to each other – moments that together, give you this kind of mood.”

Whether on the street or not, Tomasz is always searching for images that, in his words, ‘enchant reality’. “The photographer Ernst Haas said of photographs, ‘the less information, the more allusion; the less prose, the more poetry’, which works to stimulate the imagination,” Tomasz explains. “This is what I’m really looking for. Some people say that I’ve got my own black & white style in photography, but I think that I can try different approaches to develop my consciousness. With my pictures I like to tell stories about places and people or try to show the mood.

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Question time

Tomasz has come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of photo projects: “One kind answers questions, but the other aims to force the viewer to think, and actually asks questions. My Theatre of Life is such a project – its point is to raise questions and make the viewers consider what to do next, what impact is had on our lives by technological development and the media.” Theatre of Life is a project that Tomasz has been working on since 2008, an exploration of surrealism. “It’s an essay on my experiences and thoughts about what surrounds me,” he says. “As a result of fast-changing technological developments, many people seem to feel disconnected from the world. Some seek refuge and create alternative realities: some dress in costumes, play role-playing games or pretend to be heroes from movies or Japanese anime. We all find our ways to cope, but these ‘off’ moments are what interest me.”

Tomasz frequently works in black & white, enjoying the dark and mysterious perception that people have of monochromatic pictures. “I also like to use natural light mixed with a flashlight,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot of my black & white technique from the classical darkroom – such as how to develop and work on the images. I like to work on all the details to make the picture better. To make really good black & white, everything is important: composition, light, people’s faces – and that’s why I like monochrome images.”

Tomasz often works with the Fujifilm X100S and has high praise for the camera’s capability at delivering black & white images. But it’s not just the inner workings of the cameras that Tomasz enjoys: he loves their style and size as well. “I like the way they are built. When I’m going on assignments for The New York Times I take the X100S: it is small, but the quality of the images, even set to high ISO, is very good. That’s why I like to work with it on the streets and during my journalism work.”

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Trying the X-E2

During a series of workshops run by Fujifilm Poland Tomasz was able to spend some time with the new X-E2. “Last year I was working on Beer Project, a collection of images about beer culture in Prague for Fujifilm using the X-E1, and for me it was a very good camera – but after holding the X-E2 I can tell it is even better. For me, lenses and cameras are like kitchen knives, pots and pans for cooking: different projects mean I’ll choose different cameras and lenses.”

Along with a decent camera in his pocket, Tomasz recommends any keen street photographers find themselves a good pair of walking shoes – “because sometimes you can spend more than eight hours shooting” – and also advises that in order to be as creative as possible photographers shouldn’t close their minds to other genres. “I’ve tried many types of photography – I share the view of Alec Soth from the Magnum agency that you should try everything, because you never know when you might need this kind of skill,” he says. “Besides, this opens up your mind and makes it easier to become a ‘humanist’”.

VISIT TOMASZ’S WEBSITE HERE

X Magazine Issue 3This interview was first published in issue 3 of the Fujifilm X Magazine. Click here to read it for FREE.

Jim Marks Interview – Thoughts on the Fujifilm X-T1

Japanese website www.itmedia.co.jp were at the CP+ show in Yokohama in February 2014 and were able to interview British Photographer Jim Marks who was presenting his thoughts about X series products on the Fujifilm stand.

Here is a link to the original post and you can find the translated version below:

A famous photographer from overseas tells us about his thoughts on the X-T1.

All who are interested in photography know of the FUJIFILM and FUJIFILM X series as they have enjoyed high praise from many photo-enthusiasts. But how do photographers recognise FUJIFILM X-series in other countries where FUJIFILM may not be as familiar as it is in Japan?  We interviewed Mr. Jim Marks who has successfully built his career as a commercial photographer and director of over 20 years; we will talk about his impressions on the latest model, the “X-T1”.

About Jim Marks

Jim Marks, commercial photographer and director, started his career assisting Bob Carlos Clarke and Patrick Lichfield.  He is one of the first photographers to embrace digital. His clients include world famous companies like BBC, Channel 4 and National Geographic.

What is your first impression of the FUJIFILM X-T1?  Also you have used the existing X-series models like the X100 and X20. What is new in X-T1 system and what remains unchanged?

