X-Thusiast Featured Photographer – Stephen Vincent-Grace

We caught up with photographer Stephen Vincent-Grace this month to learn more about how to capture the beauty of the world, and find out what inspires him to continue to pursue photography as a hobby.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from?

 

My name is Stephen Vincent-Grace, although everyone knows me as SVG. I am originally from Adelaide but have lived in Italy, England and the U.S.A. and have now settled in Melbourne, where I am product manager for a creative online marketplace. Besides photography, I am a crazy soccer fan and love to travel with 37 countries ticked off my bucket list.

 

How did you develop an interest in photography using Fujifilm equipment?

 

My interest in Fujifilm developed when I was on a trip to New York a few years back. I had my DSLR gear and over a three-week period took it out twice due to the pain of carrying it around everywhere. Subsequently after that trip I didn’t take a photo for over a year. I knew then it was time to sell the DSLR and look for something else. The X-Pro2 had just come out and I needed a camera. I instantly fell in love with the rangefinder look and manual dials of the brand. I read reviews and I was sold on Fujifilm and have been in love with it ever since.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF16mmF1.4 R WR – 1.3 seconds – F5 – ISO 200

 

How would you describe your photography style and strategy?

 

Interesting question. I would say my style is still evolving; at the moment it’s about big iconic landscapes and cityscapes with lots of colours but I am also exploring something different from this. I am working on something surrounding the ACROS film simulation with not a landscape in sight. In regards to my strategy, so far it is to research places that inspire me and then plan to see them and share my take on them.

 

What inspires your photography?

 

I get inspired by the the Fujifilm X community, from official X photographers such as Elia Locardi and Jonas Rask (who are my idols) to fellow Fujifilm X enthusiasts. I see what they can create and it inspires me to know that we are all using the same tools and that I can hopefully create beautiful photos like everyone else. It’s nice to know there is a community out there that is passionate and positive.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 20 seconds – F10 – ISO 100

 

Where are your favourite places to take photos and do you prefer a certain type of light for photography?

 

I just love diverse and beautiful landscapes, so it has to be Iceland and New Zealand. They are a photographer’s paradise and they are small enough you can see so many different sites in a short period of time. If I am not wanting a landscape, then for the amazing skyline or cool street photos, it has to be New York City. For me, when it comes to light, it’s the tried-and-tested formula of sunrise and sunset. Sunrise is amazing as it’s hard to do, as you have to get up so early but that is why it is so rewarding because you get lovely, soft light and there are usually not many people around. I think the blue hour is magical too, especially at sunset.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 1 second – F11 – ISO 100

 

What is your favourite memory from a photography session?

 

My favourite memory is going to Aldeyjarfoss, Iceland. I went to Iceland for five days and hired a tiny campervan and tried to get a few shots in a small amount of time. The magic of Aldeyjarfoss was that I had to drive to a spot in the middle of nowhere, sleep the night at the bottom of a path that could only be accessed via four-wheel drive or on foot. The next morning I got up at 4am, walked 45 minutes with no maps, hoping I was going the right way. When I got there, it was so magical that I got emotional because of how beautiful it was and the adventure of getting there.

 

Can you tell us what’s your favourite Fujifilm camera and why?

 

My favourite camera is the one I own, the Fujifilm X-Pro2. I just love the look and feel of the camera. It can be used as a general purpose camera for travel and landscape or it can be the iconic rangefinder street camera. I probably shouldn’t admit this but it sits on my desk at home and sometimes I just look at it and admire the aesthetic of the camera or just pick it up for no reason.

 

Which Fujinon lens or lenses do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm X-Pro2 and why?

 

My current lens lineup starts with the XF35mmF2, which I use for general walk-around, weddings for friends and family and sometimes for landscapes if my XF10-24mmF4 is too wide. The next is the XF10-24mmF4, which I purely use for landscapes and cityscapes. I absolutely love this lens, although it would be even more amazing if it had weather sealing. The last lens I own is XF56mmF1.2, which I use for portraits and weddings for friends. I intend on getting the XF55-200mm as I need a telephoto for that extra reach on some of my travel adventures. I have also just seen the newly announced XF8-16mmF2.8 WR; if it lives up to expectations and isn’t crazy big then I might have to add that, too!

Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 25 seconds – F9 – ISO 100

 

What sort of workflow do you use in your photography? Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?

 

I shoot mostly RAW, I import the photos, just copying them over to my computer then use Photo Mechanic for the cull process. I then use Adobe LR and Nik Collection and a touch of Photoshop for sharpening and corrections if needed. I have just become a Capture One Beta tester, so I want to teach myself how to use this software as I have heard it handles the X-Trans raws a lot better than Adobe. I do use JPEG when I shoot in ACROS as I have read the JPEGs are tied so closely to the processor that there is a slight difference when coming straight out of camera.

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?

 

I don’t think I have specific tips as I feel settings really depend on the lighting conditions you are in or what style of photography you are doing. However, my general tips would be first and foremost read the manual of your camera inside out. I actually bought a tip book for the Fujifilm X-Pro2, which explained in detail some of the functions that helped me get the most of my camera and understand some of the settings and how to best set them. I also follow so many blogs and photography Twitter feeds and always find something new I didn’t know. Finally, just keep practicing and use the camera as much as you can.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 9 seconds – F10 – ISO 250

 

Do you have advice for new photographers or the next potential X-Thusiast?

 

Enjoy your Fuji camera, go out and shoot and love the photography journey you are on. It’s a journey that never has to end and can go anywhere you want to take it.

 

To see more of Stephen’s photography follow him on Instagram, PhotoDune or visit his website.

 

Are you interested in becoming our next featured X-Thusiast photographer? Check out our full X-Thusiast Gallery and submission details.

 

X-Thusiast Featured Photographer Grant Ashford

Street photographer Grant Ashford shares his unique photography methods and what inspires him to capture ordinary people doing everyday things. We caught up with Grant and learned about his experience with the X-Pro2.

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where are you from?

 

I live in Sydney but grew up in Darwin, Northern Territory. I became interested in photography when given a Kodak pocket Instamatic film camera for my 13th birthday. Many years later I took some shots of a dark, thunderous storm front rolling in off the sea and decided then I’d love to be a professional photographer.

 

I began submitting articles to some popular Australian magazines by photographing and interviewing some of the unique characters living in the territory. The stories often veered to the far end of poetic license to fit the magazine’s criteria — I spun some good old Aussie yarns, to be honest. But all of my articles were accepted, and it wasn’t long before editors from the U.K. and U.S. were calling to buy second publishing rights.

 

After working in the glamour-shot industry for ten years, I packed away my cameras and decided to get out of photography altogether.

 

A few years later I was in Tijuana being a tourist wandering the back streets and wound up in a dodgy area. Oblivious, I was snapping away with my SLR when a little lady came over to me and said, “Señor! Put that camera away. You will be robbed.” As I turned the corner, I saw an American tourist being chased by a gang of locals. I immediately tucked the camera under my shirt.

 

This place intrigued me, so I remained on the street and started shooting from the hip with the camera lens peeking out from under my shirt. When I processed the film, I loved the prints. I had captured the naturalness of people doing their everyday things without being aware they were being photographed. It felt like a spiritual awakening. I found something I loved, and I seemed to know where to point instinctively. Every corner I turned was a scene unfolding before me, and I was in street photographers’ paradise.

“Cant Stop Cool” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/200 second – F4 – ISO 1250

 

 

How did you develop an interest in photography using Fujifilm equipment?

 

Two years ago, I noticed a lot of Instagram street photographers were singing the praises of Fujifilm cameras and after a bit of research, I bought a Fujifilm X100T. I loved the feel and compactness of the rangefinder but felt a little constrained with the 23mm fixed lens. Luckily, the new Fujifilm X-Pro2 just came on the market, so I sold the X100T and bought the X-Pro2 and a zoom lens. I carry the camera everywhere now and absolutely love it.

 

 

 

How would you describe your photography style and strategy?

 

I like to photograph everyday people doing everyday things. However, I’m always on the lookout for funny or unusual juxtapositions people unwittingly place themselves in.

 

My technique is somewhat different. I hold the camera upside down with a wrist strap, and shoot one-handed from all different angles without looking in the viewfinder. I like to keep eye contact with the subject while I’m shooting. So I may be speaking with someone while getting very close and wide shots. They’re usually aware they’re being photographed but because I keep them engaged it stays unposed. Years of shooting like this enable me to know what I’m getting composure-wise. It keeps people at ease as they’re expecting me to look through the camera and say “cheese.” I don’t shoot hipshot much either these days. My technique is more like a gunslinger — grab the shot fast.

