“Tish Murtha’s relentless vision can be characterized by a single trait: empathy. She unflinchingly investigated forsaken communities crippled by ineffective government policies and bleak living conditions.
Despite her notable output — powered by an active home darkroom — her work went underrecognized throughout her life and after her sudden death in 2013. Last year, her daughter Ella spearheaded an online campaign to publish a limited-edition book based on Murtha’s series “Youth Unemployment.” She is now having her first retrospective, “Tish Murtha: Works 1976-1991,” on view at The Photographers’ Gallery in London through October 14….
… Gordon MacDonald, the exhibit’s co-curator, deemed Ella the “driving force behind the rediscovery of her work and archive” (Ella herself was blunt as to why her mother had been overlooked for so long: “Because she didn’t have a penis”). This was, Mr. MacDonald said, “a very direct and plausible argument to explain this historic lack of visibility for Tish, and many other female artists and photographers.”… “
“Because she didn’t have a penis” is an apt comment from Tish Murtha’s daughter Ella Murtha explaining why her mother had been so overlooked as a great British documentary photographer for so long.
Yet Ms Murtha was not always overlooked, given her commission to photograph for the London by Night show by The Photographers’ Gallery in London, in 1983.
Three other great British photographers also worked on that show – Bill Brandt, Brian Griffin and Peter Marlow – all of whom were already widely acclaimed and successful documentary photographers or if not at the time of that show went on to be so shortly afterwards.
Except for Tish Murtha.
It is rewarding, then, to see that Tish Murtha is finally starting to receive her due but tragic that it is occurring only after her untimely death at the age of 56 in 2013.
Bluecoat Press – Youth Unemployment, by Tish Murtha – “Youth Unemployment is a key body of work in British documentary history…. Almost 40 years on, her talent shines from each page. Finally, she has the book she deserves.”
Café Royal Books – publishes beautiful small books aka “zines” of British documentary photography by a range artists including Tish Murtha.
“It is the policy of the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) that every member of the Society and the greater Film and Television industry has the right to work in an environment free from any gender, race, disability, religious, sexual orientation discrimination or harassment and bullying of any kind. This includes any verbal, emotional, physical, cyber or sexual harassment.
The Society will not tolerate any behaviour that is considered threatening or disrespectful towards or by any of our members or guests….”
“The Nikon D850 is quite the beast of a camera. It holds a massive 45.7-megapixel full-frame sensor that can record 4k video and create 8k time-lapses…. The only problem with such an amazing monster of a camera is that Nikon thinks it’s too much for women to handle….
… I myself can think of a large number of women photographers that would be more than capable of producing spectacular images with any camera, let alone this camera. But when Nikon created a team of 32 professional photographers to be the faces of the Nikon D850, they didn’t choose a single woman photographer….”
“… Sexism—from paternalism to discrimination to outright harassment—is a problem in just about every work setting, and the photo industry is no exception. As photographer Nadiya Nacorda puts it, “Sexism does not stop at the photo industry’s doorstep. It comes inside, and goes in your fridge, cracks open a beer, and sits on the couch.” Female photographers we interviewed expressed anger, frustration and resignation over the sexism they frequently encounter. They also expressed defiance—and hope….”
“Key organisations from across the screen industry have made a united and formal commitment to work towards building a more inclusive sector….
… To join the SDIN, all of the organisations have had to officially commit to a charterthat enshrines equal opportunities, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, disability or geographic location.
The charter obligates each organisation, inter alia, to reflect the diversity of Australian society in both who they hire and stories they create, to establish benchmarks around diversity, and to commit to seeking out and supporting diverse emerging talent….”
Social media has a habit of recycling old news as if it were new news, so little surprise that SheDoc, the joint initiative between Screen NSW and the Documentary Australia Foundation, has appeared on news feeds just as its applications deadline of March 1st looms.
SheDoc was launched in November 2016 and is a joint initiative of Documentary Australia Foundation and Screen NSW with the support of Røde Microphones.
This initiative is not before its time, given I have witnessed and experienced discrimination for being the wrong person from the wrong side of the tracks for decades now. With luck, female documentary moviemakers who have been unable to break through the glass ceiling may begin to start seeing some cracks appear.
SheDoc’s aim is to give 4 grants per year to:
Encourage new voices.
Enable skills to be consolidated or developed.
Assist projects to be kickstarted.
Assist in building strategic audience engagement strategies.
Fujifilm kicked off a global digital photography revolution when it released the X100 fixed prime lens rangefinder-style mirrorless camera in 2011 at a time when digital photography was dominated by big DSLRs made by the then two biggest camera manufacturers.
How things have changed, in some quarters at least. DSLRs still dominate the local newspaper industry but most photojournalists and documentary photographers of my acquaintance here and overseas left the DSLR world for the mirrorless realm some years ago.
Little wonder. Recently I showed a DSLR-dedicated friend one of my mirrorless cameras and he began wondering why he had put up with his DSLRs’ heaviness and old-world features for so long.
With Fujifilm’s announcement of the X100 series’ fourth iteration, the longevity of the original X100’s concept is demonstrated yet again.