In a word, it is “great”.  Firstly we have to start with the viewfinder, it is so easy to forget that is an EVF. It has mechanical dials for the ISO setting, with which you can confirm your settings at a glance.  I often leave the aperture and the shutter speed automatic and just control the exposure compensation. In this case, the layout of these dials is really very practical.

Also the tilting LCD allows me snap shots from waist height without being noticed by the subject. With the new battery grip, the “VG-TX1”, you can enjoy the same excellent operational feeling in the vertical position as you can in the portrait position. Also I like how easy it is to use manual focus with this grip, too.

In comparison to the other X-series models, I feel that FUJIFILM has proactively applied many improvements based on the user’s voice. I do not mean that FUJI has not done this for the X100 or X20 but (improved with generations of X series) the X-T1 has various shooting functions and options which were not available in the previous X models. What the X-T1 has inherited however, is FUJI’s unique colours.  It is a pleasure to see and use the same colours I have used with film before like Velvia and ASTIA.

© itmedia.co.jp
© itmedia.co.jp

I heard that you now work frequently with the X series models. What kinds of camera have you used in the past?

I have used medium format cameras like Hasselblad, Leica, Nikon and Canon.  Leica has to be one of my favourite cameras but equally, it frustrates me with its response sometimes. I love all types of camera. But the compact with sufficient quality for professional use has to be the “FUJIFILM X” series.

I had looked for a camera system with satisfactory specifications, like speed, quality, optical and size and I found myself reaching for the FUJIFILM X.  FUJIFILM is very clever.

I’m in love with the X-T1! It is the ergonomic design. It has this retro feel while many cameras out there just have a plain electronic camera design.

The X-T1 is a camera full with the latest technology and classic design.

How important is the design for me?  About 75%, maybe even higher (Laugh). But design for designs sake does not attract me. It is design based on necessity for shooting that is very important to me.

What is your opinion on the X mount lenses?

It may not be widely known, but FUJINON lenses are used extensively in movies and broadcasting and are well trusted by professionals. (Notes: Mr. Marks works not only in still photography but also in the filming and directing industries). X-mount lenses have a relatively short history but they have always offered superb quality that never disappoints professional users.

In the beginning, with FUJIFILMs first interchangeable camera, the X-Pro1, FUJIFILM offered three fixed focal lenses rather than zoom lenses.  It was a great decision.  All of those lenses are bright, compact and superior in resolution. I also had a chance to try the new XF56mm, and was really impressed with its fantastic expression!

Could you give a message to those who are interested in the X series but that are not owners yet?

Small, high quality and flexible. The FUJIFILM X series fit this category perfectly.  I am sure the current system you have is excellent, but I would really recommend shifting your eyes on to the X series after reading this article.

And I have a message to FUJIFILM, too. I hope that FUJI will introduce a bright 90mm lens (about equiv. to 135mm format)!  I want it for portrait shooting!

Interview with Kevin Mullins: first impressions of the XF10-24 and XF56 lenses and the X-T1 camera

We invited professional wedding photographer Kevin Mullins to come to Yokohama in Japan to speak on the Fujifilm stand at CP+ about how he started using Fujifilm products and how they help him create his distinctive documentary style approach to wedding photography.

We planned the whole thing out, even to the details of where he is to stand on the stage, however there was one slight issue that we were unable to plan for – the snow.

Heavy snowfall throughout Friday has meant that the CP+ show was cancelled today, but don’t think that means Kevin was given a day off. Instead we went out for a little walk around Yokohama and he was able to try out the new XF10-24mm and XF56mm lenses and also the new Fujifilm X-T1 compact system camera.

Here’s a quick selection of unedited jpeg shots Kevin has taken, plus a few of his initial thoughts on how each lens performed.

