6 minute read

Behind the Camera

Strip the sheen from these BTS featurettes and you’ll discover the heart of David Geffin’s technique: chic authenticity, impeccably realized with X-H2S

“It comes from a place of not knowing what I want, at least in the precise sense of the word. I just have to delve beneath the surface and reveal that quintessential essence – that beauty.”

For the past ten years, David Geffin has trained his stills camera to the beats and pulsations of New York’s vibrant street life, crafting glossy video content for a variety of prominent brands. He’s traveled extensively – producing a breadth of photo and film – but fashion has been his primary focus.

The expressions of gorgeous vogue models have occupied his frames, carefully posed in extravagant garments and luxurious accessories. Ostensibly, he’s revealed sleek depictions of a sumptuous world, but look a little closer and you’ll notice something beyond the superficial.

“Most don’t appreciate the craziness,” he begins. “I worked in and amongst the fashion sphere for almost a decade. High-profile events, with huge numbers of personnel backstage. It was my job to find the composition in all that chaos. That might be easy to say when I’m pointing a camera at beautiful people, but I think there’s more to it than just that.”

Accustomed to the hustle and bustle, a certain kind of madness instilled David with a penchant for managing large-scale projects amidst highly pressurized circumstances – often on the other side of the camera. Combining his abilities with this experience and know-how, he was recently appointed to head up the rollout of BTS materials for X-H2S and its ensuing launch.

Managing this content for ten separate FUJIFILM Creators, David produced an array of informative short films, exploring the creative process of each individual.

“I was contacted by Fujifilm’s Electronic Imaging Division last year. We spoke extensively about this release schedule, and the best way to manage the materials. I was nervous, but I think that was just a demonstration of how much I cared. I didn’t know what was going to happen, or how this would turn out. The creative freedom was a pressure, but also pushed me in positive ways.

“We eventually agreed on an emotion-first approach… constructing the films around nuanced interplay. It had to be humanistic, with the narratives coming first. It was here that I started thinking back to some of my earliest inspirations.”

Producing externally striking images is a given in the commercial sector, but David’s concerns run far deeper. For this series, the central message was informed by a commitment to emotionality – something he fell in love with at a very early age.

“As a youngster, I’d watch movies, wondering what it would be like to get involved in building them. That was my dream – being a part of the visual medium, particularly with regards to filmmaking.

“Steven Spielberg was massive at the time. ET moved me to tears, and Jaws had such a visceral impact on my life. Being drawn into that story-centric, emotive universe was what I really enjoyed. Now I’m the one eliciting responses for an audience, creating the same sensations that roused my childhood self.”

Reorienting his approach wasn’t entirely new. Prior to image making, David worked for a construction consultancy firm, building environments for educational establishments in the public and private sectors. Attuned to reinvention, he’d also been a civil servant in his London hometown, prior to his relocation and eventual founding of a media LLC in the Empire State.

“When I incorporated the business, I decided to give myself a year to see how it panned out. My background definitely helped, but I still had these inner battles,” he remembers. “They’re intangible – you’re figuring it out as you go. You wonder if it will lead to anything fruitful, but it’s not always about that. It’s about the love.”

David’s determination led to a successful enterprise. Recognizing the significance of his persistence, this X-H2S project represented an opportunity to give back. Like the emergent creatives documented for this rollout, David was once in a comparable position. Now, he wanted to play a role in platforming a new generation of talent.

“I’m so grateful that I got to connect with such an amazing bunch. We’ve crafted something that’s meaningful, shining a light on those photographers and filmmakers who are rising, yet haven’t had many opportunities to demonstrate their voices.

“Underdog stories… I think they resonate with me most, because of how far I’ve come.”

When it comes to his own inspiration, David draws on the all-time greats – in particular, the minimalist NY school popularized by industry giants like Richard Avedon. The timelessness of his style and substance resonated for years, and taught David an important lesson.

“Avedon was a man of moments. Many hated him at the time he was working… they thought it was purely a sensationalist method,” he explains. “He used this psychological technique – creating perfectly shaped moments, just before the shutter press. He influenced people in a very fastidious, methodical way. I don’t provoke confrontation, but that sense of rawness and immediacy is the energy I want to infuse my art with.”

Driving at the nucleus of what makes his subjects tick, David adopts an Avdenon-esque approach, but communicating the essence of each individual requires patience and prudence.

“It’s like fishing. You have to wait and coax, dangle the bait, then seize the right moment. It’s all about the encouragement to take that first bite,” he says. “From there on, it’s simple.”

With X-H2S, David discovered his perfect apparatus. On top of endorsing those utilizing the camera for their various works, David filmed all ten BTS featurettes with exactly the same equipment.

“It’s just a beautiful system. The condition of the image is fantastic, and when you pair that with good glass, it’s honestly superb.”

Pairing it with MKX 18-55mm and MKX 50-135mm, an enhanced rolling shutter made all the difference when operating in fast-paced environments, as did improved AF resources. Ceaselessly moving, he needed a system to assuage his technical worries, but also facilitate the application of what mattered most: the execution of his original vision.

“Being able to create these different flavors of internal ProRes is crazy – especially for such a small, mirrorless rig. I did all of the color grading for these videos in Resolve, and the dynamic range was really impressive,” he says. “I didn’t run any noise reduction whatsoever. I just didn’t think we needed to – even in low light.

“Color science is insane, as are the 14.5 stops with F-Log 2. The 6.2k is really useful for mastering – especially when you need to punch-in and not lose resolution. It renders a higher fidelity to the overall image. You end up with these amazing pictures. It’s a misconception to think that you’ll need to engage in extensive post-production. You just have to make sure you’re exposing for shadows. The X-H2S is very filmic in that sense.”

Grinding tirelessly to deliver an insider’s glimpse into the nuts-and-bolts tenets of a typical Fujifilm project, David’s efforts are a crucial aspect of our brand and its outreach. Asked to characterize the crux of those stories, one term stuck throughout our exchange – embodying both the outlook and outcome of his achievement.

“Candid beauty,” David remarks. “That’s what I always aim for.”

A man stands with an X-H2S in a dusty field of grass

Photo 2022 © John Stambaugh | FUJIFILM X-H2S and XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR, 1/100 sec at F2.8, ISO 800


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