PHOTOGRAPHER: Xyza Cruz Bacani
BASED IN: New York, USA/Hong Kong/Philippines
KNOWN FOR: Street photography and documentary projects about migration and the intersections of labor and human rights
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM GFX 50S, X-T3, and X-Pro2 Cameras, FUJINON GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR Lens, XF23mmF1.4 R Lens, and XF56mmF1.2 R Lens
Xyza Cruz Bacani is a FUJIFILM X-Photographer who uses powerful street and documentary images to raise awareness about global human rights issues. Although usually chasing activity in her photographs, we speak to Xyza after she spent time with the FUJIFILM X-T30 in New York City, searching for a different side to the busy streets that she is used to.
As a street and documentary photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani is used to the hustle and bustle of the city streets. In fact, it is this activity that often provides her with the subjects she needs in order to create such powerful imagery. However, for this project Xyza challenged herself and the X-T30 to capture the opposite: she wanted to capture the power of silence.
In her search for the perfect shot, Xyza knew that she needed to explore the quieter side of New York, so she took the X-T30 to an area she knows well – Astoria. “They say the best stories are the ones in your backyard and I have been staying around Astoria whenever I’m in town for a visit,” says Xyza, who is based between the Philippines, Hong Kong and the USA. “New York is an alluring muse,” she continues, “every corner has its own story but sometimes it can be so dense. Astoria is like a muse that wants to be discovered, but beforehand requires you to invest time and energy into understanding who she really is.”
Xyza particularly enjoys the remarkable difference you can find between two areas that are so close. “I appreciate the quietness of the area in contrast with all the activities in Manhattan,” she says, going on to talk about how this contrast forms the foundation of the story behind the project.
“Quiet images for me are often the hardest to take because of the noise of the world today, but with this project I hope to show that it is possible to capture silence,” she explains. “I shoot mostly documentary work and shooting street photography is my way to release all the angst that I absorbed from witnessing traumas. For this reason, finding the stillness around the neighbourhood is therapeutic for me,” she continues.
Xyza found the X-T30 to be the ideal companion when out on the street looking for opportunities, particularly highlighting the camera’s lightweight and portable body as a benefit. “I enjoyed carrying the X-T30 around with me on the street because it is light, unobtrusive and very fast to capture decisive moments,” she says.
She also commends the X-T30’s many professional features including its precision autofocus and high-quality back-illuminated sensor. These features all came together to provide a reliable tool out in the field, and the fantastic selection of Film Simulation Modes gave her the creative freedom she needed to convey the atmosphere that she wanted.
“The Astia Film Simulation perfectly captured the softness of the color of Astoria,” she says, adding that this is what helped her to achieve her favorite shot from the set. “I love the image of the family walking towards the sunset with New York as the backdrop. There is something tender in the moment and the Astia Film Simulation helped me highlight that tenderness,” she reveals.
It is the ability to capture these moments and record them for future generations that drives Xyza to continue to shoot. “I’m a storyteller. I love telling stories. Photography is an effective outlet for sharing stories around the world,” she says. “I’m always curious about things that are happening around me. That curiosity pushes me to capture moments that are fleeting and photography allows me record that moment.”
She was originally drawn to photography as a medium for creating awareness and instigating change in the world, and this idea still underpins every image she makes. “I believe that the visual power of photography can spark conversations and create change in our society,” she says. “It is a universal language that shows us how other people live, lets us witness how our world revolves and makes us think on issues that need to change.”
This commitment to raising awareness of global issues stems from Xyza’s own personal experiences as a migrant worker in Hong Kong. Since then she has dedicated her career to documenting the effect such work has on families across the world, including her own. “I’m inspired by the courage of millions of migrant workers who left their families behind to give them a better future,” says Xyza whose book We Are Like Air and accompanying exhibition, telling the story of her mother’s experiences as a migrant worker, has recently launched in the USA.
And, although there is still a long way to go, ultimately Xyza sees this campaigning as her legacy. “I feel like there is still so much that needs to be done, but I hope that my works can create a better world with equal opportunities for the future generations of migrant workers and their children.”
Follow the X-T30’s journey and find out more about this amazing camera on our dedicated X-T30 page.
Xyza Cruz Bacani is a FUJIFILM-compensated professional photographer.
To see more of Xyza’s work, visit her website.