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Why I chose Fujifilm X – Andrew Billington

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Guest blogger

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

Headshot-1I 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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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What’s next for you?

Put simply – see above. Doing more of what I’m doing but hopefully doing it better.

Contact info

To see more of Andrew’s beautiful photography, please visit his website and social channels:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/BillingtonPhoto

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Andrew-Billington-Photography-127502644273/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/billingtonphoto/

Website – http://documentary-wedding.com

 

 

27 replies »

  1. Really interesting to see what gear you are using. It’s exactly the sort of thing I am looking to use to keep things minimal at events. Great images too! Love the black and white flash images, very much what I like to do.

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  2. Apart from the dancing I did the exact same thing with ef-x20 off camera flash a few weeks ago. Camera on rear (2nd) curtain it is also easy to create light trails with a snap of the wrist when taking the shot. X-pro2 with 16mm focus great in low light, was at f5.6 mostly. Nice to read I am not the only one 😉

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  3. Beautiful photos, and a great article. I have just started shooting my weddings using Fuji X cameras and the lack of weight is truly liberating! And your dance floor technique is very similar to what I use – however the manual focus tip works a treat!

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    • Great article. It inspired me to attempt the manual focus tip. I’m not sure I’m on the right track. Is it just changing the camera button from af to m and manuallyfocusing at a point (nor far away. say 4ft). Then not touching the focus again. Or is it using the af lock button on the rear of the camera? Advice wouLd be appreciated.

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  4. ‘Why did you choose to shoot with the Fujifilm X series?’ The reasons you mention are a very nice summary of what I’m trying to tell my students. As a professionale I must say that my x100s is my best investment ever. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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  5. Nice photos. I’ve been looking for a several sites that could help me on some guidelines about photography. Now I found it in your blog. Thanks for the information. Keep posting.

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  6. LOVED this article ! ! ! AND the pics. I had just bought the sync chord and EF-X20 flash to do this very same thing. Are you setting the flash on “X” “N” or “P”? I’m assuming you want it to operate in TTL as opposed to Manual; right?.

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