I guess we all struggle to get the work life balance right and being a full time self employed Photographer the work life balance can go right out of the window ! I have always had a big problem saying no to work and this year has been no exception. I expected after finishing working with Fujifilm UK in February things would go quiet and I could look forward to just planning my own workshops and time away for Jane and I. I soon worked out its not quite that simple. The downside to our lifestyle at the moment is Jane works for the NHS and has mostly weekends off and I work most weekends so we don’t see much of each other at times, so we get used to quite a lot of time apart.
The long term plan is now starting to fall in to place even though there is hardly any free time on this years year planner at the moment. I have now finished my Wex Photographic 2018 commitment and at last I am free to start planning 2019. I will still take on the odd days from some of the big companies like Wex and some of the other great shops like Wilkinsons, just not as many days as before.
It was mentioned a few times on Social media this week that I had moved over to work with Canon now I had left Fujifilm. I will put the record straight right here and now, I am not with Canon. This October I plan to be semi-retired so I will not be signing any contracts with anyone. I am still involved with Gnarbox as the only UK member of the Gnarbox Pro Team but my commitment to the team is minimal and also fits in very nicely with my future travel plans so will not hold me back from my work life balance goals.
If you read my blog you will know that I bought the Canon G7x because my Fujifilm Cameras got locked in the Wex Glasgow store by accident a few weeks back and I needed to get a camera from Argos early on a Sunday morning so it was an impulse purchase but has turned out to be one of the best little pocket cameras I have ever owned. The sensor is only one inch so its not as good as my Fujifilm X Series cameras but with its 24-100mm Equivalent fast Zoom its so much better than my iphone as an every day pocket camera.
I work most weeks teaching with the Fujifilm X100F and the X70 and these are just the best tools for me teaching Street Photography. When I go off on Landscape Trips or teach Landscape I take the GFX System as that is the right tool for me for Landscapes and I also have the XPro2 for Street and Landscape with a selection of lenses.
I do have a few Canon Cameras and these are all for Shooting Video and they are the C100mk2 the 200D and the 5DMK4 and and a selection of lenses. I have some future Film plans and needed a camera system that was tried and tested.
The beauty of not having a contract with any brand is that I don’t have to stick to one set of tools and can use the best tools for the job ! Fujifilm make the cameras I need for all my Stills work and Canon for my Video the little G7x is just an exception to the rule, its great for video but also just so much fun to take stills with.
This weekend I got a very rare chance to get away in my Camper with Jane for a couple of days and decided not to take any camera gear. I did however take the G7x with me as a back up to my iphone ! Its light, fits in my pocket and the battery lasts all day and even if I do need to charge it I can just plug it in my powerbank !
This weekend was a time to reflect and its great to find a campsite that has no phone reception to get away from it all for a couple of days. We love Cae Du Campsite its just one of the most quiet and peaceful sites in Wales and perfect to get away from it all. I have a long term and short term plan and at times in this job you just cant see the wood for the trees. I have now had time to reflect and put the next four years in to some order.
My new workshops are online here and I will be putting a few more online over the next few months, these will be workshops I have designed to help people who already know how to use a camera, to discover more about the art of taking pictures.
I also have a new business plan that will come in to action next March at my end of year, so all going well I should have lots more time to do what I want to do and that is travel and explore with Jane. This will at last redress my work life balance ! I hope.
I will leave you with a few images taken over the weekend with the little Canon G7X in and around Beddgellert.
Its been a very busy few years and I have not had a decent relaxing break for quite a while. I have just taken a week off and was only 60 miles from my front door in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. Jane said to me half way through the week “you have hardly been on your phone this week” I guess I am learning! It’s no good going away to Scotland and driving 600miles and not unloading the clutter in my mind by being on Social Media all the time or answering all the emails. So staying close to home saved me a lot of driving and allowed me to really relax.
Working in the Photography industry is a bit full on at times, if you are not marketing you are planning or on Social Media and this can take over your life.
Whilst away I decided on my 5 year plan and am now going to stick to it for a change. I have about 14 more workshops to do for Wex Photographic and then a few other jobs to complete before October 2018. I will then semi retire. I plan to fully retire in 2022 not that Photographers ever retire we just have more time to be creative.
I will cut my workload in half from October 2018 and start to take photos for me and begin to explore the five elements that make a great image( Light, Composition, Moment, Amazing Subject & Emotional Impact). I want to focus on image making as this is so important to me.
I have put together a new series of workshops just to keep me going until 2022. I don’t think I can sit around for the next four years, so I might as well get out there and teach what I love. These workshops will explore the five elements but have nothing to do with gear and technology. I also plan to put more time in to my YouTube channel to let you know about the creative process, this will also focus on my image making thought process.
