Finding Photographic Balance in Hawaii

I recently returned home from a family vacation in Hawaii, where I spent nine days with my wife and daughter during spring break.  As time was ticking down to our departure a lot of friends and colleagues asked me what camera I was taking, what I was bringing as a backup, what lenses I would bring, where I would be shooting, what projects I had planned, etc.  A few were surprised when they heard my answer:  I was only taking a Fujifilm X100F, with an extra battery and a couple of extra memory cards.  That’s it.  No backup camera.  No extra lenses.  No defined plans to shoot (other than one which fell through).  I had no plans to bring a laptop either, just an iPad to edit on as needed.

I think there was surprise because my two loves, photographically speaking, are travel and street photography.  It is fair to say that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, I enjoy more as an artist than discovering new places with a camera in my hand.  It is the foundation of most of my business activities.  It is the basis of my blog, my Instagram posts, my workshops and so many other parts of my business.  I love the work that I do and the life that I lead. 

This wasn’t a work trip though, it was a family vacation, and the last thing I wanted to do was allow photography to dominate my time.  There will always be opportunities to take photographs but our children don’t stay young forever.  These nine days had to be about time with my daughter on the beach, time with my wife by the pool and time as a family enjoying activities.  I think the worst thing that could happen on a trip like this would be that I let my intense drive to make images dominate my focus and attention.  

The key for this trip then, as with most things in life actually, had to be finding the right balance.  I decided to allow myself time for just one photowalk per day, shooting whatever caught my eye during the walk.  All images would be taken in jpeg only and the keepers would be wifi-ed to my iPad where they would receive minimal post processing, if needed at all.  

One friend I spoke to about this plan commented that he could never do that as he would be afraid of missing a shot.  When I asked for examples he couldn’t provide any, other than to say that he felt like he always had to be prepared for any shooting situation.  This of course necessitates him carrying a messenger bag with two bodies and four lenses every time he travels, even to places like Disneyland with his kids.  I think one of the biggest differences between my friend and I is that I am ok with “missing photos”.  Completely ok with it, actually, as long as it isn’t client work.  The truth is that limitation serves to make me more creative so, if anything, traveling light makes me a better photographer.

To be fair, I wasn’t always this mindful.  As a matter of fact, it has only been two years since I wrote this article:

The night photography almost ruined my vacation – A cautionary tale

That night taught me a lot about being mindful and purposeful.  Sure, if I am traveling for professional purposes I will plan my shoots and bring the requisite equipment.  On a family vacation though it is important for me to remember that family comes first and not photography.  Yes, I will still shoot, but only as time allows.  Conversely, the next few months will see me in several European countries, as well as in Toronto, teaching workshops and shooting client work.  You can bet that those trips will be all photography, all the time.  

Balance, for the win.

All of the images in this blog post were captured as jpegs with the Fujifilm X100F, wirelessly transferred to my iPad (usually while sitting on the beach), and processed in Lightroom Mobile as needed.  It worked perfectly and once again I was reminded of how awesome the Fuji X System is.  

With that said, I hope you enjoy this brief glimpse into life on the beaches of Hawaii!

Until next time,

Ian

406 Days With the Fuji X100F

406 days ago my friends at Fujifilm asked me if I would like to be one of 50 Official Fuji X Photographers to beta test the new (at the time) Fuji X100F.

390 days ago the camera arrived.

12,942 frames later, I am still shooting 90% of my personal work with the X100F.  I simply love this camera.

Over the past few years I have worked with pre-production models of many Fuji products but, as a long time X100 series user, this was the camera that I was really looking forward to.  I, like many others, have tried to put into words what it is about this camera that inspires me so much; but to be honest, I still can’t.  The X100 series, and especially the X100F, really is the embodiment of the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.  I am very fortunate to also own an X-T2 and an X-Pro2, both incredibly capable cameras, but it is the X100F that I always reach for first unless I have a specific need for one of the other cameras.

Two years ago I wrote an article entitled, “What’s next for the Fuji X100T?”, in which I shared my wish list for the successor to that camera.  Earlier this year Fuji not only delivered, but surpassed everything that I had hoped for (other than weather sealing).  As I sit here, contemplating what I would love to see in the successor to the Fuji X100F, the truth is that the list is pretty small as the “F” ticks all of the boxes for me (key words:  “for me”).  Yes, I would like to see weather sealing come to the next generation of this camera, but I can also say that I have shot in rain with the X100F many times and have not had any problems.  I would like the ability to select the number of film simulations I can bracket (I usually only want two), and I would like to be able to save a RAW file alongside an Advanced Filter image.  Sure, we could always use faster autofocus, but there is nothing in this camera that is a barrier to creating the work I see in my head.   On the contrary, there is something elusive about it that inspires me to go out and make new work.  As many others have said before me:  this is definitely my desert island camera.

As I reflect back on this past year in my photographic life, I’d like to share two dozen images taken with the Fuji X100F (some that were posted in previous articles and some that haven’t been posted before).  The versatility of this camera never ceases to amaze me and I can’t wait to see what Fuji does next.

Do you shoot with an X100 series camera?  If so I’d love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments below!

Cheers,

Ian

 

Los Angeles street photography with the Fuji X100F – Part two

Note: This is part two of a two part series featuring street photography from a recent trip to Los Angeles. To view part one click HERE.

As I was getting everything together for this article I happened to look back on my blog posts for this year and was surprised to see how much street photography I have posted.  I consider myself a candid and documentary photographer, which to me is an encompassing term that includes my street work, my travel work, my candid wedding photography and of course the education I provide.  In previous years, I put a lot of effort into ensuring that I always presented a balanced mix from the above genres on this site, but in 2017 there has definitely been more of a focus on new gear and street photography.  I think this is a direct result of something that I read late last year:

“Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don’t disturb your mind with seeking.”

When I first read this I interpreted it to mean, in the context of my photography, that I should allow myself the space to shoot whatever speaks to me right now (client work notwithstanding of course) and to spend 2017 allowing my creativity and my vision to guide my work.  I think it is important for photographers to seek out new knowledge, but I also think it is important sometimes to step back and let your creativity guide you at times too.  This is what I have been focusing on his year.

I am planning upcoming trips to Europe and California in the fall which will provide a lot of new travel content for this site, but the truth is that when I am left to my own devices street photography speaks to me more than anything else right now.  It isn’t a new genre for me, I have always shot it, but this year it is giving me so much satisfaction as an artist.  I don’t need anything but my camera and a good pair of shoes.  I can shoot it almost anywhere, at anytime, with little to no planning.  It is the antithesis of much of the client driven work I produced for years and I know the gains I make on the street this year are benefiting all of the other aspects of my photography too.

And, to be a street photographer who has the opportunity to travel often to places like Los Angeles? It is an amazing thing.

So, with that said, here is part two of my LA street photography series from my recent family trip in March.  As I mentioned in part one of this series, my shooting time was very limited on this trip, so all of the images in both parts of this series are much more spur of the moment shots than I usually take.

In my next blog post I will be writing about the process of editing a body of work for a small gallery showing Fujifilm asked me to do.  Stay tuned!

Cheers,

Ian