X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Kevin Mullins

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?

I’m an exiled Welshman living in North Wiltshire where I live with my lovely wife, two lovely children, not so lovely naughty whippet. I shoot social documentary photography, mostly weddings, and I shoot in a candid manor which means I don’t stage or set up any of the photographs.

My photography journey has been quite quick and up until 2008/9 I was running my own online marketing business in London. A change in circumstance saw us “move to the country” where we settled down and I decided a complete change of career was needed. I decided to become a wedding photographer.

In a not very short period of time I understood that my ideal day shooting a wedding was in a totally candid way. And as such, that is how my style has evolved and I now shoot documentary weddings all over the UK, Europe and even America. I love the humanity element of weddings and I simply shoot people, being people.

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Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

In short, I was very happy with my old DSLR system but I always felt there was something missing. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I picked up an X100 in 2011. I knew instantly that this was the future for me (though it would take a couple more camera models before I made the switch entirely).

Using the smaller CSC cameras simply allows me to get more intimate images, without affecting the integrity of the moment.

I’m not a “spray and pray” type photographer. Most of my images are considered moments, rather than running around shooting thousands of images and hoping for the best, the X-Series with their glorious viewfinders and beautifully designed chasis allow me to watch, then shoot.

I believe a good documentary photographer should be a better observer, than shooter. The X-Series are so much lighter and they allow me to get into moments and shoot weddings from the inside out, rather than the outside in as was the case and only option with my big DSLR system.

I sold all my DSLR gear and bought a new car. With the change I invested in my X-Series and have never looked back.

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Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

I like to look for the extraordinary, in a world of ordinariness. I see wedding photography just like street photography. A good street photograph has a story and has a reason to exist. I want all my images to involve emotion, story and ultimately some kind of humanity element. I don’t want my pictures to be simply boring snapshots wherever possible and so my philosophy is to shoot images that make me smile, and make the client smile too.

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Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

I was never “into” photography, but I remember seeing the images of Jane Bown, Don McCullin etc in the Sunday supplements as I grew up. I didn’t have an appreciation of the technique of photography then but I certainly loved looking at the photographs.

In more recent times, from a wedding and street photography point of view I’m in awe of the work and philosophy of Mel Digiacomo.

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Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

From a technical point of view I’d like to say things like; consider the background, check the composition of your images, ensure the light is good.

All these things are important but my most important tip I think is this: try not to take boring photos. Whether you are shooting on the streets, shooting weddings or shooting your kids at home – always try and give the image a reason to exist. A snapshot of someone sat in a café having a drink has a lot less impact than if perhaps something else is happening in the background, or there is a juxtaposition in the image.

I find setting my cameras up to use back button focusing and zone focusing for low light works amazingly well. If I’m shooting quickly, I will often use aperture priority or even “P” mode. Remember I’m the observer and the camera is the technology! Explore the glorious JPEGs that the X-Series produce too. I think if you ignore these, you are missing out on such an exciting part of photography – having the results out of the can without having to process them? Imagine that…..

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What’s next for you?

I’m shooting more and more overseas weddings and I’ll be exploring that a bit more. My workshops and speaking see me travel too which is great but one thing I want to explore more is social documentary. I want to capture life in all its aspects and I’ll be perusing that more over the coming years.

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Contact info

Main website
The Owl
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

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Live tutorial: Portrait photography with Bert Stephani

X-Photographer Bert Stephani shares his own hints and tips to shooting Portrait photography in this live talk from ‘The Photography Show‘ UK.

Want more?..

