Me & my art
So you quickly skimmed through this article and you can see this is a long read. In short, here is what Im sharing with you in this article:
- How painting and the arts led me to photography.
- My opinions about photography gear, and how it does, or does not, influence an artist.
- My move from Nikon to Fujifilm
Note: I’ve included a bit about my love affair with strumming, string bending and classic rock music.
My visual journey started as a tactile experience and grew into a love for painting to document my own perspective of the world around me. Starting out in the arts I cut my teeth with traditional brushes, oil paint and turpentine on hardboard or canvas. My step mother, and nationally renowned artist, showed me how light and shade affects colours and depth on a two-dimensional plane using paint.
By no means a master piece but what I learnt in painting would translate into much of what has formed me as a photographer.
My persistent need to express myself through the arts also took me along an interesting path with 6 strings strung on a piece of wood. I started playing guitar at the late age of 17 and from day one it was an intense relationship of love and hate. Love because of how music made me feel when I was playing it, and hate because I always wanted more from it. This led to countless hours of widdeling, (a guitar term for playing way more notes than is sometimes needed) and string bending with the occasional swear-word creeping in!
I had started too late as a guitarist to make a certain career out of it, but that was not going to stop me from trying. The short of it, is I spent way too many hours (and much money) playing my guitar.
I enjoyed two years of “full time music” substituted by a career in table waiting. Yes, its sad to say I earned more money as a waiter than a guitarist.
With that said, I did play a few very interesting (and sometimes dodgy) gigs. The largest crowd we played too was about 8 000 as the TUKS FM rock idols winners.
My love for music and playing my guitar has never died, and together with my best friend and guitar virtuoso Nathan Smith we still put together music productions. I, however don’t play guitar on the productions but rather concern myself with art direction and production decisions. See one of our latest projects Dont Stop Believing – A Journey Tribute
Photography to me was like a duck to water, it just clicked 😊.
The travel bug bit and between 1999 and 2009, I visited over thirty countries. I could not take paints and an easel with me so I decided to start this fascinating art called photography. The first photography book I read was from a public library in the town of Romford, Essex, England. I used all my money and bought my first Minolta film camera from Jessops (a popular photographic chain store in England). From there on forward I was clicking through my eye-piece all the way. I fell in love with capturing the moment through a lens. Line, colour, expression and mood have always fascinated me. I found that I was most absorbed when using these elements while taking pictures of the world around me.
My general view of camera gear is that it is a supplement to the photographers vision. It is not the gear that makes an image. The best camera system in the world will not be able to replace the need for a photographer to understand, and master the use of colour, composition and mood (Elements that I hold in highest regard when considering the art of photography).
Here is a quote by Ernst Haas (One of the world’s forerunners in colour photography) that defines how important it is that an image starts in the mind and soul long before it gets to the hands.
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” ― Ernst Haas
Photography remains a mechanical process in its execution. Unlike many other art forms, technology does have a huge part to play in the photographer’s decision-making process. As such, it is also important that a photographer understands his or her tools. It is in fact, a skill and process that should be so well understood and practised that it becomes transparent to the artists vision. Your tools have capabilities and limitations, which should be so well rehearsed and understood, that it does not hinder you from expressing what it is your vision is drawing you towards.
After using my Minolta film camera for a few years, I switched over to digital photography using DSLR camera’s. Nikon would be the brand of camera that I felt at home with for many years and in my opinion, it stays a well-rounded and reliable system.
I have never felt that I needed a “better” camera to enjoy my photography. Rather, I look at how easy and intuitive it is for me to express my vision with the camera on hand. This is where using the Fujifilm X-T2 blew me away.
Taking the Fujifilm X-T2 into the field for the first time, I could immediately dial-in my settings with visual and tangible dials.
Taking the Fujifilm X-T2 into the field for the first time, I could immediately dial-in my settings with visual and tangible dials. Whether I was composing my frame from the back LCD, or, through the electronic viewfinder, the experience was responsive. Since I can see the exact exposure, white balance, depth of field and film effect of the image, I feel more intimate with the image I’m making, I get to experience the “mood” of the image while composing it. This allows me to make creative decisions about what I am photographing that otherwise might have passed me by.
Here are a few other points that I enjoy about my Fujifilm X-T2.
• Film simulations. Fujifilm have been steering extensive research into delivering photo quality results for more than 80 years. This experience helps them to reproduce colours and tones that are highly usable by professional photographers like myself. Having the different film simulations available to me in camera is a huge advantage to my shooting experience.
• Fast live view with 3 directional tilting LCD makes shooting at difficult angles easy.
• Sophisticated tactile controls and dedicated thumb stick gives me professional control over my shooting environment.
• Solid body with dust and moisture control gives me added confidence when shooting in wet conditions. I have used my X-T2 in cold mountain terrain as well as hot beaches without it letting me down.
• 4K Video recording with F-Log mode. Even thought I don’t do video as a main profession I still get jobs in that requires video.
• Great noise handling allows me to shoot at high ISO speeds with confidence. This is a MUST have for wedding photographers who work in low light conditions. I can easily print images in a large album shooting up to ISO6400.
• Focus points that cover the entire frame. This is a huge advantage when shooting apertures larger than F2. Recomposing focus points increases the chances of soft or blurry images.
• Image previews in camera allows me to preview my images for closed eyes, correct lighting etc. when taking the shot. This saves time and eliminates the need for “chimping” (Looking at the back of your screen after you have taken the shot).
• Size and weight. Due to the reduced size of my gear I am able to travel lighter and quicker. When flying for a gig over a weekend I can now getaway without check-ins and at the end of the day I am not as physically exhausted.
• Value for money. Especially for the professional, Fujifilm is way ahead of the competition in this regard. For the same lense that cost me R30 000 I can now purchase at almost a third of the price. This allows me to expand on my gear and my assistant can now shoot with F1.4 Glass.
• Local representation & responsiveness to users input. Fujifilm Photographic have become legendary for listening to what their users are saying. This leaves them with solutions and innovations that are current and needed. Having Fujifim themselves in South Africa leaves me with great support. I am not dealing with a third party distributor which might have a list of other products that they too need to service.
I dont believe that any one system is perfect. The inputs I have listed above are what matter to me most as a professional photographer who relies on his equipment for a living. If you have taken the time to read this article I want to let you know that I appreciate it and would love to connect with you should you need any advice, or have your own input for me.
I am humbled and privileged to be a Fujifilm X-Photographer. I encourage every person who has come to love the art of photography, to keep learning and developing their creative eye as well as their photographic skill.
To find out about my amazing wedding team visit: The Crew
P.S. Let me leave you with some randomness about me:
I find myself an oddball at times, but those who dont know me will disagree :). I have travelled around most continents but my heart is where my home is, Pretoria, South Africa. My sense of humour is dry, and that puts a smile on my wife’s face, and that, puts a smile on my face. Its important to me that the people around me are happy. I love sharing an evening of good food and wine with new, or, old friends. My previous employment was at my fathers drug rehabilitation centre and I still have a huge passion for people that cry out for help. I love my two boys James and Joshua more than could ever explain with words. I look to Jesus for my direction & hope that my boys will have the privileged of doing the same.
And dont forget, I really, really, really love photography too 🙂