I first dabbled with Fujifilm WAY back in 2003 while working on a cruise ship. In an all-film world, we were the first team to go digital with the Fujifilm S2 Pro, and I was really impressed with the quality, so much so, that when I started shooting weddings, I brought an S3 and for the first few years, this was the main camera I used at all of my weddings, but then I went full-frame and moved over to Nikon, and stayed there until the spring of 2016, and the arrival of the X-Pro2.
I’d been lugging around my D4s’ and a handful of prime lenses at weddings for a few years, and it was doing my back no good at all, but it wasn’t until I booked a wedding in the United States that I looked at changing my equipment. “Why change your entire wedding set-up mid way through a season for just one wedding” I hear you shout. Well, the Continue reading “Why I switched BACK to the Fujifilm system”
Professional wedding photographer Andrew Billington tells us why the Fujifilm system works so well for his style of photography and shares his tips to take epic dance floor shots! Not to be missed..
Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?
I had a fairly round about route into becoming a full-time photographer. My background is in theatre and that’s where I worked for 20 years, first as an actor then stage manager. I bought myself a point & shoot digital camera to go on holiday with my wife in 2004 and just wandering around taking photos rekindled the interest I had in photography as a child. My dad had been a keen amateur and I often had a roll of film and an old Zenit 35mm to play with – then it was back home to develop and print the results.
Fast forward to 2005 when I started to take photography seriously again. I bought myself a DSLR and started to take photos around the theatre I was working in. I’ve never been interested in ‘posed’ imagery and a camera seemed an ideal instrument to document the ‘process’ of theatre – rehearsal photographs, technicians at work and actors acting. From there the theatre I was working at started to use some of my photos as marketing materials, the Arts Council UK commissioned me to photograph some things they were doing in schools, and I got some freelance work photographing Ballroom dancing for a couple of publications – all this work came through contacts of people I knew or had met, I didn’t even have a website at this stage!
Why did you choose to shoot with the Fujifilm X series?
I’m interested in documentary photography and telling stories. Once I started playing with the X-Pro1 (in late 2013) I found a camera that let me do this in a really subtle and intimate way. By this stage, I was a full-time photographer photographing mainly weddings and theatre. Walking into a wedding with an X-Pro1 and a 35mm lens was very freeing – I was no longer the person with the biggest kit in the room. People were not intimidated by such a small and interesting looking camera and I found I could be around any situation and get the shot I was looking for without anyone changing their behavior because the ‘official photographer’ was there.
Most of my work is taken in available light and I’ve never really had a problem getting the results I’m looking for from the Fuji X-series cameras. I work with two X-T1s mostly (with a bit of X100T thrown in) and will shoot on fast primes up to 6400iso without blinking – always I’m looking for the best light in any situation then working out how to tell the story in that light.
HOWEVER when it comes to the evening of a wedding and everyone is getting down on the dance floor that’s when I break out the flash!
By this stage of the day I figure everyone has relaxed and I can go for a more ‘night clubby’ look with the photos. Dance floors are a dark place, bands or DJs don’t often bring enough light to illuminate them so at this stage I often have to ADD light. But I still want to stay discreet, self contained and mobile. That’s why I choose to use the very tiny Fuji EF-X20 flash on a sync cord attached to my X-T1 (often with the 10-24mm).
With this set up I can get into the middle of the dance floor action, shoot from any angle and no-one cares you’ve got a camera (even when it’s getting ‘messy’ at the end of the night). If I was shooting with ‘Off Camera Flash’ I’d be limited in the look I would get by where my light stands could go – this way I’m a portable studio. Holding the flash in my left hand (usually high above to the side) and the camera in my right but away from my eye. I ‘zone focus’ so the camera is set manually to focus from 4ft to infinity – at f/10 this is really easy and means that I don’t have to worry about AF in low light but just what’s happening in front of my lens.
These are my default setting for Epic Dance Floor shots: ISO 2000, F10, 1/15th, 14mm, get in close and dance your ass off while photographing.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?
The best thing I could say is to develop your own style and approach to how you photograph. When we start out we all see amazing photographs in a variety of styles and try to copy those in our work – it makes what we do look a little scattergun and inconsistent. Work out what you love photographing, what you are passionate about and a philosophy about how you should approach your photography and then do that. Then do that some more. Then do that better. Then refine it. Do it more. Do it better. Refine it. And on and on it goes.
Every time I pick up a camera I want to create better photographs than I did the last time – better photographs for me equals better photographs for my clients.
What’s next for you?
Put simply – see above. Doing more of what I’m doing but hopefully doing it better.