For more of Bert’s work, please see the links below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bertstephani?_rdr

Twitter: @bertstephani

Website: http://bertstephani.com

 

Master the X-Series – Off-camera flash

Here you will learn how to shoot creative flash-lit portraits in four easy steps

All the shots taken in this tutorial were shot with a Fujifilm X-T1, 56mm APD lens and EF-42 flashgun. In normal use, when the EF-42 is mounted on the camera’s hotshoe there is communication between the two. As soon as the flashgun is separated from the camera, that link is severed. To get around this problem, you’ll need a remote trigger, of which a variety of third-party options is available. Triggers come in pairs and function wirelessly over many metres. The transmitter unit is fixed into the camera’s hotshoe while the receiver is connected to the flashgun. When you’re working with the flash off camera, you should use the manual (M) exposure mode so you have total control of the camera’s shutter speed. Correct flash operation is only possible at the camera’s flash synchronisation speed or slower. The Fujifilm X-T1 synchronises with flash at a shutter speed of 1/180sec or slower – the 1/180sec speed on the shutter speed is marked with an X on the shutter speed dial to indicate this. Use a shutter speed faster than this and the flash will be incorrectly exposed.

STEP 1

With this portrait, camera settings of 1/110sec at f/2.5 were needed to reveal the subject’s face using ambient (available) light only. Going to the other extreme we took a meter reading with the camera from the sky – this was 1/180sec at f/3.6 – and took another shot (below). This totally silhouetted our subject, but recorded the sky accurately. For a dramatic portrait we need to stick with this exposure and then add some flash to reveal the subject.

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Available light
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Exposure set for the sky

STEP 2

The flashgun can be held in position by an assistant, or placed on a tripod or lighting stand, then you’ll need to vary the position and power output to get the best result. To prove why taking the flash off camera is a good idea, we started by taking a straight flash shot with the EF-42 slipped into the camera’s hotshoe and the TTL setting. Our subject is correctly exposed, but the light is harsh, the background is too dark and the sky lacks depth and colour.

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Flash on-camera

STEP 3

With the flashgun attached to the wireless triggers, it has to be used manually with a power output to suit the flash-to-subject distance. With experience you’ll be able to estimate the required output, but initially you can shoot and review the result before fine-tuning the flash output. Keeping the same exposure for the sky from Step 1, we started at 1/16 output (main image) but the result was too weak. Changing the output to 1/2 power (inset) gives too much light, resulting in overexposure of our subject’s face.

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Flash too powerful

STEP 4

Adjusting the flash output again to 1/4 power produces the right result with our subject correctly lit, some detail in the background and colour and depth in the sky. Simple!

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6 Great tips for better portraits

Winter isn’t just about shooting landscapes, you can grab some great portraits too – just follow our advice for better people pictures

Good portraits don’t just happen, some planning is essential. Preparation can be a constant process; bookmark websites with images that inspire you, tear out pictures from magazines, grab shots of billboards that appeal. That way you’ll have some ideas to draw on.

When it comes to taking the pictures, share those ideas with your subject; see the shoot as a collaboration. Keep talking to them as you take pictures and show them the images on the rear LCD – silence isn’t golden in portraiture.

At this time of year, you may want to shoot indoors or out. Outdoors on a cloudy day, the light is beautifully soft, which is very flattering for portraits. Use a reflector to even the light up as much as possible and consider changing the white-balance to the Shade preset to warm up the scene. Sunny conditions work well too, but make sure you use a lens hood to avoid excessive flare and ghosting. Indoors, position your subject near a window for an available light shot or use flash lighting for greater control.

No matter where you work, keep the shooting time short, especially if you’re photographing kids.

Sharp focus on the eyes is crucial otherwise the portrait will lack impact, but don’t feel your subject has to look straight at the camera. Be bold with your compositions – you don’t have to take everything with the camera held upright.

When it comes to lenses, anything goes! The XF50-140mm and XF56mm APD lenses are obvious options, thanks to their excellent bokeh effects, but wide-angle optics are worth consideration, especially if you want to include more of the surroundings. Need some portrait ideas? Try these…

Open wide

Portraits aren’t all about cropping in close, they can also work well when shooting wide to include the surroundings. Use this approach when you want to tell more of a story with your subject, or simply want to make the most of a fantastic location you’ve found.

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Go for bokeh

Fujifilm’s new XF56mm F1.2 APD lens is perfect for portraits. Position your subject in front of a background with bright highlights, then use the maximum aperture for stunning bokeh effects. This approach also works well with other fast-aperture prime XF lenses.

