We hear more and more stories of photographers making the Fujifilm X Series their go-to kit for portraiture. The series is ideal for this style. The lightweight equipment allows portrait photographers to nimbly adjust around their subjects and the vivid colour processing makes subjects look stunning.
Get the most out of portraits with an X Series kit by following these tips.
Fill your frame with complementary colours.
You chose your X Series likely in part for its vibrant colour processing. So make colours pop perfectly in your portraits as you play with contrast and hue. To the extent, you control attire and scene for your shoot, find colours that complement each other and especially those in your subject’s eyes and skin. If necessary, look at a colour wheel to strategize your fashion and setting.
Not all portrait photography requires studio space or time slots for your subjects. Get to the streets and capture portraits from the urban bustle. For this style of portraiture, use the XF23mmF1.4 R, which has a 63-degree angle of view, or a similar wide-angle lens to capture both your subject and your scene in detail.
On streets, at events or in studio, permit your subjects to move freely, and then follow them for candid portraits. Make sure to get them in the act of something viewers can understand, and look for moments when their hand position adds emotion. For these fleeting moments, you want a lens with a quick autofocus sensor. Go with the XF23mmF1.4 R mentioned above or the XF35mmF2 R WR.
One way to make your subject a focal point in a portrait is to use bokeh, the blurring of out-of-focus regions. To get this effect, portrait photographers favour lenses with wide maximum apertures. While the XF23mmF1.4 R and the XF35mmF2 R WR both fit this category, the XF56mmF1.2 R is the optimum Fujinon lens to achieve sharp bokeh.
You can add a creative layer to your composition by placing your subject behind a framing foreground image. Tree branches, plant leaves, window frames and another person’s shoulder are just some of your options for framing. This style of composition works well with the bokeh effect, as you can accentuate the spatial gap between your subject and the framing device.
How time flies! It has been a fair few months since the tentative decision was made to start the journey to being a professional photographer. As it seems to have been with a lot of people, 2016 was not a good year, so development of the new business was more or less put on hold while efforts, energies and emotions were channeled in more pressing directions. That’s not to say there weren’t opportunities for photography, and it was at times an excellent way to escape some harsh realities.
“Never go into a shoot with kit you don’t know inside out: it’s a recipe for disaster”. My ancient photography tutor’s voice from way back rang clear as our flight circled Belfast, descending through the mist to land. The only two people onboard choosing to wear shorts and running gear, on an early December Irish morning (it’s not known for warm winters…) wasn’t the only questionable decision that day: the X-Pro2 and lenses, wrapped in spare running socks & thermals between my feet, that had arrived by courier the afternoon before were completely alien to me.Continue reading On the run with the FUJIFILM X-Pro2
I am a Norwegian extreme sports photographer and a Fujifilm X-Photographer. I was lucky to get a call from Fujifilm in the beginning of 2016 regarding switching to Fujifilm. I got to try their gear and immediately fell in love.
I was curious of how the equipment would work for my use but as it turned out it worked great.
When I started the transition to Fujifilm, I brought my full frame setup with me just in case the Fujifilm system didn’t perform the way I needed it to. Lets just say that the full frame system quickly found a shelf in my office.
Small and lightweight:
One of the first and very important things I noticed when switching from full frame to the mirrorless system was weight. That is a considerable change and a massive advantage, when hiking, not only in the back country but also in ski resorts. When I am shooting in a resort for example, I usually ride snowboard with the camera in my hand, it goes without saying that I need a camera that is durable and can withstand rough treatment, and I really feel that has been the case with both the X-Pro2 and the X-T2.
I do most of my work in harsh conditions around the world, but Norway is usually the biggest challenge, with both snow and humid weather. It really puts the equipment to the test. I was struggling a bit, with my previous setup, with moisture in my lenses, and they would fog up when I was shooting in sunlight, but I have not had any problems with that after switching, which has been great for me. That is mostly thanks to the WR lenses that Fujifilm are producing.
Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
Together with being lightweight, the EVF is a huge change when switching from a standard full frame camera to a mirrorless camera. It took me two days to fully adjust, but once I did, I have never looked back.
On sunny days up the mountains with snow all around, using the screen to check focus, details, or just look at your picture used to be a big challenge because of all the ambient light. But now I just look though the EVF, browse my photos, check details, sharpness exposure, just to name a few, and all that without ambient light spilling on to the screen.
