Through a photographer’s eye is the first in a series of interviews featuring Australian photographers. In each interview, we learn about the person behind the camera and how they use Fujifilm X Series cameras to photograph the world around them. Our first interview is with Sydney based photographer, Drew Hopper.
Drew, what do you look for when taking a photo and how has photography shaped your career?
To me, photography is the art of observation. I try my best to find something interesting in everyday life and transform it into something surprising and captivating. For me, photography is about seeing things from a new perspective. If I can capture a moment and create some kind of tension that makes the viewer feel something then that to me is a successful photograph. As a photographer specialising in travel and documentary, stories are an integral part of my work. I strive to capture images that convey a sense of discovery with a story from everyday life moments. My goal as a visual storyteller is to be utterly infectious so that my audience can connect and feel something on an emotional level.
Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F4 – 1/100 second – ISO 200
I never intended on becoming a full time ‘professional’ photographer. My love for the craft has kept me moving forward. After my first trip overseas the travel bug hooked me and there was no turning back. My journey as a photographer originated as a landscape photographer on the beautiful Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. My passion for the natural world led my desire to explore other parts of the world, which saw my journey as a landscape shooter evolve into the travel realm. I spend a lot of my time travelling abroad, mostly in Asia.
Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F8 – 1/125 second – ISO 200
By the looks of things, you travel abroad often to capture people and subjects that interest you. Did you choose the X100S for this reason and what do you like most about the camera?
Yes, I spend a lot of time travelling throughout Asia. During my first trip overseas I packed way too much camera equipment, which ended up becoming a burden. On my second trip I still carried my Canon DSLR, however, I also purchased an X100S. I ended up leaving my Canon kit at the hotel most days and went out shooting with the Fujifilm system. I just love how compact and discreet the X system is – it definitely was beneficial in mixing with the locals without standing out too much with a big camera. I find that when I shoot with the X100S people tend to turn a blind eye towards you being a ‘pro’ with a fancy camera.
Fujifilm X-E1 – XF18-55mm – F2.8 – 1/40 second – ISO 250
Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F5.6 – 1/4 second – ISO 800
Did you have any travel photography tips you could share with our readers?
The best advice I can offer aspiring travel photographers is to always ‘work the scene’ to get that perfect shot. This is usually a subtractive process, which means excluding certain elements from my frame to remove any clutter or unwanted distractions from the image before taking the shot. I apply this technique of shooting to all my photography, even landscapes. I cannot simply move part of a landscape; I must work the scene in order to make the scene work for me. If you want that shot then you need to really work for it – the X100S is fun for this as it’s so compact.
Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F4 – 1/210 second – ISO 400
Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F5.6 – 1/240 second – ISO 200
Can you tell us the story behind your favourite photo captured on the Fujifilm X100S?
I don’t really have any all time favourite photos, but there is one that resonates with me. I’ve been focused on geometric patterns and shapes a lot when I’m travelling especially in places like Vietnam with the conical hats. I took this image in Hoi An Ancient Town on a sunny morning with the X100S. I waited patiently for about 10 minutes after finding my backdrop (the yellow wall) with a triangle shadow falling into part of the frame. The electronic viewfinder allowed me to position myself to compose the image, all I had to do was wait for someone to pass by to finish the shot. It’s a pretty surreal feeling watching your images unfold in real time right before your eyes – The X system rocks for this!
Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F4 – 1/2000 second – ISO 400
How did you get into writing for publications such as Australian Geographic, Outdoor Magazine, Australian Photography Magazine and UK Digital Photography Magazine?
I was never really interested in writing, however since taking up photography and looking for other ways to generate income I fell into being commissioned for assignments that involved writing articles. I found out very quickly that it’s not what you know, but who you know in this competitive industry.
Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F2 – 1/180 second – ISO 400
If you have some advice for someone starting out in photography what would it be?
Just get out there and shoot! It is not about becoming famous or having all the gear available on the market. It is about enjoying yourself and finding your own style. Shoot what you like shooting, and avoid copying the work of others with the belief that it will make you a ‘better’ photographer. It’s totally fine to follow other photographer’s work, that’s how you find inspiration, but don’t compare yourself to other people’s success. Make your own success. Most importantly, save your money for a flight somewhere, not camera gear. Memories are worth more, and great photos wait for no one.
Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F2 – 1/320 second – ISO 400
Recently you expanded your reviews to include the Fujifilm X-T2. In four sentences what do you like most about the camera and what do you think needs improving?
The discreet and compact size in a nice lightweight package offers me an abundance of photographic opportunities that I may have never imagined lugging around my bulkier DSLR system. Mirrorless is evolving so quickly and it’s an exciting time to be experimenting and using these nifty cameras to their full potential. There’s not much I can really fault the X-T2 on, however, I do wish the articulating screen folded back in on itself, similar to the articulating screen on the Canon 60D. Overall it’s a quality build and shoots impressive images.
How important to you is getting the photo right in camera first? Does the Fujifilm X Series system help you achieve this?
I’m a firm believer in nailing the shot in camera rather than relying on editing software to ‘save’ or manipulate what could have been achieved at the time of capture. The electronic viewfinder combined with Fujifilm’s dedicated dials has enabled me to master my shooting style and post-processing workflow. I find myself shooting jpeg a lot more since switching to Fujifilm. The jpeg files are beautifully rich in colour and contrast, which does not require much enhancement in post-processing. For me, that’s the biggest selling point for Fujifilm cameras. Less time in front of the computer and more time out doing what I love!
Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F2 – 1/250 second – ISO 800