Feature film and documentary DoP Nancy Schreiber is the very first female cinematographer to receive the ASC’s Presidents Award and it might, just might, inspire young women to take up cinematography with an eye on working in feature films. I certainly hope so.
The only other female movie professional and ASC member to win an ASC award, DoP Tami Reiker, won 2004’s Movie of the Week or Pilot for lensing the first season of Carnivalé released by HBO.
Before the World Wide Web came into being freeing up the sharing of information, gatekeepers controlled access to facts about career possibilities, especially for women.
Growing up in a far-flung regional capital meant submitting to what one was told one was permitted to do artistically and professionally, and those who kicked against the pricks were severely censured, even blacklisted.
There were no female cinematographers or directors to be seen, no role models and certainly no mentors. Potentially brilliant careers were curbed and subjected to the interests of the gatekeepers’ hold on power.
Only those of the right gender and background were permitted to know about further professional moviemaking education then given the chance of applying for it, often with a well-mentored career to follow.
Without positive examples of successful female filmmakers and especially cinematographers, I and other visual storytelling creatives of my acquaintance flushed their hopes and dreams of moviemaking careers for more mundane occupations supporting men in the traditional manner or employment in production support if they were lucky.
Most just stopped being creative, dreams shattered completely.
The Presidents Award, writes Variety‘s Valentina I. Valentini, “honors a member’s contribution to the next generation of DPs. Schreiber has been a longtime mentor to younger camera crew members, and has worked with Film Independent’s Project Involve — a program designed to enhance the careers of women and people of color.”
We all know the dismal statistics about the lack of filmmakers of color in the industry. Women and LGBT artists also nearly impossible to find. Project Involve is working to change all that….
Ms Schreiber, Variety‘s articlecontinues, “has taught advanced cinematography at the American Film Institute, and is a guest lecturer at film schools around the world.”
If only someone like Nancy Schreiber had existed when I was young, and had reached out to potential young filmmakers outside the film school system in the east.
Variety‘s article ends with this inspirational quote:
“If this award does anything,” says Schreiber, “it will open some doors to the younger generation of women, to show that they can succeed, that they can work in all areas of the film and television industry.”
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.
Fujifilm announced the development of its new digital medium format GFX system back in September 2016 with the promise that the “Fujifilm GFX 50S will give professional photographers the most extraordinary image quality in the history of Fujifilm”.
Time is rushing by and the first quarter of 2017 will soon commence, during when we can expect the release of the Fujifilm GFX 50S camera with 43.8 x 32.9mm 51.4 megapixel non-X-Trans sensor and three lenses initially with three more to came later in the year.
The first three GF lenses are:
GF63mmF2.8 R WR – standard prime lens equivalent to 50mm in the 35mm format.
GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR – wide-to-standard zoom lens equivalent to 25 to 51mm in 35mm format.
GF120mmF4 Macro R LM OIS WR – stabilized mid-telephoto macro prime lens equivalent to 95mm in 35mm format.
The next three GF lenses will be:
GF23mmF4 R LM WR – ultra-wide prime lens equivalent to 18mm in 35mm format.
GF45mmF2.8 R WR – wide-angle prime lens equivalent to 35mm in 35mm format.
GF110mmF2 R LM WR – wide aperture mid-telephoto prime lens equivalent to 87mm in 35mm format.
Ivan Joshua Loh
Jonas Dyhr Rask
Piet Van den Eynde
FUJIFILMglobal –Development of Professional-use Mirrorless Camera System “GFX” / FUJIFILM
Fujifilm’s History of Photographic Achievement
Fujifilm has a long history of achievements and innovations in the photographic sphere and especially in medium and large format photography.
Richard Avedon was a devotee of Fujifilm’s large format lenses for his 8″x10″ sheet film cameras and Greg Gorman relied on the Fujifilm GX 680 series as his main studio portrait cameras for some years.
I once spotted the great German-Australian photographer Helmut Newton toting a Fujica GS645 Professional on his way to a magazine portrait assignment and fell in love with that camera for the purpose, an unrequited love affair alas, as it was with other Fujica cameras due to them being hard to get outside of Japan.
I hope that the big photography and video production trade shows will be coming back to the new International Convention Centre Sydney in Darling Harbour soon – it has been far too long without them.
Camera and Lens Choices
As a magazine editorial portrait photographer, I relied on medium and large format cameras for the way they caused my subjects to quickly settle down and and start projecting to the reader via the camera and lens. That was very different to how they related to 35mm rangefinder cameras and different again to 35mm SLR cameras the few times I used them on assignment.
Just before stepping out of professional photography for a time due to extreme photochemical allergies, I had planned on rationalizing my gear with Fujica 6×4.5cm 120 roll film cameras and the GX680. A GX680 III might have been a good choice with which to enter the digital age as Fuji later introduced a digital back, the DBP for GX680, though that was reportedly only available in Japan.
The GX680 series was celebrated for its big range of top notch lenses, 17 in all with one of them a zoom lens, as well as an even larger range of accessories. Lucky owners reported that their experience of the GX680 was a little like using a small view camera, a little like using a 120 format SLR and a little like using a motor drive SLR.