The EVF also gives you a live exposure, which means that you see the final result with the settings you have chosen on the camera. That has made me a better photographer. I don’t shoot over or underexposed files any more. When a cloud covers the sun for only a brief second I am adjusting to get the perfect exposure, because I can see the smallest change. That is also a serious advantage when working with snow, which can so easy be over exposed.
Sometimes I shoot sequences. I do that to show a trick, or a big jump. When you are shooting a high-speed trick you need a quick shutter. That is exactly what the X-T2 has to offer. When you use the camera without the grip it produces 8 fps, but when you put the grip on, and turn on the boost button, you get 14 fps. Which is ridiculously fast!
In my line of work I sometimes just put one or two lenses in my jacket pocket and ride with the camera in my hand. That is why I am very dependent of flexible zoom lengths. So the three mostly used camera lenses I have are the XF50-140mm, XF16-55mm and the XF10-24mm. Those three I rely on with most of my field shooting but I do love to play around with prime lenses and I do it more and more. I just love the XF35mm for portraits and lifestyle. I bring it with me everywhere I travel.
You know, when you are holding a Fujifilm camera. You just want to go out and play with it. I could definitely recognize that when I picked up my first Fujifilm – the X-T1. I fell in love with the way Fujifilm makes their cameras. Shutter, ISO, Aperture, all on the outside. It is the feeling of crafting a picture with you own hands, and it looks beautiful.
I am really looking forward to a full season of shooting with both the X-Pro2 and the X-T2. And the old bulky and heavy full frame setup is out for sale.
I am not saying that you have to go and buy a Fujifilm camera, but I can strongly recommend everyone considering a new camera to have a serious look at the Fujifilm X-series.
I first dabbled with Fujifilm WAY back in 2003 while working on a cruise ship. In an all-film world, we were the first team to go digital with the Fujifilm S2 Pro, and I was really impressed with the quality, so much so, that when I started shooting weddings, I brought an S3 and for the first few years, this was the main camera I used at all of my weddings, but then I went full-frame and moved over to Nikon, and stayed there until the spring of 2016, and the arrival of the X-Pro2.
I’d been lugging around my D4s’ and a handful of prime lenses at weddings for a few years, and it was doing my back no good at all, but it wasn’t until I booked a wedding in the United States that I looked at changing my equipment. “Why change your entire wedding set-up mid way through a season for just one wedding” I hear you shout. Well, the Continue reading Why I switched BACK to the Fujifilm system
At Christmas it’s almost compulsory to take photographs and when you add a newborn baby into the equation it’s the perfect opportunity to create something extra special.
Whether you’re a fan of full-on Christmas decor, or prefer just a subtle nod to the season I hope this fills you with hints, tips and a sprinkle of festive inspiration.
If you are new to photographing babies you can keep it simple and natural, have baby lying on the back and photograph them awake and relaxed. Newborn babies can’t focus their eyes well, so I wait for them to stare into the distance and then move my camera into their line of sight, it can take a bit of patience but is usually worth it.
For this shot, I dressed the baby in a soft white romper and a berry headband which sets the season without needing a santa hat.
Another simple image to capture is baby toes, they can be awake or asleep for this, though for wrigglers I’m grateful for the fast focusing of the X-T2. In the first shot you can see the out of focus fairy lights which add an interest to the composition, and for the second shot I used a berry coloured wrap to create a warm festive feel. In the second shot I was actually gently holding the baby’s toes in place underneath the fabric to keep them at the angle I wanted. The tilt screen on the X-T2 was handy here as I could both hold her feet and shoot one handed comfortably.
Overhead shots are also easy shots to get whilst keeping baby safely lying down on fabric. The wreath I used is mainly fabric so is quite soft and not prickly, and I padded the middle out with a furry cushion cover so that she was well supported at all times.
If a baby isn’t the most settled then I will swaddle them with a wrap so they feel secure, and more often than not they fall asleep when wrapped. For all these shots I stand over the baby, using a camera strap, and then use live view on the tilt screen of my X-T2 to compose the image.
This shot is a more typical newborn baby pose, but using a seasonal coloured wrap keeps the image simple whilst adding a slight festive touch.
Christmas is a great excuse to pull out some of my favourite props too, so here are a few where I’ve tried to recreate some of the magic of the holiday. All of these images were taken with a spotter, which means I had someone on hand (usually a parent) to stay very close to the baby with the sole purpose of holding them if they start to move or roll. Spotters are either just outside the frame but still within reach of the baby, or I edit them out in Photoshop.
