“Street photography is about immortalizing a split second,” says street photography specialist, Matt Hall. “For the viewer, there’s nothing before and nothing after that moment.” It’s a photographer’s job to distill that moment into something extraordinary, whether in terms of narrative, or visual splendor. If not, it’s lost forever. Forgotten.
Finding and framing those moments is something Matt does with aplomb, and he’s mindful of its need, too. “The world is changing so quickly,” Matt continues, “it’s important to document these moments, no matter how small. That way future generations can learn about how our lives were. I personally love looking through old images of years gone by, and I want people to keep on doing that.”
It’s a legacy that is easy to deliver with X-Pro3. Why? Well, despite street photography being one of the most accessible genres, it’s also one of the most demanding to perfect. “Anyone can do it, at any time, just by grabbing a camera, leaving the house and starting to make images,” Matt says. But to be successful, photographer and camera need to work as one. It’s only then that these fleeting situations can be framed, turning the everyday world into a dramatic stage or piecing together the components of a perfect composition, all the while with the photographer remaining very much in the background. X-Pro3 was born to do that, making photography a reflex that’s as natural as extending your hand.
Matt discovered the allure of street photography while wandering his hometown, Cambridge, in the UK, with his infant son, “trying to get him to nap.” He began drawing inspiration from the environment and the characters he saw, as well as the past masters of candid photography, such as Elliott Erwitt and Saul Leiter.
“The relationship between light and dark, suggestion and the human element are all strong themes that run through my work now,” Matt explains, “and I look to create interest in mundane scenes, often to the point of abstraction, often through obfuscation where I use texture, reflections, light, and shade. My inspiration is as simple as the way the light moves through our environment and I’m always fascinated by shadows. For me, street photography can become timeless by telling a story, having striking subject matter, or by evoking genuine emotion in the viewer. But my plan is to always create images that I like first and foremost and if other people like them then that’s a bonus. For me, this isn’t documentary photography, it’s just art.”
Usually using X-T1 or X-Pro2 and either the XF56mmF1.2 R or XF35mmF1.4 R lenses, Matt took X-Pro3 out for a trial, “keeping to the environment I was familiar with, so I could treat the shoot as a proper comparison test against my other FUJIFILM cameras.” Just as intended, X-Pro3 didn’t disappoint. “Street photography can require quick reactions and you want your camera to respond equally quickly,” he explains. “X-Pro3’s fire up from sleep mode was brilliantly fast, as was the autofocus. The softness and sensitivity of the shutter button was also a great benefit.”
Matt continues: “In my eyes, the FUJIFILM X Series has always been perfect for street photography, and X-Pro3 is no different. I was shooting with the XF56mmF1.2 R attached and although this added a fair bit of weight, the pairing still felt comfortable. The control dial layout is easy to navigate while looking through the viewfinder, and the latter is probably my favorite feature. The hybrid viewfinder’s optical mode lets you keep an eye on subjects approaching the frame, which really helps to nail composition – that rangefinder style of shooting is a massive advantage for street photography. And the electronic viewfinder is now amazingly sharp, giving a high-quality representation of how your image will look. Who needs a rear screen, when the view is that good?”
Matt also enjoyed using X-Pro3’s hidden LCD to streamline his process, adding that when making images, “relying mainly on the hybrid viewfinder is a great idea, as it really encourages you to work the frame and live that moment without the constant distraction and the temptation of checking previous shots.”
His favorite photo from his time with X-Pro3 illustrates the way the photographer’s eye and camera technology can work together to find and frame moments that make street photography tick. “The image from the hotel lobby was an instant favorite for me, due to all of the elements coming together,” Matt reveals. “The matching red lamp and tie, the hand shadow, the two telephones, the blue pocket square, and the subject on the left looking to camera. I couldn’t have wished for any more. I had just been photographing the outside of the building when the automatic doors opened, and I noticed how the light was spilling in through the doorway. I slipped the camera into burst mode and fired away as the doors closed. And then the moment was over.”
The hotel lobby image is also emblematic of Matt’s style, hinting rather than showing, and using shadows, objects or blur to keep his subjects anonymous without making the images any less human. It’s something born of both aestheticism and his care for the people in his frame. “In my genre of photography,” he explains, “I feel it’s my responsibility to be as respectful to my subjects as possible. In this age, with cameras everywhere and the public being aware of constantly being filmed, having a camera thrust into their faces can be incredibly intrusive. I prefer a less confrontational approach and advocate this style whenever I can.”
Summing up his time with X-Pro3, Matt felt he saw marked improvements over X-Pro2. “The new camera is faster, sleeker, and in the case of the silver one that I used, even more beautiful,” he enthuses. “I loved the uncluttered rear of the camera with the removal of the directional buttons and the hidden screen. The Film Simulation modes are always a joy to use, too, and having ETERNA, CLASSIC Neg., and MONOCHROMATIC Color to play with was awesome. What keeps pushing me forward creatively is believing that my best image is yet to come and it’s even easier to see that happening with X-Pro3.”
The electronic viewfinder is now amazingly sharp, giving a high-quality representation of how your image will look
About The Photographer
Matt Hall is a street photographer based in Cambridge, UK. He began making images on the streets of his home city back in 2015 and has since mastered the art of finding the extraordinary in the day to day.