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Keep it simple

If you’re shooting in a studio, don’t try to use too many lights. One main light and a reflector is all you need to get some great shots, especially if the light has an umbrella or softbox to diffuse the light for a more flattering result.

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Form a group

Make portraiture more social by shooting a group. Avoid lining everyone up in one row; try having some people sitting with others standing behind, or look for a slope or steps for compositional variety. Silhouettes like this work well, too. Take plenty of shots – you’ll be surprised how many group shots can be spoiled by one person blinking!

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Creative candids

Getting your subject engrossed in an indoor or outdoor activity gives you the perfect chance to shoot natural candids. Set your X-series camera to continuous AF and continuous shooting so you can keep up with any movement, then fire away. Choosing one of the Auto ISO options will increase your hit rate of sharp shots.

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Add some colour

When the weather is colder, natural colours are more muted. Give your portraits a colour boost by adding in bright accessories such as a hat, scarf, coat or gloves. Then select the Velvia Film Simulation mode to give them extra saturation.

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X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Jefferson Pires

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

downloadMy name is Jefferson Pires and I am the founder of a menswear and lifestyle online magazine called SchoolBoyCouture. I got into photography due to multiple reasons. When I was younger I used to always carry a sketchbook and sketch whatever I saw, capture whatever inspired me. Photography was a natural progression of that. Also when I first started my site, I wanted to create original content that stood out from competitors. It is then that I started taking photography seriously. The first proper camera that I got was a Fujifilm X100 when it was first released.

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Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

I was drawn towards Fujifilm because of the unique form factor and the emphasis on physical dials. It’s great to see how much the ‘X’ camera lineage has progressed since the X100 and even how much the X100 has changed due to regular software updates. I’ve still got mine and it holds a special place in my heart, even after all these years.

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Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

A lot of people tend to get caught up in the technicalities of things. ‘Pixel Peeping’ and ‘Spec Wars’ are all a waste of time in my opinion. There is always going to be something better around the horizon and the camera that you spent hours contemplating and comparing online is going to be obsolete before you know it. What’s important is that you buy something that works for ‘you’ and that makes you want to go out and shoot. That’s exactly how I work. Think of the bigger picture.

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Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

I spend a lot of time on social media platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest and even the VSCO Grid. I think there’s some fantastic inspiration that can be had from those channels. But the simplest thing you can do is put your smartphone away when you are travelling and look around you. There’s inspiration to be had everyday, right in front of your eyes.

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Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

Be yourself. Try not to copy someone else’s style of photography because that is unique to them. Instead try different things and you will eventually find your niche. And, like I mentioned earlier, you don’t need the latest gear to take the best pictures. It’s all in the eye. Capture what you see!

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What’s next for you?

I’ve recently launched The SBc Journal on my site with its own dedicated Instagram account. It’s a page where photographers from around the world can showcase their work. All they have to do is submit their images on the site via email or tag their images with #TheSBcJournal on Instagram. The Instagram account handle is @TheSBcJournal.

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Contact info

instagram
twitter
facebook
website

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Top 10 fashion portrait tips by Brian Rolfe

By Brian Rolfe

I love shooting fashion portraits, easy to plan, far less work than an editorial or commercial job! Give me a good model, quite often no team, just me, the model and an idea of what we want to create and almost without fail we’ll come away with some great shots that look uncontrived and natural. These are my tips for approaching this kind of portraiture…! !

#1 Put together a mood board beforehand that gives the general idea of what you’re aiming for, this doesn’t have to be an exact guide of the result you’d like but more of an overview so that everyone is on the same page. If you’ve not yet got a clearcut style then it’s good to find an image that’s close to what you want to create.!

#2 Pick the right model for the style you’re shooting, it sounds obvious but casting a very commercial girl next door type model when you want an editorial style with attitude is generally not going to work.!

#3 Remember models are people too, take the time to chat with them, get to know them a
little. Fashion portraits and people photography in general is as much about your personality as it is a model’s, create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere and it will show in your results!!

