An interview with the photographer.
What style of photography do you shoot the most?
Travel portraiture is my photographic passion, I try to spend a few of months every year capturing images of people in their natural environments, in the past years I have lived in remote villages in Tanzania, Nepal and Nicaragua to name a few.
What camera and lens combination do you use most often and why does it work for you?
My main kit for my travel photography is the Fujifilm XT-2 paired with the battery grip. I also generally take along the extremely lightweight Fujifim XT-20 as I feel it compliments the X-T2 perfectly and for me it is always a good idea to take a spare when travelling remotely.
As my primary subject is travel portraiture myoihggwith the X system is the 50-140 mm f2.8, this lens is perfect for my style of portraiture as it manages to perfectly isolate the subject from their backdrop really drawing you into their emotions.
With a beautiful drop off with the aperture wide open at 2.8 and being slightly smaller than its DSLR equivalent this lens is a permanent piece of my travel kit. The fact that the lens is weather proof and a robust build is essential for me especially within the wide range of climates that I visit.
I also use the 16-55mm f2.8, and the 90mm prime f2, as they offer extra features that the long lens doesn’t, for example, for landscapes and portraits with a context the 16-55 is a beautiful lens, the fact that it is weather proof is great as mentioned previously.
The XT-2 is the perfect travel body, with all of the outstanding quality you would expect from a Fujifilm body, being mirrorless it has the advantage of being lighter and more compact. The battery grip does make the body larger however it is essential for me with this kit as when travelling to some very remote areas I need to longevity of the extra two batteries,
The super fast two hour charge of two batteries is perfect for keeping everything full of life, especially in Africa or Nepal where the electricity supply can be very sporadic or sometimes non-existant, I take it where I can get it.
If you could provide other photographers with one or two top photography tips, what would they be?
The tip that I give all of the photographers that I mentor is to learn to “see” light. This for me is the most important skill for the photographer to have. Learning how to use the light in any situation is key to producing stunning portraiture. The other tip, would be to become visually aware, studying other genres of creative media to draw inspiration for their own work, learning how to use light, textures, colour and composition.
Please pick one photo which you are the most proud of or admire the most and explain a little as to why you chose this one.
The image that I am most proud of, is one that I shot on my first expedition for Raleigh International. I was in an extremely remote village Miganga in the centre of Tanzania. As part of the communications team we had been asked to write a piece on the wife of the village leader, for International Women’s day.
Mumma Grace was extremely nervous whilst we were capturing the images, (Tanzanians still have the belief that an image taken of them takes a piece of their soul). Thankfully with the aid of a wonderful volunteer translator, I was able to reassure her that it would be a good experience for her to have a portrait taken for the article. When complete we were able to give Grace a copy of the with accompanying images and the smile on her face relayed a thousand words! To see herself in print was a new experience for her, the pride was infectious! They even mounted it and popped it in a frame for her wall pride of place.
Why do you prefer shooting mirrorless? What advantages of mirrorless are important to you and why?
Initially I was sceptical about changing systems, however now when I pick up cumbersome and clunky DSLR’ s I wonder why! There are so many advantages to the system, which is clearly why now nearly all are following suit however initially I was struck by two main reasons to change system, these being:
Size and weight
When travelling the flexibility of being able to fit more kit into my bag is great, giving me the choice of a wider variety of lenses for use in the field. I can fit everything I need into my flight bag no question.
The EVF (electronic View Finder)
The electronic view finder also for me was a revelation when I switched from DSLR to a mirrorless system being able to see in the viewfinder the actual exposure is wonderfully useful, and gives me more time to consider my composition, framing and the expression of the subject, knowing that the final outcome will be exactly as I see it in camera.
Do you use film simulation modes? Which do you use the most often and why do you use this Film Simulation mode?
I tend to use the film simulation modes in editing, I shoot Raw files and then process them in Camera Raw and assign a profile here, depending on the style of the shot, I generally use either, pro neg high or classic chrome, as these tend to compliment my style of portraiture, giving good skin tones,and wonderful depth to the images.
Where / what is your favourite town, city, landscape, location, or subject to photograph and why?
Wherever I travel, people always ask me this question, and to be honest its a pretty difficult one to answer, having been lucky enough to travel to some incredible places. They are all so different and have qualities that the others don’t. However Kathmandhu, Nepal, has to be up there as one of my favourites, the vibrant colours and textures, beautiful characters and amazing scenery make for a wonderful location for portraiture. In particular, Pashupatinath Temple on the river is hugely atmospheric and culturally very important to the Nepali’s. Whenever I am there I try and have a good walk around at dusk when the light is just magical, and the atmosphere is inspiring.