 

I walk all over the place searching for opportunities. The city’s like a theater brimming with wonderful sets and scenes and amazing actors and I’m like the inconspicuous scrap of newspaper scurrying on the breeze un-noticed through the crowd.

“Life at the Cross Roads” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/400 second – F14 – ISO 1000

 

What inspires your photography?

 

Always at the back of my mind, I’m thinking about chronicling our current fashions, trends, and technologies for future generations to see how we lived.

 

When I was starting out, I would spend hours at the library browsing books by photographers W. Eugene Smith and Robert Capa and many others. I dissected the photos that interested me, analyzing composure, lighting and mood. I particularly liked the intimacy of Eugene Smith’s “Country Doctor” photo essay.

“Selfie Help” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF18mmF2 R – 1/320 second – F5.6 – ISO 3200

 

 

Where are your favourite places to take photos and do you prefer a certain type of light?

 

Wherever there’s a crowd is where I want to be. I like old architecture and try to include that as background in portraits if possible; it gives a nice feel to an image. The CBD always has beautiful reflected light bouncing off the buildings.

“Smooth Operator” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF18mmF2 R – 1/210 second – F2.8 – ISO 1000

 

 

What is your favourite memory from a photography session?

 

I assisted legendary landscape photographer Peter Jarver on an expedition into the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia a couple of years before he died. Peter taught me so much about photography. The light was foremost to Peter, and there were many pre-dawn treks by torchlight into the canyons. He used a Horseman large-format 4×5 camera and taught me some very valuable techniques — such as simply keeping horizons level — that I see many budding landscape photographers fail to do.

“Time Never Waits” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF18mmF2 R – 1/210 second – F5 – ISO 1000

 

 

Can you tell us your favourite Fujifilm camera and why?

 

I can only speak on the Fujifilm X-Pro2, and it is a wonderful camera that goes everywhere with me. I love the old-school appearance, yet the technology inside is far from old. The quality of the images is excellent, and those Fujinon lenses are superb pieces of glass. I rarely use my other professional cameras anymore; the Fujifilm is the golden child.

 

 

 

Which Fujinon lens or lenses do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm X-Pro2 and why?

 

I’m using the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 lens all the time. It provides good range from the wide 16mm street work or 55mm portrait lens, and the fast F2.8 gathers light well in darker locations. I’ve heard good reviews on the Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 but haven’t used one yet. I think that will be the next lens I try.

“Chilled to the Bone”- Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF18mmF2 R – 1/220 second – F3.2 – ISO 1250

 

 

What sort of workflow do you use in your photography? Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?

 

I now use both Affinity Photo and Snapseed on the iPad Pro for my processing. I transfer JPEG files from the camera via Wi-Fi through the Fujifilm Camera Remote App. I make a few tweaks in Affinity, then upload to Instagram and Facebook. For safekeeping, I back up images to an external hard drive.

 

 

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?

 

When I’m shooting on the street I like to make things easy for myself and with the X-Pro2 I can -the camera does all the work. I use AWB and set aperture, shutter and focus all to auto and I make manual adjustments with ISO dial. The daylight between buildings is quite balanced and the camera performs well in this environment. Any tricky lighting situations I switch to manual, and I’m not shy to push the ISO toward 10,000+.

 

I was lucky to begin photography before digital because the cost of film and processing made me think about what I was doing and to make each shot count you had to get things right. That’s why I don’t feel guilty using the camera on full auto — it’s a luxury I allow myself.

 

 

Do you have advice for new photographers or the next potential X-Thusiast?

 

I’m often asked by many photographers how I get so close to my subjects. The simple answer you’ve got to be bold, be alert and be ready. It’s usually fear of rejection that stops us from approaching someone, but to be good at anything you have to get out of the comfort zone. It won’t stay uncomfortable for long. I try to strike up a conversation; people generally like to talk about themselves.

 

To see more photography from Stephen follow him on Instagram, Facebook or Google+

 

Are you interested in becoming our next featured X-Thusiast photographer? Check out our full X-Thusiast Gallery and submission details.