The FUJINON XF56mmF1.2 R lens

X-E2 with XF56mm - 1/200 sec;   f/1.2;   ISO 1000
X-E2 with XF56mm – 1/200 sec; f/1.2; ISO 1000
X-E2 with XF56mm - 1/200 sec;   f/1.2;   ISO 800
X-E2 with XF56mm – 1/200 sec; f/1.2; ISO 800
X-T1 with XF56mm - 1/4000 sec;   f/1.8;   ISO 200
X-T1 with XF56mm – 1/4000 sec; f/1.8; ISO 200

“I’m really impressed with the handling of the lens, especially the speed of focus. The depth of field at f/1.2 is remarkable for an APS-C sized sensor CSC. I’m really looking forward to using it at a wedding where I’m sure it will become a permanent fixture in my camera bag”

The FUJINON XF10-24mmF4 R OIS lens

X-T1 with XF10-24 - 1/1105 sec;   f/5.6;   ISO 200
X-T1 with XF10-24 – 1/1105 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200
X-T1 with XF10-24 - 1/320 sec;   f/5.6;   ISO 200
X-T1 with XF10-24 – 1/320 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200

“Not being a regular user of a zoom lens, I was really keen to get my hands on the 10-24 and the ability to shoot as a the wide end of the zoom really introduces a new dynamic into the way we can use the X series cameras. The lens handles really well at both ends of the zoom, is very fast and the weight of it doesn’t unbalance the camera”

The X-T1 Compact System Camera

When asked about the X-T1 camera specifically, this is what Kevin had to say about it:

“I’ve been waiting to get my hands on the X-T1 for a while and I’m certainly not disappointed. Although I’ve only used it for a few hours, the viewfinder is simply amazing and the manual controls are well positioned – the camera feels really good in my hands. Well thought out features like the tilting screen, the side loading card and the vertical battery grip really make this a camera that’s going to enhance my everyday shooting”

About Kevin

Kevin Mullins is an award winning UK Wedding Photographer specialising in the documentary style of wedding photography. To see more of his work you can follow him on Facebook or follow his blog.

Interview with Luca Bracali

Camera: X-Pro1 Lens: XF14mm F2.8R Exposure: 1/30sec  at F4, ISO 1600
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF14mm F2.8R
Exposure: 1/30sec at F4, ISO 1600

Renowned photographer Luca Bracali likes to travel light – and he finds X-series cameras perfectly suited to his nomadic lifestyle

Based in the tiny city of Pistoia in Tuscany, Luca Bracali is a man with a mission and international reach. Now aged 48, he’s spent the last 25 years of his life shooting, filming and documenting our planet in all its glory, and often works up to 15 hours a day. His obsession with travel is so consuming that it extends to his family: when his youngest daughter was ten years old she’d already visited 30 countries, accompanying her father as he captured images of every sort of creature from lions on the savannah to bears in the American wilderness.

Taking his first black & white photo at just six years old, Luca has always been creative, bursting with ideas since he was a child – but a gift of a 50mm F1.2 lens from a photography professor got him hooked. After high school, Luca started work as a photojournalist following car and motorcycle events. “My first assignment was a motocross race,” he laughs, “and I still remember the words of my director who told me: ‘Luca – not so bad, but to get a good picture out of your roll we need to stitch together two frames: one for the front wheels, the other one for the back wheels…’”

Camera: X-Pro1 LENS: XF14mm F2.8 R Exposure: 30secs  at F4, ISO 640
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF14mm F2.8 R
Exposure: 30secs at F4, ISO 640

Renaissance man

While learning the ropes Luca drew inspiration from the great Renaissance painters, studying their mastery of light and form and combining this with the attention to detail and observation that the young photographer learned from his father. “Caravaggio was the great master of light,” he says. “The challenge for me now is discovering something new or looking at something in a different way – perhaps from an eye-catching perspective, or using the evocative and hidden brushstrokes of light.”

Luca earned his stripes as a motorsport photographer, then moved onto fashion and beauty before discovering that travel reportage was his real passion. Since then he’s published three books (with a fourth on the way soon), won four international photo prizes and had nearly 20 exhibitions of his work in museums and galleries. “A few years ago I was employed by Rai 1 (a major Italian TV network) as a director – and the environment, nature and the Arctic region are my main topics,” he says.

Nowadays Luca’s motivation is to travel across the planet to “discover its infinite beauty and using the power of photography to wake up people’s consciences.” The photographer is passionate about conservation, and his wide-ranging portfolio is testament to his self-appointed mission.

