Tag: Fuji xt20

Portrait photographer, North London

Well I don’t want to jinx it, but I do ALWAYS seem to get very lucky with the weather on my location portraits! Saturday was no exception!

Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath was the location and when I arrived it was just glorious sunshine, the park was pretty much empty apart from a couple of dog walkers, and joggers.

I was slightly early , so I parked the camera bag on a bench and sat in the sunshine contemplating life, you can’t get better than a beautiful, spring morning in London.

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The portraits I was shooting were of four cousins, ages ranged between 3 and 7, so I new it was going to be a lively one, I made the most of the peace until they arrived! ūüôā

All four had their own unique personalities, which is really lovely to image, and all had a great relationship with each other, which is so lovely to capture.

The colours of the shrubs in the park were glorious and made a perfect backdrop to the portraits of the children, I will defiantly be suggesting this location for further portraits, so many wonderful places.

Here are a few of my favourites, the expressions are just priceless!

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If you would like a portrait shoot anytime up until July I have some special offers running on my website, but only very limited availability. Especially for weekends.

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Family portraits, London
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Family photographer, London

After this I will be away volunteering for Raleigh International in Nicaragua for nearly three months and will return early September for some gorgeous Autumn shoots, If you would like to book a shoot for the Autumn shoots please donate to the just giving page for my up and coming trip to secure your place. A minimum donation of £75 is required.

I look forward to seeing you all when I get back! And if you would like to keep up to date with my travels, please join the instagram page, (link above) or follow this blog!

Saraya x



The best all round photography kit!

The Photography Show was super busy for me! It was a manic few days, with lots of nerves, noise, and of course loads of new kit to get excited over!

I ran a fuji workshop, a live shoot with 3 gorgeous child models on the big stage! A talk on my travel photography, and 5 portfolio reviews, at the end of the four days I was pretty exhausted, and grateful to get back to normality!

Many thanks to all of you that came along to support me! I hope you gained some valuable information and inspiration that was useful to you! Your comments have been really lovely and very much appreciated!

After meeting with so many interesting people I was surprised¬†that the most common question fired at me was….What is the best kit to have ?

Now I have always said that it is not the camera kit ¬†but the eye and emotion of the photographer that makes the image! To quote one of my favourite photographers….

“It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”

Eve Arnold

However, I do also realise that being a portrait photographer in London, one of the most important criteria in a camera system, is that I need a kit that is portable, and easy to carry everywhere.

I also need the quality of the image to be outstanding! And complement my work, and workflow.

With my children’s portraiture I travel¬†all over London, to some wonderful¬†locations, hopping on and off busy tube trains and busses is great fun, but my kit needs to be compact and easily accessible when the shoot starts.

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When I am commissioned for my travel portraits around the world, again, the kit needs to be versatile, with every piece as useful as the other. I try not to carry  kit that is going to remain in my bag and be redundant, its just a waste of energy! Especially when I travel to some really remote and difficult places to access.

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Nepal travel portraits
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And again, I still need the bodies and lenses that I use, to produce sharp and well balanced images that are beautiful and rich with colour.

Here is the kit that¬†I now take EVERYWHERE….and the reasons why ! I hope it helps!

So first off the bag that comes with me…

Billingham Bag 550

I first borrowed my lovely Billingham bag from my boyfriend (who is also a photographer) and to be honest, I have never given it back! Its just perfect for what I do!

It slings over my shoulder, both bodies and lenses are easy to grab whenever I want, each has it’s¬†own little compartment so I know where they are at all times.

On location and constantly moving throughout my shoots, I need to be able to grab lenses quickly, so the rucksack option just wouldn’t work for me, to have everything just there is ideal.

The 550 Billingham is also the perfect size for travelling, not only can I fit all of my chosen gear into it, I can also fit a mac book nicely into the rear pocket, and it also fits portable hard drives, passports, money and other bits into the front pockets, so is perfect for aeroplane carry on!

And I can chuck it in the washing machine if needed! (when I returned from Africa it was nearly as smelly as me!)

