As a Baltimore native and disabled veteran, having served two tours in Iraq, photography has been a very critical therapeutic outlet. Photography enables me to navigate through my life’s journey by capturing the joy in others. I always make it a purpose to respect my subjects because not only are they allowing me and my lens into their lives, but they are also – sometimes without realizing it – are providing incredible healing for me. I take great pride in my work and connecting with my subjects on a personal level, which, in turn, allows my clients to feel comfortable enough to return. Whenever I look through the viewfinder and my trigger finger onto the shutter, it also literally triggers an escape of the traumatic memories experienced during my rotations in Iraq. The camera is my saving sanctuary. Photography has given me a different perspective on life especially after the horrors endured in the Middle East. Photography crystallizes a moment in time and gives the opportunity of experiencing life through the eyes of others.
Photojournalist, Michael A McCoy, gets to the heart of the stories on the streets of Washington DC using FUJIFILM X-S10, FUJINON XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR and XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro.
As a photographer, Michael McCoy has always been attracted to the connections he makes with his subjects and how those connections can affect the resulting images. While his interest in photography started when he was young, playing around with his father’s camera, it wasn’t until his time serving in the military that he really understood the power an image can have.
“When I was in Iraq, I was taking selfies before selfies were cool,” jokes Michael. “I would send pictures home to my mom to let her know I was okay. Then I started taking pictures for my other battle buddies, so they could send them on to their families, and it grew on me.”
About a year later, while Michael was on another deployment in Iraq, his mother sadly passed away and this prompted him to consider the power photography can have.
“I realized you can’t catch up on everything you miss,” he says. “You can’t catch up on the birthdays, anniversaries, the gatherings. So, why not document? I found an interest in journalism and documentary photography, and I haven’t looked back.”
Michael is now a professional photojournalist, regularly working with some of the world’s biggest organizations, but he still makes images for the same reasons. “It’s all about building that connection and building that trust and that bond. Some photographers don’t have that, because they don’t allow themselves to be vulnerable, or they don’t interact with their environment,” he explains. “They might go into a situation to cover a story just because it’s news. But for me, it all comes down to creating images and telling the story the right way. Everything I shoot is set with honor and dignity.”
The idea of connections between people is evident throughout the images Michael made with X-S10, documenting life in Washington DC. The first part of the project focused on local barbers and how the pandemic has affected the relationships that were built and the community that existed between those walls. “If you went to a barbershop before Covid-19, it was like a celebration, but that atmosphere has definitely been shaded as you don’t really get guys coming in just to hang out anymore,” he explains. “My barbershop could get crowded at times where you might have to wait outside or in your car, so just coming into a barbershop now and not seeing that – it’s totally different.”
He also used X-S10 to document another issue that is having a huge impact on life in the city and around the country: The Black Lives Matter movement. “Stories of color are often swept under the rug. And if they are talked about, the stories aren’t told from a humanitarian perspective,” says Michael.
“Hopefully with these memorials and tributes, this year can change that, and that’s why I love photography. I can use these images to hopefully shape the opinion of someone who may not necessarily understand and help give them a better insight. Hopefully, that right there can lead a person to have a change of heart.”
Michael used the ETERNA Bleach Bypass Film Simulation mode for all of his images. This is the newest addition to Fujifilm’s digital picture modes, which emulate the looks of some of the brand’s most classic analog films. The combination of low saturation and hard tones that it creates brings with it a certain grit and realism that complements Michael’s style of photography perfectly.
“It adds some unique perspective to the color and the story,” he says, also praising the capabilities of the camera’s 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor to produce such high-quality images. However, perhaps his favorite feature of X-S10 is the fact that this advanced sensor, along with the quad-core X-Processor 4 and the five-stop in-body image stabilization system is all housed inside such a lightweight, small, and unimposing body. The perfect addition to a mirrorless camera system that’s as portable as FUJIFILM X Series.
“I can carry all the gear I need and it doesn’t give me backache when I get home as it weighs a lot less than other systems. It also allows me to be more discreet and makes it easier for me to maneuver,” he explains. “These cameras are a lot less intrusive, especially with the silent electronic shutter. I can photograph someone, and they don’t even know it. It doesn’t create any distraction.”
Michael’s overall thoughts on X-S10 come down to the versatility it has in being able to deliver professional-quality images without requiring professional-level abilities. Whether you are using full manual mode or the Advanced SR AUTO mode, you can create fantastic results.
“I’d recommend X-S10 to everybody. You don’t have to be a professional and you don’t have to be a novice to use it,” he concludes. “If you want a camera that takes great pictures, that’s compact and convenient, and allows you to remain inconspicuous, X-S10 is the camera for you.”
Find out more about Michael’s creative process with this exclusive behind-the-scenes video!