Street photographer Matt Hart tells us why he ditched DSLRs for the Fujifilm X system in the second part of our series
I’m what you’d call a candid street photographer. I don’t, generally, shoot people when they know I’m looking at them. Funnily enough, my main line of work is shooting events, where I’m always talking to people, interacting, getting them to pose in a certain way; but on the street it’s the complete opposite – I don’t talk, don’t make eye contact, nothing.
Basically, I’ve shot film all my life, and when I changed over to digital, I found DSLRs to be too big and bulky for my work. Also, when I was going out shooting street photography, the cameras were so large that I was getting noticed.
When I shoot my event work, I was just getting worn out as I was lugging all this kit around. I’m not getting any younger, so carrying around huge DSLRs and the massive kit that goes with them became a problem. So I changed over to the Fujifilm X-system basically for size, and then found out how brilliant they actually were.
I shoot a lot with the Fujifilm X100T and I love that camera. It obviously has a fixed lens equivalent to 35mm roughly, but if I’m using other Fujifilm cameras like the X-T1 or X-T10 for street, I use either the XF35mm F1.4 (50mm equivalent) or the new XF16mm F1.4 (24mm equivalent) so I’ve got one to get me in a little bit closer and one to give me a wider view.
Coming from a film background you’d think that my favourite element about the X100T would be the hybrid optical viewfinder, but I just love the rear screen. To be able to see what you’re doing all the time without putting the camera to your eye is great.
The X-T1 is perfect for street photography because of three key factors: the tilting screen, its speedy shooting, and its small size. People don’t recognise it as a professional-looking camera either, which makes it perfect for the kind of photography I like to do.
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Matt’s top street tips
Blend in. I like to go out and look quite miserable. I like to keep a poker face, walking around not smiling at anyone, not making eye contact with anyone. It helps me blend into the background. As soon as you’re happy and jolly out on the street, smiling at people, they notice you.
Low profile. I also keep my cameras out of sight. As soon a people see a camera, they notice you. So I try to keep my kit below eye level at about waist height, and then look for my subject before bringing the camera up to shoot.
Change location. I like to go to different towns. If you’re a street photographer and you shoot in the same town, everyone starts to get to know you. Although, on the other hand, this can be a benefit sometimes: you can start blending in so much, it may even get to the point where people just ignore you – you just become a part of the furniture.
Fast lenses. One thing that’s really a requirement, though, is a fast aperture. I don’t shoot all the way at f/1.4; I generally keep it around f/2. However, that f/1.4 aperture gives you so much more latitude for when it gets darker in the evenings.
These tips came from Matt during his workshop at the Fujifilm X-perience day at the AP offices. Attendees had the chance to shoot with a host of Fujifilm kit under the expert guidance of Matt and fellow X-Photographers Paul Sanders and Damien Lovegrove. If you’d like to attend future events, please email email@example.com