To see more of Andrew’s beautiful photography, please visit his website and social channels:
Join official X-Photographers Damien Lovegrove, Kevin Mullins and Trevor & Faye Yerbury at The Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP) 2016 Convention in London between the 20th and 24th January 2016.
An official Fujifilm X-Photographer, Damien Lovegrove has become one of the foremost trainers of portrait photography in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has traveled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise.
Damien left his role as a cameraman and lighting director at the BBC back in 1998 after 14 successful years to create the renowned Lovegrove Weddings partnership with his wife Julie. Together they shot over 400 top weddings for discerning clients worldwide.
In 2008 Damien turned his hand to shooting beauty & portraiture and has since amassed a dedicated following for his distinctive art.
Superclass: “Master Location Lighting” 10:00 – 16:00 Wednesday 20th Jan
On this 6 hour photography workshop at a unique London Location, you will learn a variety of trade-secret interior portrait lighting techniques. You will use the beauty of natural light as well as use continuous spotlights to add a sense of drama to your shots.
This is a styled, fashion orientated shoot that will give you the knowledge and skills to recreate a repertoire of lighting setups – changing the way you see the world around you. Throughout the session Damien will provide you with hands-on instruction and an excellent grounding in how you and your camera can achieve amazing results.
Masterclass: “Top tips to create Striking Portraits” 16:00 – 18:00 Thursday 21st Jan
Damien will discuss the 7 top techniques that he uses to create and capture those key moments in portraits. He will explain in detail a number of important elements that you can combine to produce great images. Having a strategy and a vision is fundamental in creating portraits that wow and this is your chance to learn from a contemporary master at first hand.
Kevin is a wedding photographer by trade with a passion for people watching. He wants his wedding photographs to be snapshots of real, uncontrived but tender moments in time.
He wants his clients to be taken right back to that moment in time when the image was exposed and see it from their guests eye view. For Kevin it is imperative that his clients don’t remember their wedding day as a fashion shoot with the photographer. He would rather they forget entirely about him, but in 50 years’ time when they are showing their grandchildren the pictures of their wedding they can point to real moments, real people, real photographs.
Location seminar: “West End Street Photography” 10:00 – 16:00 Thursday 21st Jan
Join Kevin on this six-hour sojourn around the streets of the West End of London.
The session will start with a briefing where we will discuss the core elements of good street photography and we will finish off with a beer and de-brief.
Kevin’s Street Photography workshops sell out each time and this is a great opportunity to dip your toes into the fascinating world of candid street shooting, or, for the more experienced, understand how Kevin works in more detail when shooting on the streets.
Masterclass: “Pure Wedding Photojournalism from the Heart” 9:00 – 11:00 Friday 22nd Jan
The session will explore what’s needed to be a successful wedding photojournalist, from both an artistic point of view and from the business elements.
There will be a frank and open discussion about client management, expectation and the mechanisms of building a business based on candid wedding photography. You will spend time analysing images, see full weddings, and dissect the factors of this genre that are so appealing to clients. Kevin will also talk about his migration from DSLR to a fully mirrorless configuration.
Most wedding photographers shoot at least some candid photography and this Masterclass is aimed at anyone who wants to either improve that element of their photography, or, who want to move their business more in the direction of wedding photojournalism.
Superclass: “SEO is Changing” 14:00 – 18:00 Saturday 23rd Jan
In this session Kevin will discuss everything you need to know to get up to date with the changing world of Search. Be prepared to take lots of notes and take away with you the knowledge that will get you onside with Google.
We will talk about the huge power of Social Media, Graph Search and the Network so… If you think SEO is about Keywords, think again!
As true educators with a wealth of experience behind them you could do no better than attend one of Trevor and Faye Yerbury’s workshops where you will learn how they light their portraits in the studio and on location or how they designed one of the most successful boudoir marketing promotions.
Trevor Yerbury comes from a long and historic family of professional photographers. Trevor’s Great Grandfather established the company in 1864 and Trevor is the 4th generation to carry out the family tradition.
Faye joined Trevor full time in 1996 and has earned an enviable reputation for her work. On 3 occasions she has won the title of “Kodak UK Child Photographer of the Year”. She also holds a Kodak Gold Award and, like Trevor, is a Master of the Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers.