Fujifilm X-T2

You can read my thoughts on this camera  and the X-T20 in previous blogs (just click the link above), but the short version is: they are the perfect camera system for what I do, with the mirrorless bodies, I am carrying far less weight but not losing any quality of image. Simple.

Fuji X-T2 battery grip/charger

This is a must have, especially if you are travelling to remote locations as I do (sometimes with no mains power), to have the batteries charge whilst still on the camera in a super fast 2 hours is really very useful.

The boost option available on the battery grip, also gives the photographer the added extras such as, autofocus .2 of a second faster, and high speed continuous shooting is powered up from 8 to 11 fps. (there are other features, however these are the two that make a difference in my work)

With the longer lenses such as the 50-140mm the body also feels more ergonomically balanced with the grip on, this of you used to the handle and feel of a DSLR will feel more at home with the grip on.

I also carry with me 4 spare batteries (charged)

Fujifilm X-T20

As above

Fuji 18mm, f2 prime

A lovely small lens, great for landscapes and street photography, especially as it is just so small and inconspicuous!

Fuji 90mm, f2, prime

A gorgeous portrait lens, the bokeh on this lens is just sublime at F2! And is perfectly sharp! I lOVE this lens!

Fuji 16-55, F2.8 XF zoom

A really versatile lens, great for landscapes and portraits with more background context, a good all rounder.

If you are starting out with the mirrorless system, this would be the lens that I would recommend!

Fuji 50-140, f2.8 XF zoom

A beautiful quality lens, and probably my most used for portraits, both of children and for my travel work!

It is just lovely to work  with and the drop off is perfect for the style of work that I like to produce, you will see from the exif data on the most of my images how I have used all of the lenses.


I always carry a reflector, just to boost light into areas where it may be lacking, I specifically like this reflector because the size means it can fit easily into the back of my  bag.

On all of my commissions I don’t have an assistant, so its great for me to be able to use this reflector one handed, such a thoughtful design.

And I love the gold and white side of the reflector, for portraits it can give a gorgeous warm glow to a flat lit portrait.

Wish list!

Well as photographers we are always looking for that new piece of kit!¬†I don’t have everything! And I am very much contemplating the 56mm (I just cant decide between the 1.2 or the APD).

And I would LOVE one of the new Billingham 550’s in blue they are just sooo gorgeous!

But I’ve travelled to some really special places with my current one, and would feel a little disloyal (I’m sure I would get over it!)

So there we have it, my list of kit that I take out on all of my portrait or travel shoots!


This kit may not be right for everyone, but for me as a travel and portrait photographer it covers all bases, and gives me the full range of lenses that compliment my style of work.

I hope that helps! But do please ping me a comment or a message if I have not covered everything?!

Saraya xx


The X-T20, for the Junkyard?

Just before christmas last year, after my trip to Nepal, I was involved in a really exiting little project…….

I am lucky enough to be able to shoot some of my children’s portraits in some of the coolest places in London, and Gods own Junk Yard,¬†has to be high on the list of SUPER COOL places to shoot!

Hidden away on an industrial estate in Walthamstow, the exterior really hides the secrets of this amazing place.

I first shot a lovely family of 6 here last summer, and knew I needed to come back! It was just amazing!

The images below were both shot on the Fuji X-T2, when the junkyard was open to the public (its a coffee shop also!) it gets very busy! And we needed to be quick.



I had since been asked to create a short film of me using the new X-T20, that I had been given a prototype version to test, and knew the perfect location to do this!

My model was the amazing Misha, whom I had worked with before, so I knew she would perform under pressure! This time we were lucky enough to have the whole place to ourselves for a couple of hours and this gave us a good time to explore and use the entire space, what a treat! If you ever get a chance to visit the Junkyard you must, its a real gem!

We managed to give the camera a proper trial, and it performed as expected, the fast focusing, wide focusing points, and ease of control were perfect to use in this situation!

The new touch screen feature was brilliant, and allowed me to quickly see if the images were in focus and colours correct, an action that is something that we are so used to doing now with our phones, it doesn’t take much to figure out what you are meant to do! Swiping from shot to shot or zooming in or out,¬†its fast and makes sense.