Camera: X-Pro1 LENS: XF14mm F2.8 R Exposure: 1/500sec  at F10, ISO 200
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF14mm F2.8 R
Exposure: 1/500sec at F10, ISO 200

Travelling light

Luca travels with such frequency that he’s away from home at least once a month, and the Fujifilm X-Pro1 has found a place in his camera bag. In fact, it was his nomadic lifestyle which first attracted the photographer to the Fujifilm X-Pro series of cameras. “With the new airline regulations you cannot travel carrying so many kilos,” he said, “but I still needed quality.” Luca is self-described as picky, and prior to switching he was on the lookout for a mirrorless camera that fulfilled the following criteria. “It had to be lightweight, with a sensor and an algorithm able to produce hi-res and quality images comparable to the best reflex camera and, in some cases, maybe even better,” he said, so the X-Pro1’s class-beating performance was an ideal choice. Luca was also impressed by the camera’s workings, and found an emotive link to the cameras and pictures of his earlier years. “The camera’s X-Trans sensor with unconventional array gives me the pathos of film photography with more depth of colour shades and reduces the moiré effect,” he continued. “Also, the Velvia style picture that’s selectable by the Q-button interface is one of my favourite custom colour settings – it reminds me of the vivid and bright tones of the film I preferred and used until 2003.”

Though the X-Pro1 is Luca’s camera of choice, he’s also had an advance look at the new X-E2. “I found it a really surprising camera,” he says. “There are a lot of very interesting features: the first one that comes to my mind is the panoramic setting. You can take a superb 180° picture, which saves a lot of time in post-production. It also enables the image stabiliser function during video shooting, and the buffer is large and fast enough to let you take burst pictures easily.”

Camera: X-Pro1 Lens: XF18-55mm Exposure: 1/125sec  at F11, ISO 200
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF18-55mm
Exposure: 1/125sec at F11, ISO 200

Telling a story

During Luca’s many adventures he’s famously travelled to every continent and used nearly every form of transport, so asking him to select a single shoot that stands out from the rest is – as he puts it – “like asking a mother of ten children: ‘Which is the best?’” Luca is fond of all his images, but singles out a shot taken in the northern-most territory of Canada as perhaps one of the most memorable. “I waited for almost six hours at -11°C standing with my nose and fingers frostbitten until that little snowy cub woke up,” he said. “The interaction between mother bear and pup lasted only five seconds but that shot, of one of the most endangered animals on earth and the icon of a slowly vanishing world, was really worth all the sacrifice.”

Despite Luca’s abilities at seemingly all genres of photography, there’s a few he’s not so keen on.

“Wedding and still-life photography are not my favourite genres,” he says. “I like catching people in the most natural way and showing their real expressions, motion and lifestyle – and in my experience, weddings are the opposite. Still-life images are also anything but natural: you don’t get to play with natural light, searching for it where a second can be different from the previous one. When you’re in a studio with good technical knowledge and equipment, you can almost make miracles happen!”

Camera: X-Pro1 Lens: XF14mm F2.8R Exposure: 18secs  at F2.8, ISO 3200
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF14mm F2.8R
Exposure: 18secs at F2.8, ISO 3200

Luca’s advice for those keen for a life as a travel photographer acknowledges the difficulties that lie ahead – but it’s not impossible. “Unfortunately this sector has become very challenging, due to the high cost of travelling and the fact that almost everything has already been seen and photographed,” he admits. “The only way to work now is having a great idea and creating a project which stands up alone – or having a partner or sponsor to cover your travel expenses.”

Besides taking great pictures, Luca suggests that new photojournalists and documentary makers remember that the story is of equal importance to the shots themselves. “Beautiful pictures are too easily taken,” he says. “The story makes the difference and your work unique, impossible to buy from a stock agency that’s full of tons of beautiful single shots.”

With most of the world under his belt already, what could possibly be next for this adventurous photographer? “Everything – I don’t know – it’s something I’m also keen to discover,” he says excitedly, before packing his bags and heading off to the USA, Fujifilm X-Pro1 in hand, to capture new documentary work in the country’s national parks. He’ll also be blogging this new experience for Fujifilm, so keep your eyes on their Facebook page and watch this space…

Visit Luca Bracali’s website here

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