The original X100 is a camera I use to this very day, especially when needing to be extra discrete, even more invisible than usual.
That original X100 has ably handled demonstrations, protests, festivals, conferences, travel and urban documentary projects.
Its autofocus is slow compared to the current generation of mirrorless cameras but not impossibly so, and its sensor is far from the biggest going, but the old adage holds true, that you only need 6 megapixels for a double-page spread or a single-page portrait.
Exhibition prints and 48-sheet posters are another thing altogether but Fujifilm now has those bases amply covered with its GFX 50S medium format masterpiece.
Moving up a notch
The X100F has moved up a notch to the same sensor as its X-Pro2 and X-T2 sisters, all 24.3 megapixels of it, and that is something of a minor miracle in such an affordable, professional-quality, small-bodied camera.
We are lucky to be living in the digital photography age, one no longer beset by golfball grain and beautiful though ultra-slow films – Kodachrome 25 and Panatomic-X anyone? – if the project demands sharpness and high resolution.
That a camera the size of the X100F can deliver image quality rivalling if not surpassing Fujifilm’s analog era mirrorless or SLR-based GX680 series 120-format cameras, especially when using faster films in them, is no small miracle.
I can see why photojournalism-style wedding photographer Kevin Mullins will be adopting an X100F alongside his two X-Pro2s equipped with XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 56mm f/1.2 lenses as part of his core wedding photojournalism kit.
It’s all black for me
Mr Mullins’ style is based on almost-straight-out-of-camera (almost-SOOC) JPEGs with his JPEG settings dialled down for a gritty hardness perhaps partially inspired by great British photographer Bill Brandt, but Mr Mullins’ photographs are almost grain-, or in reality digital noise- free.
Like Mr Mullins, I would definitely choose a black X100F over the silver one for its contribution to a photographer’s anonymity and near-invisibility.
Like him also, I consider the X100F as a complement to the X-Pro2, a fixed lens camera with the advantages that fixed lenses can bestow such as leaf shutter, high-speed flash sync, built-in ND filter and small form factor.
X100F and X-Pro2 compared
Photographs are not to scale.
Accessories for the X100F
There are three Fujifilm-brand accessories I consider essentials for the X100F, the WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens, the TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion Lens and an L-grip.
I would also add a Peak Design Clutch and Cuff camera strap pair, the latter a wrist-strap and the former a hand-strap, both ensuring good grip and safety if the camera falls out of your hand.
I have yet to see a Fujifilm brand L-grip for the X100F, similar to the FUHGX100T grip for its three predecessors, make its appearance online but surely it is a matter of time. I have used the X100 with and without this hand grip and, given the camera’s tiny built-in grip and slippery surface, consider it a necessity. Otherwise a few third-party alternatives will doubtless be available soon.
As usual, the proof of the pudding is in the trying and I look forward to giving an X100F a good roadtest sometime in the near future. For those who enjoy specs charts, a specifications spreadsheet PDF is available further down this page.
Meanwhile, I wish to hail the Fujifilm X100F as the rightful heiress to the classic that the X100 was in its day, and that may itself be a future classic in the waiting.
Fujifilm’s global YouTube.com channel FUJIFILMGlobal appears not have received the memo about female gender equality in its product videos given that all fifteen of its video feature male photographers with not one woman photographer in sight.
On the other hand, the Fuji Guys Channel run by Fujifilm employees based in several different countries including Australia has featured two female photographers so far, both in the USA.
Let’s hope more videos featuring women appear very soon, with at least one of them being Australian.
Congratulations to Fujifilm for adding six videos featuring female photographers using the newly announced Fujifilm GFX 50S, Fujifilm X100F and Fujifilm X-T20 cameras.
Gender inequality and female invisibility otherwise continue to be rife within all aspects of the photographic and movie industries and one of the most important ways of combatting this is with female visibility.
By extension, if females see other females shooting photographs and making movies, then we may well assume that we, too, stand a chance of doing it ourselves, of making it in the creative and media industries, and even of being featured in industry PR and advertising campaigns as Fujifilm has done.
Take a look at the low percentage of female photographers featured as photography and movie industry brand ambassadors and the many articles written about gender inequality in the movie industry in particular.
It can be just as mediocre in photography and the other media and creative industries.
This tendency must be reversed with conscious efforts by industry manufacturers as well as employers and clients.
Thank you, Fujifilm, for recently adding six women to your GFX Challenges, X100F and X-T20 video series. More, please, and please add more women to your X-Photographers ranks, especially in Australia.
The Six Videos:
Fuji Guys Channel –Karen Hutton and the X-T20 in California (USA)
Fuji Guys Channel – Valerie Jardin and the X100F in Minneapolis (USA)
FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Claire Rosen / FUJIFILM
FUJIFILMglobal – X-T20: Elke Vogelsang x Dogs / FUJIFILM
FUJIFILMglobal – X-T20: Saraya Cortaville x Portrait/ FUJIFILM
FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Victoria Wright/ FUJIFILM
Header aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris. Product photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.