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4 minute read

Being More Than Just a Passerby

Photojournalist and documentary photographer, Bess Adler, tells us how she used FUJIFILM X-S10 and XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR to document post-lockdown life in New York City

Great documentary photography is all about mastering the art of preserving a decisive moment before it slips away. At the time, these moments often disappear in a flash, going completely unnoticed. But with hindsight, they can gain huge significance. With the right vision and tools, it is possible to recognize them before they happen and, in turn, document compelling stories that can both educate and engage.

“I remember from an early age being really drawn to light and important moments in history, and I always wanted to be able to interact with these moments in a way that felt like I was more than just a passerby,” explains photojournalist and documentary photographer, Bess Adler.

After picking up a camera, she quickly realized the power that was in her hands. “Since I discovered the tool of photography, making images has been a means of me exploring my core interests and values, which can range from seeing beauty, light, and human interaction to learning about issues that I find important.”

Of all the topics Bess explores with her images, those that involve people are the ones she is drawn to the most. “Stories of the human experience have always interested me. The stories of communities, the histories of communities, and how these communities interact with the world,” she explains.

Her latest project documents the activity on the streets of New York City after the Covid-19 lockdown was eased. Bess tells us that she wanted to photograph different communities around the city taking their first tentative steps back into a world full of uncertainty.

“It was an incredibly difficult experience for everyone, and you know, there was a very palpable fear and loss and struggle for several months. And so, once the rate of transmission went down and the numbers were really low, life in New York, though, different, started to feel more at ease. You know, all summer people have been in the streets, whether that meant protesting or just living, they have simply been enjoying life outside again.

“But I think there was a lingering feeling of the unknown. People were asking themselves; how much longer can we enjoy our time outside again? Is this the calm before the storm? Will there be a second wave? So, with these images, I wanted to understand how people were living their lives in this in-between time.”

Bess used X-S10 paired XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS for the project and tells us that the camera’s intuitive controls combined perfectly with the versatility of the zoom lens.

“X-S10 was great, I found it to be really intuitive. I loved the dials and the feeling of the grip was really nice, plus the quality of the images was really rich,” she reveals. “And the zoom was especially helpful at this time where people don’t necessarily feel comfortable being that close to each other. It helped me to be respectful.”

She also praised X-S10’s autofocus, which is capable of speeds as fast as 0.02 seconds and is precise right down to -7EV*. Bess specifically remembers photographing the Ruth Bader Ginsburg memorial in the evening where, despite the very low light, X-S10 excelled. “If a moment passes by, and I have to be really quick, and the camera doesn’t focus, then it’s gone, you know? I can’t get that moment back. For every image in this project, the focus was there. I didn’t have to worry about it with X-S10.”

Throughout the project, Bess used only the PRO Neg. Hi Film Simulation mode and, although she usually photographs in RAW, she was very impressed with the JPEG results that the 26.1 megapixel back-side illuminated X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor was capable of creating in-camera.

“It was a great exercise in trusting myself to use JPEG format. The files coming straight out of the camera were incredibly rich in color and tone. It also helped keep a uniform feel to create a thread throughout the images – especially as I was photographing different scenes at different times of day,” she explains.

Bess Adler uses FUJIFILM X-S10 to document post-lockdown life in New York City. People gather for a memorial for Ruth Bader Ginsburg in New York, New York on September 19, 2020.

Photo © Bess Adler | FUJIFILM X-S10 camera and XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR lens, 1/40 sec at F4.7, ISO 4000

With its small and lightweight body maintaining such a substantial grip, as well as such intuitive and fully customizable controls, Bess feels that X-S10 is a great introduction for anyone new to mirrorless. And more specifically, those who want to hit the ground running with the unique FUJIFILM X Series system.

“It’s a really easy transition for somebody that’s using a DSLR and wants to switch to mirrorless. Especially the grip and how compact it is, I think people will be really happy with that,” she says.

“I just think it’s cool that this camera could potentially open up the FUJIFILM system to a whole new group of people. When you join the FUJIFILM family, you become part of a community of image makers, and that’s really exciting.”

FUJIFILM X-S10 is coming soon to your nearest FUJIFILM Authorized Dealer. Learn more and read the full specifications here.

*When XF50mmF1.0 R WR lens is attached.


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