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4 minute read

Feeling Small in the City

Portrait photographer and visual artist, Shotti, uses the highly compact FUJIFILM X-S10 and XF16mmF1.4 R WR to frame the imposing architecture of the city and ask how it can affect those who live there.

There are countless reasons why photographers do what they do, and oftentimes these reasons are multiple and complex, but Shotti has managed to distill it down to one clear statement. “I make photos because I suck at painting,” he chuckles.

“I’ve always been a storyteller,” he continues. “I liked the idea of creating things that weren’t there before – having an idea, having a vision, and bringing that to life. I can’t really paint, so photographing something is how I manifest that vision.”

For this reason, Shotti describes himself as a visual artist and is also drawn first and foremost to portraiture as a genre. The art of using lighting and camera techniques to manipulate the way a subject is viewed is something that Shotti has always enjoyed and this is evident in his extensive portfolio of work. “Doing those things with the camera and distorting how we see people and interpret people – I think it’s one of the coolest things about portraiture,” he tells us.

Accomplishing this is not always easy and, while Shotti tells us that it’s partly down to rapport, it’s not necessarily a close relationship with the subject that is needed. Instead, he tells us it is understanding what needs to be done to extract the feeling he needs.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to establish some kind of rapport with the subject, but that doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be one where we totally relate to each other, or feel completely comfortable with each other,” he explains. “For example, the intention of the session might be to have them feel uncomfortable, tense, or even angry. So, for me, it’s understanding who my subject is and how I need to push them to make the session successful.”

For this project, Shotti used FUJIFILM X-S10 and XF16mmF1.4 R WR to create a mixture of images that explore the imposing architecture of the city, the atmosphere it creates, and the effect it has on people that live in and among it.

The idea was inspired by the building where Shotti grew up, Tracey Towers in the Bronx. Tracey Towers is designed in the brutalist architectural style that – while revered by some as being iconic – has been described by others as a symbol of totalitarianism. Shotti agrees with the latter view and begins by telling us why.

“These buildings are monolithic, blocky stacks with hard edges that feel like they’re made to make you feel small,” he explains. “They’re built for surveillance with open areas and no privacy, like a prison. It just makes you feel watched. It feels like it’s designed to diminish your stature.”

By using XF16mmF1.4 Shotti reveals that he was able to gain a new perspective on Tracey Towers, a perspective that conveyed the imposing nature of this architecture perfectly. “A lot of my photos display things in a way that I’ve never seen them before. Walking into this building that I’ve known for 30 years, I’ve never stopped to look at it on the grand scale XF16mmF1.4 offers. I was able to look and see how insignificant I am in terms of the building itself, and also the huge number of people that live inside. I feel that’s indicative of the things that are happening today in the world. That was the mindset I had for these images.”

For Shotti, one feature of X-S10 that stood out the most on this project was its size. X-S10’s tiny body is small enough to carry with you wherever you go, but while achieving this high level of portability, it still retains a substantial grip that allows for maximum comfort. Add its easily customizable, simple controls that include a DSLR-style mode dial on the top plate and a vari-angle LCD touchscreen to the mix – plus, of course, great FUJIFILM looks – and you have the perfect combination of portability, style, and control.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is, how big of a feature it is, and how much of an accomplishment it is to have such a small camera that produces such big results,” he enthuses. “I was able to do everything very intuitively right out of the box, and the touchscreen and EVF offer great real-time feedback on any changes that you may have made.”

He also praises the camera’s five-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) that makes the most of the 26.1-megapixel X-Trans CMOS 4 back-side illuminated sensor, when combined with 0.02 second autofocus down to -6EV. “To be able to get down to 1/15sec wide open and still get quality in-focus images was very impressive. And with the ability to extend to ISO 80, this is a camera that functions well in pretty much any situation you throw at it, from super bright to super dark.”

“I’ve already decided that this is my new camera for when I’m walking around,” concludes Shotti. “I think if somebody is looking for a hybrid camera, or something they can take from the studio on a run-and-gun session, X-S10 is a great choice.”

FUJIFILM X-S10 is now available at your nearest FUJIFILM Authorized Dealer. Learn more and read the full specifications here.


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