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Soulful Travel Portraits with the FUJIFILM X-T3

By Saraya Cortaville

X-Photographer Saraya Cortaville took the new FUJIFILM X-T3 on a trip to Marrakesh, Morocco to capture some moving travel portraits. In this article she talks about her experience with photographing the locals and how she got on with the latest addition to the Fujifilm line-up.


Being a travel and portrait photographer I headed to Marrakesh to test the 4th generation X Series camera, the new FUJIFILM X-T3, to see what the camera is really capable of.

I have always loved visiting new places and Marrakesh was somewhere that I had never been before. People had told me of the colourful markets and the vibrancy of the city and they were right! The energy of the city was a real treat for the senses; the colours, the smells and the food were all just incredible. But the HEAT… that HEAT, however, was just unbelievable! I think it reached over 40° while we were there and I think even the locals were getting a little bit British regarding the weather.

As with most countries I visit, I had done some research beforehand and after reading many blogs and guides I was under the impression that I would be met with a lot of resistance making it difficult to take images of the locals. It quickly became apparent that this was true. Marrakesh is certainly not for the first time travel portrait photographer. You need a thick skin and need to be prepared for people shouting at you from every corner! The locals seemed to have a sixth sense for spotting photographers. With hand gestures and expletives flying all over the place, it was hard to capture my normal style of natural, honest portraits.

Half way through the shoot I questioned why on earth I had chosen to go there! However by remaining undaunted and with lots of perseverance I believed that I would able to capture the essence of the city and its characters as, after all, they are the heart and soul of what makes a place interesting. And if people were not going let me take their portraits directly, I would use my skills to try and let that come across in my imagery, to illustrate that culture to the viewer.
When visiting a new country I am struck by the unique colour palette. In Nepal it was the blues, in Tanzania it was the lush greens and in Nicaragua the vibrant reds. I always try to give a sense of that colour in my images. In Morocco it was the warmth of the oranges and pinks in the architecture surrounding me, with the beautiful contrasts of blues in the clothing.

Arriving at 11am, I headed out to explore the centre of the hustle and bustle; the meandering corridors and shaded market hallways, as well as the areas away from the main square and tanneries, until my feet ached! I always try and find the REAL sense of a place rather than heading straight to where he tourists go, endeavouring to capture how the locals truly live. Authenticity is what I will always try and capture.

OK, so I know what you’re thinking. ‘What about the camera? After the FUJIFILM X-T2 and the X-H1, what else can Fujifilm give us?’ (I thought the same!) I have been so happy with my existing kit I wasn’t too sure what else they could add to the mix. However, with Fujifilm, they always manage to move forward with new innovations and extras, and once you’ve tried the latest advancements, you never want to be without them.

The X-T3 is certainly more responsive than the X-T2. The new sensor, a back-illuminated 26MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4 image processing engine, I am sure are the reason for this. It really is noticeable, especially when shooting the way I do, constantly following moving subjects and trying to anticipate the evolving scenes around me. I was shooting in some pretty low lighting conditions and the focussing was still as responsive.

The X-T3 has even more focusing points at 425, which, for me, is brilliant for dynamic composing. Now I always use the joystick to focus rather than focus and reframe. This is far more accurate and enables me to place my subject exactly where I want them within the frame.

The colours in the ETERNA Film Simulation mode are just gorgeous and provide a film like quality. The colours that you receive are more vibrant with minimal editing, meaning I can spending more time being a happy photographer out shooting beautiful portraits, and less time sitting in front of a lonely editing screen.

The feel of the camera is much the same as the X-T2. One difference I did feel was that the hand grip on the right of the camera was more ergonomic and fitted in the hand better. This is especially useful when the larger lenses are mounted; I tend to use the XF50-140mm lens as my go-to, so this did feel better.

The weight is the same which is a good thing. Travelling as much as I so, I try to catch cheaper flights and only take hand luggage, so even with all of my kit and 3 days’ worth of clothes I managed to pack everything in my trusty Billingham bag to carry on. I certainly couldn’t have done that before the X Series!

The trip was wonderful, if not a little challenging with the heat, the avoidance of willing subjects and a conservative timescale which was always going to be an issue. However, I managed to get what I needed.

I really do appreciate my life as a photographer and how lucky I am. It’s such a gift to be able to travel to some amazing places just because I’ve got a camera in my hand. And with the X-T3 it will now be even more exciting!


More from Saraya Cortaville

Website: www.sarayacortaville.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thestudio19

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sarayatravel


More about the FUJIFILM X-T3

The FUJIFILM X-T3 is the X Series’ evolution into the 4th generation, featuring a complete upgrade with the all-new back-illuminated 26MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4 image processing engine.

10 replies »

  1. Very beautiful images. It would indeed be wonderful to see a few more. Also, did you by any chance ask any of the locals Morrocans why they are so resistant to having their pictures taken? In many places people don’t mind at all. Just curious. All the best, Rick

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