This website uses cookies. By using the site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy.

4 minute read

Cracking the Code

Fred Agho’s journey towards raising awareness on code switching

Fred Agho’s introduction to photography came about a bit unexpectedly. While shooting some images at his Houston high school in Texas for a friend on the school’s yearbook committee, Fred began to observe the power of photography. He’d always enjoyed making pictures, even around the house snapping pics of his mom and her friends, but it hadn’t ever felt like it could be a career option. Yet.

Fred’s first real camera was a FUJIFILM FinePix, but he quickly upgraded to a DSLR as he continued to explore and learn about photography. On the road with his football team while in college, Fred brought his camera along to commemorate the time he spent with them. “It was my last year of playing college football and we were doing a lot of traveling and I just wanted to document it all,” he says.

Fred’s foray into professional photography began as a side gig while he juggled a job, attended college, and cared for his daughter, Milan. He was pursuing a teacher certification to begin working his way up to becoming a school principal. During a stint as a substitute teacher, Fred realized that his photography side job was what brought him the most joy, and he was willing to risk a steady, stable role in education to truly achieve his goal of becoming a professional photographer. As Fred states, “that’s when I realized I loved photography more than I loved a steady check.” Whether his role was in education or photography, it was clear Fred’s passion was advocating for people; making sure they were able to express themselves and be heard.

Heavily leaning on his faith, Fred made the decision to focus on becoming a full-time photographer. He linked up with Houston-area photographer, Jamaal Ellis, who showed him the ins and outs of the business.

“He was my first mentor,” says Fred. “I’m forever grateful for that.” In time, he landed a role capturing images for InDmix, a website that covers the social scene in greater Houston. “Ikem Onyekwena at InDmix gave me my first full-time photography job, which really allowed me to grow as a photographer,” says Fred.

One of Fred’s most recent projects is called White Sands: Am I The Only One. Through this project, Fred wanted to show the isolation of people of color in their places of work.

“My friends of color expressed to me that the common workplace does not reflect them or any aspects of their culture,” says Fred. “They feel like they have to present a version of themselves at all times that isn’t true to who they are.” 

This process is known as ‘code switching,’ which according to the Harvard Business Review, ‘involves adjusting one’s style of speech, appearance, behavior, and expression in ways that will optimize the comfort of others in exchange for fair treatment, quality service, and employment opportunities.’

“My friends of color expressed to me that the common workplace does not reflect them or any aspects of their culture. They feel like they have to present a version of themselves at all times that isn’t true to who they are”

The backdrop of the White Sands National Park in New Mexico was chosen intentionally to illustrate the isolation felt by people of color in corporate environments, as well as the “climbing through sand” feeling they get when trying to ascend the corporate ladder, and the resulting frustration of those feelings.

During the shoot, one of the cameras Fred used was the FUJIFILM X-T4. “The X-T4 is an X-T3 on steroids. You can tell Fujifilm has truly figured it out,” he says. “The camera’s autofocus is blazingly fast and the buttons are very tactical. For this shoot, I paired the X-T4 with the XF16-55mm lens, which has great contrast, and the ability to compose photos at different focal lengths was great.”

“The X-T4 is an X-T3 on steroids. You can tell Fujifilm has truly figured it out. The camera’s autofocus is blazingly fast and the buttons are very tactical”

He also spent time shooting on-site in the white sand dunes with the FUJIFILM GFX 50R. “The GFX 50R paired with the GF110mm lens is a masterpiece. The depth-of-field produced with that lens is crazy. For a camera with a sensor that big, the face autofocus is spot on,” says Fred. 

“The GFX 50R paired with the GF110mm lens is a masterpiece. The depth-of-field produced with that lens is crazy”

The shoot made Fred a FUJIFILM GFX system convert. “The colors you can achieve with those medium format files are amazing,” he enthuses. “Shooting with the GFX system feels like making art; the process is slower and you have to be more intentional with your photo-making process. It’s now my daily camera.” 

When looking back on his journey into the world of photography, Fred feels grateful he chose this path as opposed to the also respectable athletic or education paths that were on his horizon. “Photography gave me purpose outside of sports,” says Fred. “I got caught up in, ‘Oh, you’re a big guy so if you don’t use your size to make money you’re a failure.’ Photography gave me something else to strive to be great at.”

What’s in Fred’s Bag?

FUJIFILM X-T4

Number of Effective Pixels
26.1 megapixels
Image Sensor
X-Trans CMOS 4 with primary color filter
Lens Mount
FUJIFILM X Mount
Image Stabilizer
Yes
Continuous Shooting Electronic Shutter
Approx 30fps
Continuous Shooting Mechanical Shutter
Approx 15fps
Dimensions
134.6x92.8x63.8mm
Weight
Approx 607g

FUJIFILM GFX 50R

Number of Effective Pixels
51.4 megapixels
Image Sensor
43.8mm×32.9mm Bayer array with primary color filter
Lens Mount
FUJIFILM G Mount
Image Stabilizer
No
Continuous Shooting Electronic Shutter
Approx 3.0fps
Continuous Shooting Mechanical Shutter
Approx 3.0fps
Dimensions
160.7x96.5x66.4mm
Weight
Approx 775g

FUJINON GF110mmF2 R LM WR

Lens Configuration
14 elements 9 groups
Focal Length
110mm
Focal Length (35mm Format Equivalent)
87mm
Weight
1010g
Filter Size
ø77mm
XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

FUJINON XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Lens Configuration
17 elements 12 groups
Focal Length
16-55mm
Focal Length (35mm Format Equivalent)
24-84mm
Weight
655g
Filter Size
ø77mm