#4 Try not to over direct, I always find a good professional fashion model allowed to pose free will usually create magic you never thought of yourself, that pretty much goes for fashion portraits as well as editorials.!

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#5 Don’t ever put your camera down while the model is in front of you, you may just miss a candid shot that is a killer! I’ve done it and you will kick yourself.!

#6 Don’t get hung up on having a full team, some of my favourite shoots have been with no make up, hair or styling aside from what the model brings with her or him. I’ve shot models in an old pair of my jeans and that’s it.!

#7 Keep things simple, good lighting doesn’t need multiple light sources and expensive
modifiers, one light or daylight works best for a fashion portrait.!

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#8 Play with angles, shoot from the floor, move around the model and experiment.!

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#9 Keep make up natural or even shoot without any at all, a blank canvas and unstyled hair bring a realism to the shoot.!

#10 I generally keep styling basic for this kind or shoot, denim, t-shirts, vest tops, basics underwear, again give your model some ideas in advance or get something in yourself if you don’t have a stylist.! !

Have fun!

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 About Brian

pic22648Brian Rolfe is a professional photographer based just outside of London with a clean and classic style specialising in beauty, hair, fashion and portraiture.

Inspired by the classic photography of the sixties and the supermodel era of the eighties and nineties, he takes a simplistic approach, preferring to work with one or two lights and keep retouching to a minimum in order to enhance rather than overpower an image.

THE FUJIFILM X MAGAZINE IS HERE! – ISSUE 8

Issue 8 of the Fujifilm X Magazine is now available to view online, or download to your mobile or tablet via the Android or Apple app.

In this issue Swedish photographer Knut Koivisto shares his approach to people pictures, we give you seasonal portrait ideas, the X100T gets a test drive and to top it off, we showcase a superb set of desert landscapes taken in the Wild West!

 

 

 

Interview – Knut Koisvisto

Every photographer can learn from Knut Koivisto’s approach to portraiture. He explains how he works and why he uses Fujifilm X-series.

Click here to read the full interview »

 

X Marks the Spot

Monument Valley was on Gary Collyer’s photo bucket list for years. When he finally visited, it didn’t disappoint – and nor did his images.

Click here to read the full article »

 

What to shoot

Whether you want to work in the studio or outdoors, this is a great time to be shooting portraits. We’ve got all the advice you need.

Click here to read the full article »

 

Exhibition

Head to your local town or city and shoot urban images – that’s exactly what these X Magazine readers did and look at the results.

Click here to read the full article »

 

master the xMaster the X-series

How to take better portraits with off-camera flash, plus we get our hands on the third generation of the X100 models, the X100T.

Click here to read the full article »

 

Competition

If you’ve got a blog, we want to hear from you. X Magazine’s best blogger will win a fabulous new Fujifilm X-A2 outfit.

Click here to read more »

WARNING TCL-X100 causes more X100 series love

I was lucky enough to receive the TCL-X100 for Christmas and have barely had it off my X100s since. My beloved X100s goes with me everywhere and this is why it is probably my favourite camera. Though the TCL does make it far less ‘pocketable’, it doesn’t detract from the enjoyable shooting experience. The jump from 35mm to 50mm equiv. doesn’t sound like much but it does change how you shoot with this camera. It is definitely better for portraits, where the narrower angle of view helps to isolate a subject.

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This isn’t the best example, but if this was taken without the TCL then you would see a lot more of the barn, which might distract from the dog. For some reason I seem to have used lots of dog pictures as examples!

In terms of how this affects image quality and auto focus, I haven’t really noticed any difference, the images are still coming out wonderfully and auto focus doesn’t seem to have been affected in real world situations.

What is nice about this converter is that it is so simple, no electronics, just a well made metal barrel filled with beautiful glass. This is nice as it doesn’t add anymore complexity to X100 series shooting, which is so wonderfully simple and intuitive. Combined with the WCL-X100, this gives you a lens set up option of 28mm, 35mm or 50mm equiv. focal length, giving this little package a whole lot of usage options.

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Though the original joy of the X100 series is that it is a fixed lens, the ability to simply screw on an adapter for a wider or narrower lens option makes this a really flexible set up.