Its amazing how taking a really good break from reality can focus the mind. I walked over 58 miles last week and only took my Fujifilm X100F with me. This transported me back to the day I bought my very first X100 ! Its the reason I moved over to Fujifilm from Nikon and the reason I fell in love with the X Series ! The X70 and the X100F are two of the best in the Fujifilm range by far. The GFX50 is the King but it’ not exactly portable but is the best tool in the toolbox !
Spending a week with the X100F made me relax and enjoy my photography again so much so that I was thinking about selling most of my Fujifilm gear and just keeping that one camera. I still have some work to do with my GFX and three projects to finish and its far too amazing a camera to sell, so the GFX will be staying and so will my X70 and my Xpro2 as that’s one of my Personalised Camera Bodies that Fujifilm gave to me in recognition of my hard work. I think the rest of the lenses and bodies might have to go, not that I have much left as I had a good clear out to buy the GFX last year.
I think I will end up with the GFX50s,X100F,X70,Xpro2 but will probably only use the X100F / X70 most of the time.
One thing I did think about a lot when I was away on holiday was the obsession with gear amongst photographers and this is why I wrote This . It drives me mad watching people buying tons and tons of gear thinking it will make them a better Photographer ! If I make a YouTube video on ‘Gear’ I get 60,000+ hits, if I make one about the creative process I get a few hundred. It’s the same with Workshops, if I do a workshop for one of the brands everyone wants to book on it, but if its about creativity no one is interested and think they can learn it all from YouTube ! I wish it was that simple. You can learn from YouTube but it’s only when you go on a real physical workshop and sit and talk to other people does the real learning start. The more time you spend with a camera in your hand around like minded people the better your work will become. I have seen hundreds of people tell me how they learn from youtube. Most of these people have tons of gear and their image making process is just a bad template of the person they have been watching and they are stuck in the YouTube cycle of looking but not learning.
I was tempted to go down the YouTube route to teach as well for myself and Fujiholics but have decided it would not be the fair or right thing to do.
There are hundreds of people jumping on workshops as teachers but most are doing it for the wrong reasons. If they don’t have passion and it’s all about the money it really does show, so choose wisely !
Photography is a life long learning curve and we all go through diferent stages as we progress, there are no short cuts. I am lucky as I started at 8 years old and have had a lifetimes experience so can now look forward to really exploring whats out there for me and passing on my knowledge !
So it’s time for me to de clutter my mind and my camera cupboard and start to explore the next stages of my Photography journey ! I am starting a series of workshops that will be available on my Eventbrite page very soon. These workshops are designed to give Photographers that have mastered their cameras the information they need to take the the next step up the ladder ! I am sure most people new to photography or even Photographers that have been at it for years get stuck in the gear cycle and keep buying more and more gear to hopefully inspire them to take better photos but always end up disappointed and chopping and changing brands etc to get that amazing image. Its almost like being in a constant loop of disappointment. YouTube does not always help as you end up watching a YouTube video and then have a list of new clutter to buy ! This just puts you back in the sales funnel but does not help you !
There are some great YouTube channels and the one I like at the moment is Sean Tucker
I hope to use my Photography experience gained over the last 40+ years, to pass on some great advice. This will be through a series of workshops that will take place over the next four years exploring what to look for and how to create some great images. This should then give you all the tools you need to get out and create your own work without the need for more and more gear. I will then bring the regular workshops to a close.
I will then retire in 2022 but will update my YouTube channel about once a month and do a couple of talks or workshops a year just to hopefully inspire people to take the next steps in the journey and get of the gear loop !
So if you want to de clutter and want to get off the gear loop I will see you on a future workshop.
2017 has been my year of Colour project and it’s not over yet !
It finishes on the 31st of December and I cant wait, I have only taken a hand full of black and white images and they were taken over the last month or so. I feel like a sprinter stuck in the starting blocks for 9 months ! I think in a way it’s a good thing as I am bursting with black and white creativity I want to get out of my system.
As for colour ! I never really have liked colour and on my recent trip to Scotland I had some time stuck in my camper on the really bad weather days to reflect on the Year of Colour project so far. I started the year hating colour and I will be ending the year really hating color ! I was hoping to come out of this year with a colour style as well as more understanding of colour. I do have a better understanding but the colour style is a sticking point.
I understand that every day light is diferent and even the weather the light and the time of day has a bearing on the scene, so shooting on Auto colour balance will give you a neutral look but it won’t give you the consistency within the dynamic range.