To make it a bit more interesting I wanted to include some lights within these set-ups too, one having a candle lit effect lantern and the other incorporating some fairly lights. Each of these meant I had to work out the best way to capture the lights whilst not overpowering them with flash. I needed to shoot fairly wide open to be able to record as much of the ambient light as possible, yet I still needed to light the subject too with my flash. I had the ISO at 100 (or Low) and my aperture at 2.8 on the 16-55mm, if I shot at 1/250s I overpowered the fairly lights and you couldn’t really see any light from them at all, when I slowed down to 1/125s they were visible but quite small and hard. I couldn’t shoot any wider unless I swapped lenses, so the next option was to reduce the shutter speed further. As my baby model was asleep, as long as I held the camera steady, I was able to shoot at 1/15s which enabled the flash to still perfectly light my model without overpowering the ambient so I captured the nice effect of the lights too. Again using the tilt screen was invaluable as I could sit down and hold the camera steady without having to lie on the floor to see.
With the lantern shot the candlelight wasn’t giving any spread at all as it was just so low powered, so I photoshopped the glow in afterwards. I thought including both images will show you the different ways of achieving the same kind of end result. Where possible I do prefer to get it right in camera, but I’m not opposed to editing small things if it helps create the right feel either.
And finally a slight twist on a more advanced newborn pose known as The Potato Sack, I wanted to give a bit of a snowman feel so added a hat and then in photoshop I added some snow, just for the fun of it. This pose is usually done with baby being supported and then the hand edited out afterwards.
All images were shot with the X-T2 and lit with a single Elinchrom d-lite1 and a 1m² softbox. I almost always position the light so that it flows down the baby’s face to give either a butterfly shadow under their nose or a loop shadow at the side of their nose.
And finally I few tips for you to help get your newborn model to sleep:
1. Heat – A toasty warm room and a fan heater near baby, I find it’s the warm breeze that helps settle them 2. Milk – A ‘milky drunk’ baby, I always ensure they have a full feed before we start so they are nice and full 3. White noise – Background noise helps send most babies to sleep and masks any noise you might make whilst working 4. Blankets – I use a blanket from home to hold them in whilst getting them to sleep as it smells familiar to them 5. Dummy – I always ask if they have one at all, you can pose the baby with their dummy and then just remove it for the individual shots 6. Patience – sometimes it takes a while for them to drop off to sleep but having all the above in place can make it much easier.
I hope you all have a great Christmas and I’d love to hear how you get on with your festive baby photographs!
Think about it, it’s your dream job. You’re a Liverpool season ticket holder and supporter and as a professional photographer you are asked if you’re interested in photographing the portraits of a number of former and famous Liverpool FC captains for an upcoming book.
Of course I jumped at the chance!
My brief was pretty simple, make all the captains look good, but the harder part of the brief was to make all the pictures look like they had been shot in the same session at the same time ……. Of course this would mean shooting on location in ten different locations!
The first captain on our list was perhaps the hardest logistically to set up as when we arrived at Ron Yates’ home there was simply nowhere to set up my studio and Ron’s wife was not too pleased at the thought of moving everything around in her living room!
But we soon persuaded her that it was ok to shoot with a simple one-light set up and so photographed Ron on his sofa right there in the front room.
“One of the great advantages of shooting with my Fujifilm X-T1 camera system is that the camera is not overwhelming in size and this makes it easier to communicate with your client.”
I was not given a lot of time to take Ron’s portrait as he sadly suffers with Alzheimer’s so I needed to work quite quickly. This meant going for my trusty XF16-55mm f2.8 lens. This lens is amazing at times like these – it’s versatile in focal length from wide angle to zoom, sharp and very fast to focus.
From here I worked quickly, taking as many different portraits as I could in as short amount of time possible.
Over the next few captains that I photographed I was given more time and space to get what I had in mind for the book.
One location I was given was to shoot in was Jamie Redknapp’s garage at his home! It was a big space to set all my studio backdrop and lights in, plus I received refreshments from Jamie’s lovely wife Louise!
Also having the luxury of more time and a bigger working space is that I got to use my different Fujifilm prime lenses. And let’s not forget that with each different portrait sitting you have to come up with a variety of posed shots, I tend to shoot a full length sitting down shot, a ¾ length standing up shot and then a selection of close-up headshots. The lenses I use in my shoots are the XF16-55mm f2.8, XF23mm f1.4 and my XF56mm f1.2.
“I really love the 56mm as it’s pin sharp, fast to focus and gets a great headshot in a limited space.”
