I hope you’re still keeping safe and well and managing to move gradually towards some small sense of normality – whatever that means! Personally, I haven’t shot on the streets since before lockdown but I’m on the verge of coming out of hibernation and looking forward to putting my shiny new Fujifilm X100V through its paces. I’m sure that, like me, you can’t wait to get out onto the streets and shooting again. But can you – and should you? It’s a personal choice which I can’t make for you. Whilst I believe this virus situation is far from over, I do think we can make tentative steps towards shooting again. But please take care!
As for workshops, we will be back to normal (well, some form of ‘new normal’) at the beginning of August. We will of course take our cues from the Government’s advice and will be taking whatever precautionary measures are necessary to ensure that all participants stay safe.
Let’s talk about zines. These are becoming really popular in the street photography community and are a great way to get your work out there at very low cost. If you would like me to feature your own zine in a future edition of this newsletter, please send me a hard copy in the post.
Chris Humphreys, one of my workshop students, recently produced his first zine, ‘London at Night’, which was shot in and around Soho after dark. Chris has done a terrific job here and it’s a great illustration of how easy and cost-effective zines are to put together. He went for a perfect-bound A5 portrait format, which I think works really well. Chris has written an article about now he created his first zine, which you can read here.
Fujifilm X100V – first thoughts
I have recently taken delivery of a shiny new X100V and I’m slightly frustrated that I’ve not been able to use it ‘in anger’ yet. But that’s probably no bad thing as I’ve been able to get to know it first – I’ve even read the manual (perhaps a first for me). So what makes this camera different? I’m not going to write a review as there are hundreds of those in circulation already so I’ll just give you a steer about what I like / dislike:
- Flip screen: this is a game changer for many street photographers (though I don’t use it much personally). The designers have done a great job here, having developed a mechanism which adds no extra bulk to the body. Bravo.
- Lens: this is a brand new version of the f/2 lens and it’s significantly better than previous versions. It’s sharper (particularly wide open), more contrasty and faster.
- Sensor: this camera has the latest 26mp X-Trans sensor technology (same as in my X-Pro3) and it’s superb.
- Weather sealing: another game changer and a big plus for street photographers.
- No D-pad: at last! I never got on with the D-pad and was always changing settings by mistake. The new layout is more minimalist and does the job perfectly.
- Design: whilst there are no major changes, some subtle enhancements have made the X100V even lovelier than its predecessors. It’s a joy to hold and to use.
- Film simulations: increased range, including the latest Classic Neg, which I rather like.
- USB-C charging: great if you travel a lot, as I do. You don’t need a charger, just the cable.
- ND filter: built-in 4 stop ND filter.
And the negatives? There are a couple of very minor niggles which are worth mentioning but they really are no big deal. The first is that to get total weather sealing you need to buy an additional filter ring. Secondly, there’s no ‘view mode’ button, although you can assign this to another function button. But that’s about it – as I said, no big deal and doesn’t detract from what must now be the best street photographers’ camera on the market. If you ask me ‘Is it worth upgrading from the F?’ the answer is definitely ‘yes’; the price increase isn’t huge but this is a much more accomplished and ‘complete’ camera.
In the Spotlight: Tobias Riedl
Tobias, a doctor based in Germany, has been on three workshops with me, the most recent being in Prague. I asked Tobias the usual 5 questions about his street photography . . .
1. Why are you a street photographer
There are two reasons. The first is that I want to document the time I’m living and the people on the streets. Buildings and landscape may remain for centuries. The people are only there for a moment. This moment changes continuously. The other reason is that I enjoy the loneliness and the quiet being alone on the street. Even when there is a crowed scene. I’m there for me alone.
2. How would you describe your approach?
A curious spectator of life. Very discrete and nearly invisible. I just appear for the shot and disappear again.
3. Who has influenced your style?
I look at many pictures. But I’m impressed by Elliott Erwitt. The black and white pictures are fantastic.
4. What gear do you use – and why?
For the digital pictures I use Fuji X100f or XT-3. Both are very good for street photography. Small, silent and discrete. But my favourite is my old Nikon F3 with 50mm 1.2 aperture and Ilford 400 b/w film. It’s reduces to the relevance. The missing possibility to look at the picture “out of cam”. The limitation of 36 pictures a roll and the limited range of ISO are fantastic to get continuous style.
5. What projects or longer term goals do you have in mind?
I’m on a project to document the city of Prague. The tourist side with it’s positive and negative aspects. I go there as often as possible (not now). At the end I want to create a small book for a charity project. The first version is already done.
Street photography on YouTube
In case you didn’t already know, I have a YouTube channel dedicated to street photography. There’s no ‘filler’ – it’s all about useful tips, techniques and insights. I promise never to say ‘Wassup’ and never to wear a baseball hat the wrong way round. And there will be no unboxings. Please join the community and it’s really helpful if you can hit that ‘subscribe’ button. You can visit the channel here.
Photo London 2020
As it was clearly unfeasible to continue with this terrific festival of photography in May, the organisers have rearranged the event and it will now run from 7-11 October at Gray’s Inn Gardens, London WC2. Expect the usual formula of exhibitions, talks, print sales and more. Do go – it’s good! More details here.
Webinar with Fujifilm: Introduction to Street Photography
Save the date! – Thursday 2nd July at 7pm – I’m doing a 45-minute livestream webinar on Facebook with a 15-minute Q&A session at the end. I’ll send you the link nearer the time but if you’re new to street photography, or would like a refresher on some key points, do tune in!
Documentary project workshops – an update
Both of the 12 month documentary projects based on the English seaside are now fully booked and I’m now looking at putting an additional date in the calendar. This one will probably start with a 3-day workshop in Southend and will follow the same format as the two Blackpool workshops (click here for details). If the previous two workshops were anything to go by, this will sell out very quickly so if you are interested please let me know and I’ll give you the opportunity to book before I open it up to the public. These workshops are for experienced street photographers (we won’t be going over the basics of street photography) who want to get their teeth into a substantial project.
Street photography workshop – extended version
Quite a few people have asked for an introductory street photography workshop which goes beyond the usual one day, so I’m now running weekend versions of this, which run from Friday evening through to Sunday evening (in central London). This is more in-depth with more assignments, more 1-2-1 time, more discussion, more time developing projects and lots of critique. You can check out these workshops here.
That’s just about it for now. Please stay safe, keep your pecker up and I hope to see you on the streets before too long. As always, do feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss anything.