The X-T20 coped extremely well with some tricky lighting and colour scenarios, which for me was reassuring, I should have expected this from the Fuji team, with colour a speciality. We lit all of the portraits with continuous LED’s to combat the colour casts from all of that lovely neon, and the EVF read the light perfectly!

Yet again, I am left feeling that Fuji has made a body that is just instinctive, something to just pick up and shoot, without have to trudge through pages and pages of instructions.

The retro feel and design of the Fuji X system cameras that we already love, paired with the technologies of the present and the future all rolled into one! A great little camera that I am looking forward to introducing into my kit,  I may even go for the silver X-T20 how gorgeous is that!


At the end of the project the final out come was this lovely little film highlighting some of the features of the X-T20, movie of portrait photographer Saraya Cortaville. Please take a look!

And of course some great vibrant images for Misha and her mum!



What a little superstar!

And thank you very much to the wonderful Neal James for all of his hard work producing the film.

Saraya x



The perfectly formed, FUJI X-T20!

I am sure all of you by now have read all of the amazing reviews of all of the new Fuji film products that were excitingly released on the 19th of Jan! So my experiences? Well where to begin

As a portrait and travel photographer the obvious choice for me of the new arrivals was the X-T20, a smaller more compact little sister of the the X-T2 (a camera that I now use for ALL of my portraiture and travel commissions).

In November 2016, I was approached by Fujifilm asking if I would be interested in having a trial of another of their prototype cameras. Now is any photographer going to say no, to such a great opportunity? You’d be a fool not to get involved!

The very next day I was off on my travels again as a trainer for the wonderful Photojourney in Nepal, I packed up the x-T2 in my Billy bag and  just popped in the X-T20, and hoped that I would get a chance to give it a go.

With most of the prototypes that are sent out there are always some initial glitches, but I managed to get it up and running for a few days whilst up in the hills of Barpak, Nepal.

It was so small I would often take it out on my golden hour walks, something that I try and do everyday whilst visiting a new area, I would pop on either the 90mm or 56mm prime lens on and that would be it!

The following images were taken a year and a half after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, and I wanted to really highlight the way the town had managed to regenerate and develop with vigour and pride after such an epic event, it was really very inspiring!

As the X-t20 was a pre-production model, I was unable to shoot RAW so shot all of the images in Jpeg, and then processed after in Nik software as I love the BW conversion, I was amazed by the quality and depth of the files and the sharpness! Sheesh! That 56mm APD lens is something else!

The biggest benefit to the size was that I found was that I could very discreetly hand hold the camera, in all situations and it is pretty much unnoticed, really nice when you are trying to get natural portraits.

Even more so when imaging the children of Barpak, (and there were LOTS of children!) as they were certainly less intimidated with the smaller body, I was amazed how close to the subjects I was able to get.

I’m not one to go into to all the new technologies and features, but as a photographer who likes things easy I just like things to work the way they should!

Photography for me is more about the connection and interaction with the subject, and this lovely little piece of kit certainly allowed me to have that! The eye contact that I was able to maintain was easier as I was not behind a huge DSLR,  quite often I would use the flip screen with my eyes above camera to draw an expression from the subject!

The controls and menus are pretty much the same as the X-T2, so I was used to where everything was, just slight differences were noted but nothing too out of the way.

After returning from Nepal and a couple of firmware updates (very normal for the pre-production models) I was able to shoot RAW and the files as expected did not disappoint! The files are BIG! And again lots of depth and clarity.

I am still experimenting with the body and it has also recently been in my kit for a recent family holiday to Costa Rica, it was a great to take out on days and to the beach, and I am sure it will be a great add on to my work kit also!

I am now thinking of carrying two bodies (this one being the extra) to my portrait shoots, so that I am able to seamlessly shoot both wide and long lenses quickly! When shooting children at speed this can only be of benefit! I will update you when I have started my London portrait shoots in a few weeks! (its just too cold out there at the moment!)

In the meantime for all of the camera details just click on the images above we really could learn a lot from their strength of character!

Saraya x






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