Our latest X-Thusiast photographer brings an inspiring approach to photographing his subjects. Learn how Mark Loader adds mood and emotion to his images, and be inspired.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from?
My name is Mark Loader and I’m from Perth Western Australia. I currently live in the southern suburbs between Perth and Fremantle. I’m married with three children. You can see my work on Instagram under the name Ranford Stealth.
How did you develop an interest in photography using Fujifilm equipment?
I only took up photography eight years ago (January 2009) after a lifetime of interest, so better late than never! I used DSLRs for the first few years and I still have those but rarely take them out now. I first discovered the X100 and was struck with its usability and IQ. The old-style shutter speed and aperture controls seemed so much more intuitive to me even though I wasn’t active with film SLRs. This naturally progressed to the interchangeable lens models, which I use constantly today.
Fujifilm X-E1 with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS – F14 – 1/250 second – ISO 250
How would you describe your photography style and strategy?
I was lucky in that my good friend Rob Miller is a pro and has mentored me. He impressed upon me the importance of an image’s background and its relationship to the subject. I mostly take portraits and I found this invaluable to my growth as a photographer. So it’s background first always. I try to get as much mood and emotion in a portrait as I can and I put relationship preeminent in my shoots. I like to know my subject. Finding great available light and playing with shadows affects my work as well. Shadows are to light what silence is to sound in music. They go hand in hand.
What inspires your photography?
Where are your favourite places to take photos and do you prefer a certain type of light?
I prefer cityscapes … alleys, lanes, doorways, etc. But I’m always open to new ideas and places.
Fujifilm X-T1 with XF565mmF1.2 R – F5.6 – 1/250 second – ISO 250
What is your favourite memory from a photography session?
A few years ago I went out with a friend (it was about the fourth time I’d shot with her) and we went from about 11am to 5pm (with breaks). Everything clicked that day; she became my muse, and I went home believing I had something to say as a photographer.
Can you tell us what’s your favourite Fujifilm camera to use and why?
Mostly the X-T1, great workhorse and the live preview is wonderful. I always shoot manual so that helps with fine-tuning the exposure. I also use the X-Pro1 and X-E1 … I get attached!
Fujifilm X100 at 23mm – F8 – 1/250 second – ISO 250
Which Fujinon lens or lenses do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm camera and why?
For portraiture I love the XF56mmF1.2. The XF35mmF1.4 is a great all-rounder and the XF23mmF2 for street and it was a great asset for shooting bridal prep indoors at my friend’s wedding last November. I’m a bit stunned by the XF16mmF1.4 at the moment, a surprising choice for me considering I used to think the 35mm was ultra wide! The XF18-55mmF2.8-4 is so much more than a “kit” lens.
What sort of workflow do you use in your photography? Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?
For portraits, I shoot RAW and JPEG, but usually just the latter for street. I edit in LR5 and Nik. Each picture presents a different mood and challenge so I don’t have too many default presets.
Fujifilm X-Pro1 with XF56mmF1.2 R – F2.8 – 1/250 second – ISO 400
Do you have any technical tips you’d like to share? Perhaps suggestions on the best lighting, shutter speed, white balance, aperture, ISO, etc? Other preferences?
Learn the basics, sunny 16 rule, subject/background relationship, rule of thirds, Fibonacci’s principle. Getting it right in camera is a great discipline to adopt from the get go. Anyone who simply says “fix it in Photoshop” should be hunted down and dealt with severely! As should be those who say to ignore the rules. To that I say: Fine, break the rules if you want but do it for a reason, not out of ignorance. My photographic education really started when the camera was no longer an obstacle.
Do you have advice for new photographers or the next potential X-Thusiast?
Be passionate. If you are not then photography may not be for you. That’s ok. Buy books, go for long walks looking for possible locations and where and when the great light hits it. Find a mentor if you can. If not buy “Road To Seeing” by Dan Winters before it’s out of print. Actually grab that book come what may, it’s a mentorship in itself. Find out who the top shooters are in your preferred genres and learn about them. And from them. Lastly, browse some photography quotes. You may find a gem or two in there to live by….”What’s the use of a great depth of field if there is not an adequate depth of feeling?” (W. Eugene Smith)…so be like Nike, fellow togs, and just DO it!
Fujifilm X-Pro1 with XF35mmF1.4 R – F2 – 1/250 second – ISO 500
If you or someone you know in Australia is interested in joining our X-Thusiast community, check out the full X-Thusiast Gallery and submission details here.