They are both Fellows of the SWPP, MPA and are invited Fellows of the Royal Photographic Society a rare honour. In 2014 they both were awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Seminar: “Fine Art Nude Location Class” 10:00 – 16:00 Friday 22nd Jan
Trevor and Faye Yerbury have been photographing the Fine Art Nude for over 30 years and are represented by galleries in Amsterdam and New York. Collectors worldwide seek out their work, which are printed on the finest art paper using the platinum/palladium process. Their work has appeared in countless books and magazines. The Glasshouse Hotel commissioned over 240 of the art nude images from their archives for wall artwork to grace the hotels bedrooms and suites. They have also had exhibitions in Edinburgh – London – Madrid – Malta – Paris and Vancouver.
This unique Location Shoot provides a unique opportunity to spend a day with Trevor and Faye exploring their world of fine art photography of the female figure.
Masterclass: “Lighting Portraiture” 14:00 – 16:00 Sunday 24th Jan
Trevor and Faye will take you through their history in portrait photography with examples from 4 generations of the Yerbury dynasty including original portraits of Andrew Carnegie, J M Barrie, King George 1V and many others.
This will be a very inclusive seminar as they take you through a series of their classic and contemporary portraits and talk about the session, how they approached it and how the subject reacted. They will also demonstrate how they approach a portrait session and what equipment they use.
Let these five professional wedding photographers tell you about their experience of making the switch from D-SLR to Fujifilm X
So you’re thinking about making the switch to a Fujifilm mirrorless system. You’ve read the reviews, watched the videos and listened to people tell you how their experience of shooting weddings has changed since they halved the weight they carry around for 14 hours every Saturday. They might have also mentioned how much time they have saved with post processing due to the quality of Fujifilm’s JPG files. Or how many candid shots they are getting now since they blend in with the other guests.
But you’re still not sure.
Let these five professional wedding photographers tell you about their experience of making the switch.
If they can do it, why can’t you?
Ian Weldon – Ian Weldon Photography
“I had my Canon 5D II in my bag and a 580 EX-II Speedlight, just in case. My head was spinning all day and I must have opened that bag 3 or 4 times and had to force myself to not take the ‘easy way out’.”
“After that day, nearly 4 years ago, I’ve never used anything other than Fuji cameras for my wedding work. Light, inconspicuous and all round pretty cool. What more could a documentary style wedding photographer need?”
“80% of my wedding work is shot with the X-Pro1 and 18mm f2 and the rest, mostly dancing shots, are with the X-T1 and 18mm f2. I do switch to the 35mm f1.4 on occasion for that extra bit of reach and use a Nissin i40 flash with sync chord. That’s it, liberating!”
“I first used Fuji at a wedding way back with the original X-Pro & 35mm in July 2013, originally using it alongside a DSLR. I loved it, but it wasn’t until 2014 and the purchase of an X-T1 along with the 23mm & 56mm that the system really took over my wedding photography.”
“The Canon 5d3 was rather swiftly retired; there’s a lot that I love about the Fuji system but for me the main eye-opener that changed the way I work is the tilt-screen. I shoot weddings in a documentary fashion and the tilt-screen has become a firm favourite of mine. I love being able to move among guests in tight receptions with a wide-angle prime and the ability to shoot with the back screen as a waist level viewfinder. I get so many shots without people noticing I am there and without the intimidation of a camera raised to the eye. I can get closer and make shots with a feeling of intimacy and of being there – with a guest’s eye perspective.”
“For a wedding photojournalist I think the combination of image quality, ease of use, discretion and weight (or lack of!) that the Fuji system offers is outstanding. Nowadays I shoot with 3 X-T1 bodies and mostly the 16mm f1.4, the 35mm f1.4 and the 90mm f2 lenses and I am immensely happy with the system as a whole.”
“I switched from Nikon to Fuji in the latter half of 2014, after Damien Lovegrove advised me this was the future. I’m a disabled Photographer, so the weight of the DSLR has always been a problem by causing me to be more unbalanced.”
“When I switched to the Fuji X-T1 I was astonished by the weight of the camera and the images that were coming out of it, in my opinion superior straight out of the camera compared with the Nikon. The Fuji X-System has really helped me with my disability, no more arm aches and back ache”
“I shoot all my weddings using nothing more than the Fuji X-T1 and the X-Pro 1 with the 27mm, 18mm and the 16-55mm lenses. I don’t use flash, unless I’m getting creative after the wedding with a Cactus for some off camera flash work, I find that the ambient light, a low F-Stop and an ISO of 6400 is easily manageable.”
“We are documentary style wedding photographers, based in Bicester, Oxfordshire. Our style is to photograph the whole day, from preparation to well past the first dance. We starting using Fuijfilm X-series equipment a couple of years ago, to lighten the load on a long wedding shoot, but to also make us less obvious during the day.”