I am a very lazy editor and only want to spend 3-6 min per image in Lightroom or Snapseed and one thing I know I should like but don’t is presets ! I don’t understand why I don’t like them I just don’t and I think the only way I could get colour consistency and style would be to start making presents. The downside to presets for me is the fact I use quite a few diferent camera bodies with different sensors so I would have to make a preset for each sensor and I really get fed up when the preset makes all the wrong changes and I then have to spend longer fixing the issue. So I don’t use presents and I don’t think I want to !
My black and white work for the last 10 years has all been without a single preset and just processed by eye, it’s all very consistent and apart from the blacks getting deeper with the mood of the scene or my mood they just seem to work !
I am not sure I will pursue colour in to 2018 but if I do I think I need to start to learn Colour Grading for Style ! The downside to this is every film ever made is colour graded for that style of film ! So for me to colour grade and try and find a unique colour style is a pain in the arse ! It used to be so much easier with Film !
You might have noticed there were quite a few rainbows in Scotland this month !
I have just sold quite a few cameras and lenses and started to reduce my Fujifilm kit to make way for possibly the GFX50s but am still deciding. However I have now brought an XT20 and sold my X-T2. The X-T2 was great but I just do not need it anymore because I am stopping shooting events. The X100F and the X-T20 and the XPro2 work so well together and do have more consistency as they all have the same sensor so I might look in to Colour Style over the next three months and give you more details at the end of the project. I know this combination of cameras works so who knows.
I do feel at the moment I will be returning to Black and White next year, but we shall see.
I have lent out a lot of personal Fujifilm kit over the last five years and the result has always been some love hate relationships and personal battles with the kit. I always find this very interesting. I remember my first time with the X100 and how it wound me up no end that the sensor was giving me better black and white images than my Nikon D3s but how hard it was to get used to the camera and menus. Most of all the focus system was hard work and so much more. This all made me question my choice but the images spoke for themselves ! It felt like a toy camera compared to the mighty D3s ! But who cared about the feel when the images were just so great …
On a recent trip to Edinburgh I was having a facebook conversation with a friend who had brought an X100T on my recommendation for her Street Photography. She hated it out of the box and many times I looked at her comments on social media saying how she wanted to get rid of it. One day it was driving her nuts the next it was fine. I could see the personal battle taking place this Marmite camera was tearing this girl apart !
She even asked me when the XPro2 was out and then the X-T2 and the X-T20 but all the time she went out shooting with the X100T. On this trip to Edinburgh she messaged me and said ” I love this camera Matt I really do, but it’s taken me 18 months to make it work for me” I laughed and said I know ! I said to her the problem with the X100 series is you have to adapt your style to the camera and no one can help you with that. It’s up to you to decide on every setting from Jpeg to focus mode. You can’t just look up what other people do on the internet or blogs you just have to go out every day and have a personal battle with the camera and almost fight over who is in change !
I have taught over 200 workshops over the last two years and so many people come on the workshops who have the same battle not just with the X100 series but some of the other Fujifilm models.
I was talking with another friend tonight who has my X-T10 and she said I am getting there but I am having a love hate relationship with this camera ! I just laughed and said I know…
I would say 99.9% of the people that have this battle win and they fall in love with the X Series Camera system. I know a few people who have lost the battle and gone back to their chosen brand. I have noticed one thing though, the people that battle on don’t just learned how to adapt to a new camera system their work changes for the better too.
I think the the personal battle teaches them more than just how to use a new camera it makes them look at the way they work as well. It’s all too easy to pick up a DSLR out of the box and go out and shoot on auto, it’s not so easy to use the X100 you have to start to understand your craft more and in doing so your work improves.
Quite a few people love the way the X Series slowed them down at the start but then became frustrated by that very fact ! Fujifilm responded to customer feedback and have made the XPro2 and X-T2 but you still have to know what you are doing to get the best out of these cameras. You can use them out of the box on Auto now but once you really learn how to set them up you take a great big step up on your photography journey.
The shame is that most people just look at these cameras on the internet or for a few minutes in a shop ! They never get to use them for 12-18 months and so never get to experience love hate battle and that is such a shame. So many people don’t like change but I think that is where the X100F comes in. You can buy it as a back up camera and take it everywhere. Some days you will want to throw it in the river or bin some days you will want to hug it and kiss it ( possibly a bit far ) but when you look at those images you know you have an amazing bit of kit in your hands that you can stick in your pocket and take everywhere ! Take the X100F challenge buy one or borrow one and see how you get on, then come back on here in 18 months and leave a comment.
I have always taken quite a lot of camera gear with me on holiday and it’s become a habit that I have struggled to quit, until now.