And the locations where quite varied too – from conference suites in Southampton Airport (amazing what access you can get in these places dropping Graeme Souness’ name) to removing furniture from Ronnie Whelan’s dining room so I could set my studio in there (Massive table and chairs out!).
There was also the time aspect to all this as each Captain was giving their time for free, so I was very conscious that my photoshoots didn’t drag on.
In my experience with these types of shoot I’ve come to know and trust the equipment that I use. From my portable studio set up to my Fujifilm camera and lenses, I know I’ll get great results each time.
One of the most common questions I get asked is which Captain was the most difficult to shoot.
It’s an easy answer really – Steven Gerrard.
On the day of the shoot Steven was very pushed for time as he had a big appointment in Milton Keynes for Adidas. To compound matters further the interview for the book ran over as well…… So in the end I was given just 60 seconds to get as many portraits out of the shoot as possible.
Lucky I had just enough time to set my studio up and was ready as he walked in. I used my Fujifilm X-T1 camera alongside my XF16-55mm lens to create the shot.
As I said before, in times like these you need equipment you can trust and that will simply get you a great result.
Rachel Megawhat is a British photographer based in London. Having trained as a photo-assistant Rachel has worked both as a Fine art Photographer, and commercially focusing on Fashion, News and Portraits. Her work has been published in countless newspapers, magazines and books, both in the UK and Worldwide, including The Sunday Times, Financial Times, Guardian and The Sun
I’ve had the FUJIFILM X-Pro2 on loan for 2 weeks, along with the FUJIFILM XF50-140mmF2.8 and it’s been a real pleasure (and no, I don’t actually want to return it!). Normally I work with an X-T1 as my main camera and I still have my X-E1 as a back up so that’s what I am comparing with.
“I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised.”
One of the main differences is the dual function viewfinder, at first, I found it a little confusing and found myself automatically using the digital finder, but I realise it has its uses, especially with the longer 400mm lens. The ability to switch between the two is extremely helpful.
Without a doubt my favourite feature is the focus stick / lever. I quickly became so used to it that I was searching for it on my X-T1. This is such a user friendly design, perfect for fast shooting conditions.
The design aesthetic of this camera also really attracts the attention of photographers, I’ve had more people come over and ask what I’m shooting with than a year of using the X-T1!
The 2 card slots is also a major plus. I often shoot jpeg only as much of my work is online and the speed of the edit and distribution is vital, but the option to have separate cards with raw and jpeg makes it a brilliant piece of logic that works well for me. I can still have the speed of a card with only jpegs to upload, but backed up with raw.
The only thing that I did find a little fiddly was the ISO & shutter speed being on a combined dial, as there were times when I wanted to change the ISO but I accidentally moved the shutter speed instead. In most shooting conditions this isn’t an issue but when you need to change quickly back and forth it can be trickier.
I was worried with August being a slow news month that I might not have much interesting content for this review but I have used the X-Pro2 to photograph our two most marmite politicians (people either love them or hate them), a trip to the zoo and a studio shoot with a couple of fashion models.
I covered one of the many rallies that Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party has been attending up and down the country. This one was in Kilburn and this shows the range of the 50-140mm lens, obviously 50mm on the left and a slight crop of a 140mm image on the right. As you can see I couldn’t resist experimenting with the distortion through the perspex podium.
The next morning I met with Nigel Farage. Some people will be aware that he recently grew a moustache so I had planned a very simple black and white shot hoping to feature that but unfortunately for me he had shaved. I used the Acros settings for this shoot. Here is a screen shot from Breitbart London.
As I would have gone for something more creative had I not been hoping the moustache would be the main feature, here is an image from the shoot that I played around with just because.
I also managed to do a small studio shoot with a couple of young fashion models, Hazel Fuller and Nathan Taylor.
My absolute favourite way to shoot is very low-light studio work and the Fuji cameras are a joy to work with in these conditions. In fact, it was shooting this that I decided that I have to own the 50-140mm lens asap.
I have also done a few daylight shoots, covered a few protests including two burkini protests in as many days. This man decided he needed a selfie of his ‘beach ready body’ in front of the burkini protest. I’m not sure what it all means.
As well as looking and feeling very stylish the X-Pro2 proved to be a good workhorse of a camera, I think with longer to play with it I would get more out of its settings. I had assumed I would move from the X-T1 straight to the X-T2 but now I need to think seriously about whether or not the X-Pro2 is a better option for me. I guess I need to get my hands on the X-T2 to decide. Fun decisions to be making either way.