“With our DSLR gear, we found guests would pose and point at us. Using our 2 X-T1’s and X100T we are able to mingle with the guests and take natural, relaxed images. It is truly liberating to shoot a whole wedding with just a small shoulder bag, two bodies and 4 lenses.”
“The image quality from our X equipment is fantastic, as are the lenses. We are totally committed to Fujifilm equipment now.”
“I’ve been a commercial photographer for a while now but have recently decided to start offering a documentary style wedding coverage. I’ve thought about it before but I’ve always resisted as I’ve never liked the wedding pictures I’ve seen in the past – all grip and grin, faked smiles and endless group shots which don’t tell you anything other than what people wore on the day.”
“As a contrast to the highly technical staged commercial studio work I do I want to tell stories. To tell stories I have to be in the middle of the action or at least very close to it and so when picking kit to do this with I settled on the Fuji X system.”
“I already had an X-Pro1 for personal use and the quality was fantastic – so good in fact that its sometimes hard to match the jpg quality with a RAW edit. The X-T1 I’ve added to the kit bag now is even better as it its a more responsive in use and is completely silent with the electronic shutter allowing me to be stood right next to the registrar or vicar and shooting without them knowing about it.”
“I can be right in the middle of the action capturing the story of the day without people stopping and gurning at the lens. Because of the small size of the kit I can move fast and easily and not worry about a massive lump of glass and metal swinging around as I move. I’ve shot one wedding this way so far and look forward to many more.”
I’ve been a massive fan of Canon since becoming a professional photographer around ten years ago. Photography is in my blood, passing down through family generations, and I currently shoot around 60 to 70 weddings a year in Staffordshire, Cheshire and throughout the UK.
I had been reading some excellent reviews about the new Fuji X-T1 cameras and lenses. Lightweight, portable, compact and an incredible (EVF) electronic viewfinder which enabled the user to see live changes including white balance, exposure and so on.
And yet, was I really ready to move from my trustworthy Canon 5D MKIII’s and 1DX to the lightweight Fuji X-T1?
I contacted Fuji regarding loan units but all the loan units were out with other photographers. So here’s the brave bit. I jumped straight in and traded-in my tried, tested and trustworthy Canon 1DX there and then for the new Fuji X-T1, together with the 56mm f1.2 and 23mm F1.4 lenses.
And the results? Incredible. Fuji had since then gone on to loan me an XF16-55 F2.8 and XF50-140 F2.8 lenses to use with the X-T1. Although I was apprehensive at first to use this new Fuji equipment at weddings, I eventually found myself over the past month or so using it more and more.
Here’s why I was so blown away with the results:
• The lightweight and compact Fuji X-T1 camera has revolutionised my working day – more portable, increased maneuverability, and less back-ache!
• The EVF is amazing – One massive advantage and top tip. When shooting manual focus or ‘back button focusing’ I get a split screen image in the EVF which contains a 100% preview of the focus point and a overall framed image. I am also able to adjust and see live results of exposure changes giving me a full knowledge of exactly what the finalised image will look like. In fact, I’ve found myself shooting fully manual most of the day as opposed to 60-80% Aperture priority on the Canon’s.
• The nifty folding screen helps me to reach those awkward high-up shots and low-down shots much more easily, albeit reaching high above the bride during bridal preparation or shooting low, such as ground or water level.
• The 56mm F1.2 lens is amazing – it’s one of the sharpest lenses I have ever worked with.
• And the 50-140mm F2.8 lens is really good too, in fact, seriously good – the lens is pin sharp throughout the whole focal range.
• Amazing natural light images are captured, the colour warmth and depth to the images is stunning. If you process in Lightroom like myself I would strongly advise changing the ‘Camera Calibration Profile’ back to Fuji’s own profile as Lightroom as a tendency of applying ‘Adobe Standard’ to all imported images. The photographs seem to show a ‘film look’ using Fuji’s profile and can be a little bland when using Adobe Standard.
Any negatives? Not many. I need three or four batteries to get me through the day (bit more than usual). And, with only one SD card, I miss that automatic back-up throughout the day. Plus, the Fuji focus tracking falls a little short of Canon’s. And I still prefer to work with raw images, despite Fuji’s track-record on JPG quality.
And finally, the million-dollar question..
Would I recommend the Fujifilm X-T1 and the above mentioned lenses to other wedding photographers?
Most definitely, yes. The 16-55 f2.8 is a direct competitor for the Canon 24-70 f2.8 and the 50-140 f2.8 for the Canon 70-200, pretty bold statements I know as these lenses have such a proven track record and any wedding photographer will tell you these are the ‘must have’ lenses.
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