X Ambassador Tim Page talks about the Fujifilm X-Pro1Posted by Fujifilm Australia
Tim Page - Photo: Marianne Harris
Tim Page is one of Australia’s and the world’s most celebrated photojournalists. His life was the basis for the photojournalist played by Dennis Hopper in the Hollywood blockbuster Apocalypse Now, but if you listen to the 71-year-old veteran, the golden years of photojournalism have changed.For professional photographers, the changes have created significant differences in the market, including much easier access to photography for people of all levels. And the internet has meant anyone can publish their work via a blog, democratising the process.
Yet Tim remains positive and optimistic. He has embraced aspects of this change, such as the Fujifilm X-series cameras, with gusto and continues to enjoy his photography today as much as he did in the ‘60s and ‘70s. However, he encourages photographers to go beyond their selfie-sticks and look more deeply into what serious photography can do.
Bokor Mountain Casino, Cambodia, 2013 - X-Pro1, XF35mmF1.4, 1/125 @ F10.0 ISO 1000
Images That Count
“When I go to events today, I see a sea of smartphones in front of me. These photographers might be at a Rolling Stones concert, but they aren’t photographing Mick Jagger who is only ten feet away, they are taking selfies! There is no thought of taking an image that counts - it’s a completely different world.
“I think the same could be said about zoom lenses which have made us lazy. We stand at the same point and zoom the lens in and out, instead of moving in and looking around. However, I’m not whingeing, it’s just that you remember the more glorious and glamorous times when there were fewer competitors. Of course, the younger generation could argue it is even more competitive today because there are so many photographers - and that would be true too.
“A few years ago, I’d attend an event and I’d know half the snappers there. Now I attend an event and there is a sea of smartphones and digital cameras banging away. All I want to do is make one or two good pictures. I choose my moment as opposed to the impetuousness of the digital age.
“In 1960, I went into the field with 20 rolls of film and I knew I couldn’t afford to waste frames. I learnt where to place myself to get a good composition.
“Today, photographers don’t seem to work this way, but you can’t stop this flood, this tsunami. You just have to face that it’s a complete revamp of how we see and make images. It’s turned the whole business upside down, although it probably doesn’t change the top 10 to 15 per cent of images which are still printed and published. However, online it’s much harder to find a high calibre of work. If I trawl through twenty or more websites and blogs, I can hardly remember a frame, so I miss the front page of my Guardian morning newspaper and its strong cover images.”
Graffitti Surry Hills, Sydney, 2014 - X-Pro1, XF14mmF2.8 R, 1/125 @ F4.0 ISO 200
Change For The Better
One thing a photographer like Tim Page knows only too well is that the medium of photography will continue to change. While there are aspects of his old film cameras he laments disappearing, he appreciates many of the advances in the digital workflow.
“I remember reading an interview with American photographer Pete Turner. Pete laughed about the photographers at the time who were complaining about the new autofocus systems. He said, ‘I’m 72 and anything that makes my life easier is just awesome’.
“Similarly, I have no trouble with autofocus or modern advances, providing they work. Unfortunately, modern cameras aren’t as tough as the old film models and if they muck up, you can’t take the modern gear apart and put it back together. I have sat in the field during a war with a Nikon lens that fell apart. The barrel separated from the chassis, so I sat down and put the screws back in to fix it. You can’t do this with digital.”
Tim realizes that one solution is to take a couple of extra bodies along, maybe not out into the field on every shoot, but kept back at the hotel when possible. However, while digital cameras might not survive as well in hostile environments as the old mechanical models, they are a lot easier for the average person to use and consequently there are a lot more photographers out there shooting the same subject. Including wars.
“Many people don’t seem to realise that good photography is based on experience behind the lens. It’s not just the ability to pick up an iPhone and point it, it’s when and where you point it.”
Monks begging for alms, Siem Reap, 2013 - X-Pro1, XF14mmF2.8 R, 1/60 @ F6.4 ISO 100
Looking around for a camera that best suits his approach to photography, Tim settled on the range of Fujifilm X-series Compact System Cameras. He started with the X-Pro1 and the diminutive X100.
“What I love about the 21mm focal length is that it has an angle-of-view of 90 degrees, so if you want your subject to be prominent, you have to get in close.”
Tim is talking about a 21mm lens on a full-frame camera, similar to a 14mm lens on an APS-C sensor (like the Fujifilm X-series cameras). His love affair with the 21mm began years back when shooting with his Leica film cameras.
Even when using a 16-35mm zoom on a full frame SLR, Tim found himself shooting at 20mm or 21mm most of the time.
“I guess it’s about old habits, but it’s also a matter of visual approach and style, the way that I work. I’m 71 years old and some things have become ingrained - the way I frame, the way I compose, the way I put my ‘lick’ on a photograph.
Modup driver takes five, Phnom Penh, 2013 - X-Pro1, XF35mmF1.4, 1/60 @ F2.2 ISO 2500
“I can put the old Leica 21mm on my Fujifilm X-Pro1, but compositionally this is a big mistake because it’s a full-frame lens. What I use instead is the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 14mm f2.8 R which gives me an equivalent angle-of-view.
“That’s what’s so nice today about having the little Fujifilm with a 14mm around my neck. It feels very comfortable.”
For more about the Fujifilm X-Series family of cameras, visit www.fujifilm.com.au. Or take a trip to your nearest Fujifilm camera supplier.