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The XF35mm F1.4 is a gorgeous lens but the benefit of using the TCL-X100 over the 35mm for portraits, especially using lights, is the leaf shutter which gives me flash syncing up to 1/1000 second! Yes I lose a stop from F1.4-F2, but generally for low light situations when working I would have the XF23mm F1.4 and the XF56mm F1.2 because they are wonderfully fast and sharp. I’m sure there are people who will still prefer the XF35mm F1.4 over this converter but for me it is going to replace it.

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Have you had a go with the TCL-X100? If so then let us know what you think of it. Any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

That photographer friend…

As an amateur photographer like many of you, I’m always looking for an excuse to shoot. Whether it be a day out, a wedding (as a guest), birthday party and the list goes on..

Because of this, the people close to me are used to me carrying a camera everywhere and posting out of context, random images to my personal Facebook wall on a very regular basis. I think as a result of this I have made it a bit of a personal responsibility to document events in my life and for others close to me. Maybe it’s so in the future I can look back happily nostalgic, or even to review my own photography, but for whatever reason it means that if you invite me to a party, gathering, or day out, you will end up with some images to remember it.

I think everyone has someone like this in their family or their group of friends and when I think back, my Grandad was that person. He would film all the family occasions with his cine-camera and every now and again we would have an evening to enjoy the images & film he’d taken on his slide projector.

These images are demonstrating exactly the kind of documentary photography that I have come to love. The opportunity came about when I was kindly invited as a guest to a birthday party. I even remember saying to my better half whether I should take the camera and “Do you think they would mind if I took images for the evening?” but then I answered my own question with “Why wouldn’t they? It’s capturing a beautiful moment in their life.” So I packed as light as I could, as after all, I was a guest as well as the unofficial photographer.

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Once I arrived, I set up the basic camera settings that I would use for the night. In my case this meant classic chrome, ISO AUTO, shutter set to AUTO and aperture set to f/1.4 (to keep the ISO to a minimum in the low light environment).

I started by enjoying a snack or two (of course!) and then looking around the room for the best costumes (fancy dress theme was the letter ‘T’), best expressions and where the best lighting was in the room. As you may or may not know my favourite set up is the X-E2 with XF35mm lens, this night was no exception. I had only this gear with me and a spare battery just in case.

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After the initial ‘Venue set up shots’ I began to focus my attention to people, being people – looking for those little moments and expressions that may otherwise be missed. From the happy & silly to the indifferent, any moment that could portray emotional involvement with the event would be snapped.

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The evening was going well and mingling had just started to make good pace when something brilliant happened – a magician turned up! And what was even better? Simple, this guy was superb. He immediately had people huddled in small groups laughing and puzzling over his close-up magic wonderment. This was the perfect element for me to focus on, I wanted to capture the suspense, surprise and bemusement that followed after each and every trick.

My approach here was to keep an eye on where the ‘actual’ excitement was in each moment. For example it could be the expression of an individual, the trick itself, the movement in the image etc. These are some of my images hopefully showing just that.

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I did occasionally stray away from the automatic focus and automatic shutter to help capture this fast fingered magician in motion.

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What is the next essential part of any family party?…. Yes, you’re right, it’s dancing! 😉 And not just any old songs either, it had to be the ‘classic’ Macarena.

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It’s all about those little moments that create one collage of memories and emotions caught in time.

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And most importantly, trying to capture the single most significant moment that sums up the whole event. The shot below shows my best attempt at this. Here you can see the family coming together after a rousing speech and the DJ reflects perfectly how their emotion is shared outwards by others around them.

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So the question is… are YOU that photography friend that everyone knows? Are you the one who makes it your passion to capture life as it happens for you and for your family? If so, I salute you! If your answer is no, why not give it a go? It will expand your skills, your confidence and very importantly it will develop your own style further. For me, if you haven’t noticed, I can’t help but shoot a lot of Dutch Angle style, rightly or wrongly, this is part of my style that has developed over time.

Please share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

Happy Shooting! 🙂