With the Fujifilm X System the kit is so much less than DSLR gear, but it’s still quite a lot of gear once you add an extra body, a tripod, some filters etc. I have noticed over the last few trips I don’t use it as much as I did. You guys know me for my black and white Street work but I still love my landscape. The downside to Landscape is all the gear you tend to pack. I also am not a fan of over processed Landscape work as I like to capture the world as I see it and not chop and change things around in Photoshop so have always packed lots of filters and a tripod. This is a personal choice and there is nothing wrong with people who create amazing Landscape in PS I just prefer to keep my Landscape work as real as my Street.
The last break Jane and I had, I just put the Fujifilm X100F in my pocket and went on holiday. Crazy I know and as I drove off I nearly turned round to go get all the gear but stuck with my gut and went for it.
I had the best break and took a few shots to remind me of the break and decided from that moment on to just take one camera and one lens away with me when not working.
On our recent trip to North Yorkshire I decided to take the X100F again and this time I managed to capture a few Landscape shots and have suddenly fallen back in love with the beauty of our Landscape and the simplicity of a single camera in my pocket. It was bliss to be able to walk for miles and miles without tons of gear.
I then remembered why I changed to the Fujifilm X System, to keep things simple and to keep the weight down. You soon get caught up in having to take so much gear with you to take photos but really it is all just down to the 6″ behind the viewfinder not all the gear you have in the bag. You can create amazing Long Exposure effects without your filters and tripod etc but I have found this was holding me back from walking further and exploring all the amazing hills and mountains like I used to.
I did have a chuckle to myself half way down the track from Malham Cove when a guy passed me with a huge camera bag full of gear and massive Tripod strapped to his back with sweat pouring off his face. Jane even looked at me and said “He looks like he is having a great day!”
I can safely say I have just had one of the most relaxing holiday in ages and one of the reasons was not having to decide every day what camera and lens I was going to put in what bag and what tripod or filters I was going to take with me.
I really cant wait for my next trip out now, to go and explore our amazing countryside with the X100F keeping it as simple as possible.
I get asked quite a lot “what is best the X100F or the Xpro2 ?” I always find this an interesting question because I don’t quite know why I am being asked the question !
I dont think people want to know what camera I prefer, I think they want to know what one I would recommend they buy ! To find out what would be the best camera for the other person I would need to know so much more about them and their photography. So I will answer this question as if it was directed to me.
I am not that worried about the bells and whistles that are thrown at modern cameras I just want the exposure triangle on the outside of the camera and I want to be able to use it quickly without putting too much thought in to it or digging into the menus.
I do love the rangefinder style because I am a right eye shooter, so with the rangefinder my nose is not squashed on the back of the camera and 9 times out of 10 no one knows where you are pointing a rangefinder !
I am also not that worried about the viewfinder or the rear screen as I need glasses these days for close up work so don’t spend a lot of time using either. If I do use the viewfinder or rear screen it’s just to compose the image so it can be all blurry as long as I can see the composition.
The main difference between the X100F and the XPro2 is the fact it has interchangeable lenses and in all honesty this is the one deciding factor the rest is almost irrelevant.
But I am lucky as I have both cameras.
One thing I must point out is that for Event work I also use the Fujifilm X-T2 and the main reason is for balance the Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 and battery grip with extra battery capacity for a long day shooting is just perfect. I will still use the X100F and XPro2 on the day just to have a variety of lenses with me at all times within easy reach.
At the moment when I am teaching Street photography I just use the X100F.
When I am out shooting in the UK on my own at the moment I use two X100F bodies, one with the fixed 23mm and one with the Fujifilm WCL-X100 Wide conversion lens.
The XPro2 stays at home, so in a way I have answered the question.
I moved away from Nikon to be able to lighten my load and enjoy my day out shooting and over the last 6 years I have only used the Fujifilm system and got to know it very well. In that time the X100 has come a long way and the X100F is now everything I need in an everyday camera for shooting Street, its got a great sensor and exposure triangle on top and the autofocus is now as fast as I need it to be. I used to Zone focus the X100 and X100s and even the X100T to get the results I needed but the X100F has such a great AF system I dont need to use Zone focus for anything anymore. I guess the only time would be in low light or awkward situations and in that case I would just switch to M and back button focus.
When out shooting Street my only consideration now is, is it moving if so switch to C (continuous AF) is is stationary switch to S (single AF)
I like the camera to do all the work for me so I set the camera in to Auto ISO with the following settings – Default Sensitivity 200, Max.Sensitivity 6400, Min. Shutter Speed 1/250 sec.
