Australian photographers rarely if ever feature in camera and lens makers’ marketing materials and few Australia female photographers are invited to become brand ambassadors whether they are based in Australia or overseas.
Documentary photographer Megan Lewis features in one of two recently-released Fujifilm X-Photographer videos about the X-Pro3 digital rangefinder-style camera with documentary photographer Michael Coyne being her male counterpart.
Both are long-time Fujifilm users and are well-qualified to offer their insights into the X-Pro3 as a dedicated documentary and photojournalism stills camera.
I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting either photographer, though I am keen to spend time with Megan Lewis to photograph her at work for ‘Unititled’ in order to show other female photographers that one can succeed as a documentary photographer or photojournalist.
In the immortal words of Geena Davis of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, “if she can see it, she can be it”, and so stories, photo essays and videos about female creatives like Megan Lewis are crucial to creating the possibility of women succeeding in their chosen professions to the point where we gain parity with men.
FUJIFILM X Series: Megan Lewis x X-Pro3 / FUJIFILM
FUJIFILM X Series: Different Breed: Michael Coyne x X-Pro3
Fujinon lenses used by Megan Lewis and Michael Coyne in these videos
Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens.
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens.
I attended Fujifilm Australia’s First Look Touch & Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney on Wednesday, 6th November, 2019, and had a brief opportunity to handle a preproduction version of the Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder camera that has already been well-covered in Fujifilm X-Photographer videos and articles, and first-look commentary by a range of online camera pundits.
As the camera is in preproduction at time of writing, the usual request not to shoot or publish photographs made with it applies, so I will not comment on its stills and video capabilities but will attest that the X-Pro3 is an interesting evolution of Fujifilm’s professional rangefinder line.
Fujifilm is marketing the X-Pro3 as a camera for “street photographers” as Panasonic did for its latest rangefinder-style GX series camera, the Lumix DC-GX9, and I am hoping that with its X-Pro series Fujifilm will not be imitating Panasonic’s decision to make its GX series something less than a great camera for photojournalists and documentary photographers.
I dread the day my Lumix DMC-GX8 gives up the ghost given Panasonic so unexpectedly dropped the ball on pro-quality rangefinder-style cameras in favour of DSLR-style cameras like the admittedly otherwise excellent Lumix DC-G9.
The Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder-style camera
Photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with MHG-XPRO3 grip and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Throughout my career I have relied on a range of camera styles and formats – rangefinders, rangefinder-style cameras, hand and stand sheet film cameras, SLRs aka Single Lens Reflexes in 120 and 135 film formats, and a DSLR upon Canon’s accidental revolution in the form of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
My first choice for immersive documentary photography has always been rangefinder cameras and I have been hoping the X-Pro3 would receive many of the advances found in the X-H1 and X-T3.
Until I have a proper hands-on with it, I will not know whether that is truly the case, but the X-Pro3’s loss of the ability to use its otherwise improved optical viewfinder aka OVF with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R moderate wide-angle prime lens is a concern.
For many documentary photographers and photojournalists, as it has long been for me, the 28mm focal length (on 35mm sensor cameras) is our default and its 18mm APS-C equivalent works well on the X-Pro2 and especially in its OVF.
Since 2015 I have been daydreaming of a radically improved X-Pro3 being released alongside an even more radically upgraded Fujinon XF 18mm lens with both aimed at documentary photographers and photojournalists, but Fujifilm seems to have decided on setting its sights lower than that, upon street photographers whom I humbly suggest might be better served by the forthcoming X100V.
Time will tell where Fujifilm is heading with its cameras, but I hope that it will not forget its documentary and photojournalism customers as Panasonic appears to have done.
Both companies employed celebrated photojournalists to publicize previous versions of their rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras but dropped them in favour of street photographers in their latest versions.
“As revolutions go, this one got off to a quiet and unassuming start in the early 1970s. It was achieved slowly, one female photographer at a time, each hired by The New York Times for her talent with a camera and her desire to practice the best journalism possible.
The men who hired the first of those women quite likely weren’t thinking about altering the prevailing concepts of photojournalism. But over time, as more women were hired and gained acceptance, they began to push successfully for publication of images that were different, for the truths they saw in people and events, for assignments that had once been denied them and for assignments that had not been envisioned before….”
Tish Murtha, one of Magnum photojournalist David Hurn’s first students at the famous School of Documentary Photography in Newport, Wales, in the 1970s, was one of the finest documentary photographers of her generation but, in the all-too-usual manner, was ignored by the photography establishment until recently thanks to the tireless efforts of her daughter Ella Murtha, The Photographers’ Gallery, Bluecoat Press, Café Royal Books and others.
The course at The School of Documentary Photography was unique in Britain at the time and produced many fine photographers, a couple of whom later moved to Australia.
Others went on to fame and fortune, while Tish Murtha seemed to have disappeared into the background after initial early successes and commissions, dying prematurely in 2013.
Given the way female photographers have tended to be ignored and forgotten, it is wonderful to see that Tish Murtha is finally receiving the recognition that she deserved so much in her lifetime.
“… Mastin Labs founder Kirk Mastin shares a few female photographers that inspire him including Diane Arbus, Lauren Greenfield, and Annie Leibovitz.”
I have yet to try out Mastin Labs’ film matching presets that are made by scanning real analog film with a Fuji Frontier scanner, but the results look amazing and more accurate than any by other companies.
If I were back shooting editorial portraits for magazines again then I would most certainly seriously consider, well, all of Mastin Labs’ presets and would also hope that some of my other favourite films would appear there one day soon.
“Fujifilm Corporation is collaborating with Magnum Photos on a major new project exploring the subject of “HOME”. An exhibition of the work will tour to seven cities around the world starting in March 2018, and be accompanied by a photobook.
15 Magnum Photographers will explore the theme of “HOME” for the project. Known for their wide range of approaches, Magnum Photos members produce documentary photography that encompasses art and photojournalism. Sharing the agency’s legacy for humanistic photography, associated with its founding in 1947, Magnum’s contemporary practitioners are united by a curiosity about the world. This project invites them to explore a universal subject familiar to us all.
“Home” is not only defined as a space for physical living. It holds various other associations that are emotional, biological, cultural and societal. These 15 photographers have been given an open brief to explore the subject through their own individual practices, the resulting work reflecting their personal take on a subject that we all record photographically….”
March has been declared Women’s History Month, celebrated in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, while International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8th March. In Sydney, International Women’s Day is commemorated with the Sydney International Women’s Day March and Rally in Hyde Park, held this year on Saturday 11th March between 10am and 12noon.
Female photographers at the Women’s March in Sydney, January 2017
I will be there this Saturday and attended the event last year, photographing the gathering and march from Hyde Park down Macquairie Street with my trusty Fujifilm Finepix X100. The day was hot and bright, while this Saturday may be dark, cold and wet.