 

 

X-Thusiast Featured Photographer Tafa Ali

The latest featured photographer in our X-Thusiast program is Tafa Ali. Tafa was born in Indonesia, and lives in Sydney. Keen on fashion photography, Tafa shoots at runways and enjoys attending photo exhibits at art galleries.

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from?

 

My name is Tafa Ali. I was born in Indonesia and I am currently living in Sydney, Australia. I’m a freelance photographer and I work at Spectrum Camera House.

tafa

Tafa Ali

I was focused on music and drawing when suddenly photography had a massive impact on me after I picked up a film camera in high school. It has now been six years that I have been shooting and have exhibited my work overseas and in Australia.

 

blue-and-gold-xpro2-56mm-apd

“Blue and Gold” X-Pro2 + XF56mmF1.2 R APD

 

How did you develop an interest in photography using Fujifilm equipment?

 

I was a Canon shooter before, but with the new mirrorless technology and the amount of gigs I was going to be doing, Fujifilm was a better choice for me. When first picking up a X100S from a mate, I loved how sharp my photos were and how easy it was to change the settings in manual mode using the dials. It reminded me of when I was shooting film. This simplicity made me want to purchase only Fujifilm cameras going forward.

 

How would you describe your photography style and strategy?

 

My photography style is focused on fashion, portrait and event photography. Mostly I shoot with natural light or a direct flash for my portrait and fashion shots. Keep it simple and clean, unless the client wants a different setup.

oscar-de-la-renta-backstage-x100t

“Oscar de la Renta Backstage” X100T

 

What inspires your photography?

People – everyone has their own unique characters. I love capturing their personality.

 

Where are your favourite places to take photos and do you prefer a certain type of light to photograph in?

 

I don’t have any favourite places to shoot because I mostly shoot indoor. When I shoot outdoor, I like to shoot on random streets in the city or Newtown and mainly beaches, too. I like shooting in the shade because the light is very soft and diffused, which really helps to bring out nice skin tones.

botanic-garden-x-pro2-56mm-apd

“Botanic Garden” X-Pro2 +XF56mmF1.2 R APD

 

What is your favourite memory from a photography session?

 

When I was shooting one of my favourite musicians, Steve Vai!

 

 

Can you tell us what is your favourite Fujifilm camera and why?

 

I used to have X-T1, but mostly I use the X100T because of the hybrid viewfinder. Now I prefer to use the X-Pro2 as my favourite camera to use. It has a much better autofocus – especially after the firmware update. And it’s super amazing in low light! I was photographing fireworks on New Year’s Eve at ISO 8000 and I barely saw any noise. Also, I can use all my vintage lenses from my film cameras on X-Pro2 with my adapters.

 

Which Fujinon lens or lenses do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm camera and why?

 

I shoot 99% portrait and fashion, so the Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R APD is my favourite. It’s a super sharp lens at F1.2 and I just love the colours and the really nice soft bokeh!

sunday-morning-in-bronte-x100t

“Sunday Morning in Bronte” X100T

 

What sort of workflow do you use in your photography? Do you shoot in RAW or Jpeg?

 

Mostly I edit my photos using Lightroom and Photoshop. I shoot RAW and Jpeg on each individual SD card. For mobile editing, I can transfer and edit straight on my phone, for this I use snapseed and VSCO.

 

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?

 

Before I start shooting, I need to have a concept first. Planning ahead saves so much time on location later. I always set my ISO first, and then aperture; the last thing is shutter speed. If I need to change the exposure I just change the shutter speed dial. I always use auto white balance except when I shoot fashion runways. This is when you have to adjust your own white balance (saves a lot of editing time) because the lighting keeps changing every second.

newtown-chill-x100t

“Newtown Chill” X100T

 

Do you have advice for new photographers or the next potential X-Thusiast?

 

Watch a lot of tutorials online but don’t spend too much time in front of your computer. Go outside and shoot, hang out and make friends with people who love photography too.

 

Attend photographic exhibitions, go to art galleries and join photo walks. I might see you there at the next People with Cameras by Fujifilm. Looking forward to the next one. 🙂

 

Are you interested in becoming our next featured X-Thusiast photographer? Check out our full X-Thusiast Gallery and submission details.