From what little I have seen of using the GFX 50S, its user experience seems like something of a hybrid too, given its fealty to Fujifilm’s X-Series cameras and lenses and even, perhaps, aspects of the FinePix S5 Pro and its S-Series predecessors. We will learn more soon and I am hoping Fujifilm Australia will host a GFX 50S launch event similar to its X-T2 event earlier this year to enable some hands-on experience.
Back to my editorial portraiture experience. I would often be lucky to get not much more than fifteen minutes to meet, greet, assess, set up, light, shoot then pack up for a typical portrait session. That was a product of expectations created by other magazine and newspaper photographers’ typical modus operandi, and client requirements of three to five such assignments per day.
The challenge was to come up with enduring, insightful portraits of two basic types, a landscape aka horizontal format environmental portrait and an intense vertical format full-face portrait. If time allowed I would grab more candid shots with my Leicas. My clients rarely needed more than those two types of portraits, though, one for the article intro and often full-page and the other in the body of the article. I like some focal lengths for 1:1, prefer others for 4:3 and 3:2, and others again for 16:9.
I used a medium wide angle lens for the environmental portrait, lens stopped down for detail and camera mounted on a tripod. A medium long telephoto macro lens was perfect for the emotionally-engaging full-face portrait. I usually carried a three-light flash kit but substituted it with a single continuous light when needing to shoot in 35mm only.
Looking at Fujifilm’s 2017 GF-Series lens list, of the three to be released in the first part of the year I would choose the GF 120mm f/4 R LM OIS WR and the GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR.
The 120mm’s OIS is a real bonus for handholding close and framing tight under continuous light. The 32-64mm’s wide to standard focal range provides framing choices in tight interiors. I would stop both lenses down to f/5.6 as a matter of course, and more again with the wide end of the zoom lens for even more environmental detail if needed.
Out of the three lenses to be released mid to late 2017, the faster lenses look interesting. But, so much hinges on how the camera handles, what configuration works best for what sorts of subject matter and which genres, whether it will be handheld or tripod-mounted, and whether it will be used in available light, continuous artificial light or flash and even what aspect ratio one is shooting for.
Time will tell. Meanwhile I have fingers crossed that one of the rental studios around here may consider adding a full Fujifilm GFX 50S camera and lens kit to their equipment hire inventory.
Raw Processing and Image Editing
Right now it is impossible to predict if and when software companies making raw processors and raw-savvy image editing software will begin supporting the Fujifilm GFX 50S.
But one thing is almost guaranteed, Fujifilm will be supplying an updated version of its Raw File Convertor aka RFC software “powered by SilkyPix” as soon as the GFX 50S is released and it will be available to download and use for free.
RFC is a special edition version of a product by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory Co. Ltd, made in two regular versions, SilkyPix Developer Studio 7 and Developer Studio Pro 7. Having used neither of these the precise differences between RFC, Studio 7 and Studio Pro 7 are unclear to me but RFC is enough for my purposes given I use other raw processors and image editors as well.
Complaining about RFC is almost a cliché in the online world, and while it is true that its user interface is unlike most others’, it is reliable and powerful.
Due to Fujifilm’s special relationship with Ichikawa Soft Laboratory, RFC will always be updated to handle each new Fujifilm camera’s raw files and it will always have Fujifilm’s proprietary raw demosaicing algorithms built in.
So far the ‘GFX Challenges’ series numbers sixteen videos and I hope that more are to come, especially some featuring female photographers.
Female professional photographers are just as likely to use medium format digital camera systems as non-female pro photographers, as I can personally attest having been a professional magazine photographer as well as photography client commissioning many of the finest female and non-female photographers in the world to shoot for advertising campaigns and magazines.
Non-Australian female photographers visibly working at the top end of photography had a major effect on my decision to take up professional photography in an era when women were almost completely unknown as pro photographers here.
It was one of those then incredibly rare Australian female professionals who recruited me as a teenager into working for a wedding and portrait studio, using big, heavy, clunky analog medium format cameras and big flash units, and it was another Australian female photographer who showed me that the same subject matter could be brilliantly tackled in a different way with 35mm analog rangefinder cameras.
I owe both those Australians a debt I can never repay, and I owe the same to the great female photographers around the world who inspired me, with whom I have worked, commissioned, produced or about whom I have written.
I hope that, some day very soon, all camera and photography hardware and software companies will recognize the crucial contribution female photographers have made and continue to make to the art and craft of photography by adding equal numbers of women to their professional and ambassadorial ranks.
I cannot help but note that Fujifilm, for example, currently includes only one female photographer in its 18-strong Australian X-Photographers line-up. Surely there is more than one qualified Australian woman using Fujifilm cameras?
As of January 26, 2017, Fujifilm has released 30 GFX Challenges videos via its FUJIFILMGlobal YouTube channel, 28 of which feature male photographers and 2 of which feature female photographers.
Billy Luong, manager for Fujifilm’s Technical Marketing and Product Specialist Group, shared that: “With the GFX we had something like 50 photographers around the world using pre-production cameras.”
Does this mean that there may be more than 2 female photographers in that group?