I’ve been a stand-up comedian for over twenty four years and I am also a photographer; a clowntographer! Usually I shoot with the FUJIFILM X-Pro2, but I recently took the medium format GFX 50S to the Edinburgh Fringe festival. This is not going to be a technical blog with numbers and facts but more of a touchy, feely one about how I got on.
As a stand-up comedian, I have been lucky enough to have performed all over the world including South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bosnia, Holland, Denmark, The Falkland Islands and Southend on Sea, performing on tours with Frank Skinner, Craig Charles and Omid Djalili.
Over the years, I have carried a camera around with me pretty much everywhere I have gigged, but I would say I became more of a professional snapper in the last 7 years or so. I started my Fujifilm journey with the X-Pro1, then the X-T1, then the X-Pro2. I have acquired many lenses over the years that twist on to these magnificent beasts. The X Series have been my cameras of choice due to their great sensors, marvellous fast prime lenses, both great in low light situations, and partly due to their lush (I’m not from Bristol) retro design.
My style is candid shots backstage, and weird and wonderful angle shots front of stage (I tend to crouch in corners until my knees are crying out in pain).
These pictures are 4 of some the many included in my touring exhibition, Clicking Comedians, which went up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the month of August in 2018, as did I, with the mighty medium format FUJIFILM GFX 50S.
The shows that I was photographing were an hour an half in duration every day with a mixture of acts; comedians, singers, bands, theatre, jugglers, magicians each doing a 10 minute snippet of their show – it was bloody great – The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in a nutshell!
I would tend to sit/stand at the back of the theatre with an array of lenses but after a few days opted to just use the GF110mmF2. It also took me a day or two to realise that I had to set the shutter speed higher than I normally would with the X-Pro2. Anything lower than 1/125 and you were risking a bit of blur (the image not the band).
The GFX is quite a bit heavier than my X-Pro2, especially with the chunky lenses, so lugging it around hilly Edinburgh was pretty tough and rough on the shoulder. Luckily, more often than not, I’d have a wheelie case with me. But, the thing about the GFX 50S that I was totally bawled over by was the size and clarity of the image. The fact that you could crop to your heart’s content and still have such a clean photo was something I had never seen before on any of the cameras I have thus far used.
The only downside I found in shooting live action with the GFX was its speed – it was slower compared to the X-Pros. Sometimes I had to guess what was going to happen next on stage to get the shot I wanted and, on occasions, I had to slightly hope for the best when shooting. But to be honest I quite liked that challenge. And I’m pretty sure Fujifilm never set out with live action photography in mind for the GFX. Professionally I’m not too sure that just having the GFX to hand is the route you would want to go down for such photography. A back-up X-Pro or X-T would be advisable to shoot the juggler or acrobatic style acts.
Out on the street the GFX really came into its own. The clarity, the quality, the bokeh… the everything!
I’ll leave you with more images, all shot up in Edinburgh during the festival on the FUJIFILM GFX.
And finally, here’s the thing… straight from the gut I really, really loved holding and shooting with the GFX. It just felt so good. I felt powerful with the GFX, a professional, a legend.
‘How can I? Light up the darkness’ I am photographer.
More from Steve Best
Joker Face, published 2017: www.stevebest.com/joker_face
Clicking Comedians Exhibition: www.stevebest.com/clickingcomedians