Life is too short to settle for second best. My wife and I have been testing out a saying this year, “No second best options,” as a mantra for ourselves making life decisions. Let us all strive for what is best in life. Now, with cameras, it’s often complicated. We get involved, or more aptly put, entangled in lens systems and often habit-influenced brand loyalties, and we don’t always choose what’s at the very top of our list. Now, for sure, there are economic factors that keep us from shooting whatever we might want. If that weren’t the case, I’d be blogging about my GFX 100s, to the tune of $9-10k for one camera body and one lens. That’s a grip!

I’ve been using Canon and Fuji for the last few years, Canon mostly for my professional work, and Fuji for my personal photography. However, in the summer of 2022, I had a realization: life is too short to shoot with a camera you merely like. I used Canon for everything and trusted it for my client work. I called it a workhorse, and I relied on it. The relationship was transactional. I used the camera; it delivered images that clients liked. However, I kept using Fuji, in fact, more and more, because I simply loved how Fuji cameras – the X-T4, the X-E4, the X100v, the GFX100s, the GFX50R – rendered light. There was something delicate and fleeting in the images – something very similar to how light, if you really watch it carefully, study it, changes from moment to moment in a place, throughout the day.

The photo below is natural light, from the apartment window, which faced north. It’s soft, and the gradient behind the dog on the wall, is partly why the photo draws me in to the subject. But it’s also the shape of the chair. The tendril of a framed piece of art on the wall. The shoulder and hair of the dog’s owner, Betsy, who is sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall, while the dog sits in the chair.

Pearl. A dog I met in Newburg, NY. Fuji X100V.

I’m getting more demanding of myself as I mature – and routinely ask myself: do I love this image? Do I? Not will someone else like this image, and not will this image get a lot of likes, love or play online, but does it satisfy something artistically for me. Does the image represent what I sought to capture in the moment? So, that’s a type of accuracy to the vision or memory of the moment. But there’s something more than accuracy, which may be enough all by itself. An image that is beautiful is interesting, and that can be for a handful of reasons: it provokes curiosity, it subverts expectations, it envokes nostalgia, it confuses, it produces longing, it angers, and more.

A wood rocking chair. Chipped and abandoned. In the loft of a barn built in 1869.

This photo above works because the chipped white paint of the rocking chair pops against the dark background of the barn’s loft. But it’s also the echo of the chairs slats in its shadow on the wall. It works also because of the composition – more than half of the image is basically indecipherable blackness, and only in approximately the right third can you even make out the texture of the wood flooring. And everything in the photo is wood. And the texture is rendered not by detail, but by various levels of contrast, of light and dark.

I don’t believe that a photo, typically, tells a story. The term “storytelling” – not to be too melodramatic! – is overused and abused. Photographers may have embraced, in recent years especially along with the rise of social media, calling themselves “storytellers” and accepted the inference that an image tells a story. Stories have beginnings, middles and ends. Photos – as they represent one moment – can show one of those three, and imply others, but photos are usually limited to one point: a beginning, a middle or an end. I believe that an image should aspire to convey an emotion, on top of a moment. And that will bring the viewer in. This photo above has joy in it. From the smile, the twinkle in the eye, to the warm colors and tones.

Workshop in late afternoon sunlight.

So, we have talked about a few things that make a beautiful image, and really only one of those – how light is rendered – seems tied to shooting a specific brand of camera, in this case Fuji. Composition is universal. Good, bad, strong or weak, composition is in every photo shot by every camera brand. Emotion should be delivered in every image. Echoes or repetition can be in images from any camera brand. Light, dark, contrast – these are all elements of exposure that any image can have. So, what role does Fuji play? Why Fuji?

The stories that need to be told are not easy, not simple, and not clear. And to tell difficult, complicated, and confusing stories well, you need subtlety. And for me, I choose Fuji because of the gentle, tender nature of the way it handles light.

The images on this page speak for themselves. All taken with the Fuji X100V, summer 2022.

One response to “Why Fuji?”

  1. Orlando Santos Jr. Avatar
    Orlando Santos Jr.

    Fantastic read and incredible photos! I’m so excited to delve into Fuji. I got my hands on an X100v (had to pay $400 over retail), but nonetheless I’m excited to give it a try. Can’t wait to learn all about Fuji.

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