This set up is basically the same for the X100F and the XPro2 except I alter the Min Shutter speed to suit the lens I have on the camera for the XPro2.
For me the X100F is my Desert Island camera, and this camera now goes with me everywhere I go its the first camera I pack for any trip. One great thing about a fixed lens camera is the fact there is no sensor cleaning so that is a big bonus.
I have adapted the way I shoot to suit the X100F and I think this is important, I see so many people moaning online about the fact a camera has not go this or it has not got that and the biggest moan about the X100F is the fact it does not have a tilting screen ! When it first came out I even thought thats a shame, after using the X70 and all the others with tilting screens I did wonder but now I get it. Why do we keep wanting more and more and more this is why the DSLR’s got so big ! besides the XPro2 does not have a tilting screen.
I love the freedom of the X100F and if I have to pick one camera from the Fujifilm range this would be it.
So what about the Xpro2 ? Its water resistant and it is slightly faster on AF and it has interchangeable lenses, so it’s far better than the X100F and if I travel anywhere out of the UK it comes with me, also for assignments I use the X100F and the XPro2 with a longer lens on to give me something wide and something long to be able to capture the moment no matter where it happens.
I love my XPro2 and in the Fujifilm range it comes up as my favorite camera but it also annoys me because it gives me lens choice ! The Fujifilm lenses are all so good you then end up taking the XPro2 and 3 or 4 lenses with you and you only ever use one ! So it puts more weight in your bag is counter productive.
The XPro2 is perfect for travel and perfect for assignments and just about anything but when it comes down what one I prefer based on weight, size, portability etc the X100F wins hands down.
We all want diferent things from our cameras and Fujifilm have an amazing range of bodies and lenses now and I love to use them all but the X100F is still my desert Island Camera.
As quite a few people know I am changing the format of my workshops in 2018 so if anyone wants to take part in the present format, please choose one of my Street Photography Workshops from the list below.
This is the format for 2017.
The workshops will encourage debate about Street Photography and help the participants to be more critical about their work.
The workshops are suitable for professional and amateur photographers of all levels. We ask you to familiarise yourself with using your camera and learn how to change settings quickly before attending the day, this will enable you to enjoy the experience fully.
The day will start at 10.30am and conclude at 16.30pm with a break for lunch and plenty of comfort breaks throughout the day, most of the day will be out on the streets. There is a lot of walking during the day and the event may take place in inclement weather so come prepared.
You will spend the day with myself exploring the streets picking up tricks and tips on my style of Street Photography throughout the day. My Street photography workshops and courses are fun, informative and relaxed. They are both challenging and highly enjoyable and designed to stretch your imagination.
I uses the Fuji X100F and XPro2 with a 35mm or 16mm Prime lens.
You can bring any DSLR or mirrorless camera on this course; fixed lens compacts are also welcome. If you are wondering what lenses to bring 50mm is ideal for full frame and 35mm film uses. APSC size sensors 35mm is ideal or lenses around the normal focal length.
The day normally starts at 10.30am with a coffee introductions and a discussion about the day. We will touch on the ethics and law and how to deal with challenges in this area.
Next we will discuss camera set up for the day and the best set up for street photography with a practical demonstration of street camera technique.
Matt will cover what Street Photography is, and show you some of his favourite Street Photographers images. He will also show you the best way to approach his style of Street photography.
We normally spend around two hours covering these subjects then around 12.30am we head straight out on to the streets where you can watch the way Matt works and try out some of the tips and tricks that he shares with you.
We break for lunch around 1.30pm where we can find a quiet place for a snack to discuss the mornings work and share our experiences.
We then go back out on the streets to practice your new street techniques and try and find your street rhythm and look for some interesting characters or great light!
We stay out shooting until about 4pm, we then find a quiet place to sit as a group to discuss the day and this will include lessons learnt. Matt will share his processing techniques and preferred software. Matt will give you his views on Critique and show you how to review your own work.
I know the majority of you guys that read my blogs and attend my workshops are Fujifilm users but for all you that have other brands of camera please feel free to book on any of these workshops as all camera brands are more than welcome.
Here are the available dates left this year, please click on the dates for availability:
These will be the last Street Photography Workshops in this format at this price.
I have some interesting ideas for Locations and Styles of Workshops for next year, these workshops will be a little more complex so require a lot more planning.
I will advertise the 2018 Workshops around about October time.
I will be leading the Fujiholics Photowalks in London, Edinburgh and Bristol this year so make sure you sign up before all the places are gone. We have over 350 people signed up for London already.
Hope to see some of you on a Free Walk or Workshop and if you are a Fujifilm shooter then our new Facebook group might be for you here.