“Spontaneity is hugely important in our work, because when you’re on the street it’s just you and the camera with no set brief, and no expectations – and that’s a really inspiring playground to us,” says Dominique Shaw, one half of the creative sister and brother team behind the UK’s York Place Studios. Dominique and her brother, Liam Shaw, have evolved a blend of street and wedding photography that rejoices in “color, humor, characterization, and multi-layered images.” It’s something they say is down to “photographing people just being people, whether that’s at weddings, events or out on the streets.”
With such strong street photography connections, it’s no surprise that the pair have found themselves at home with the FUJIFILM X Series, usually shooting with X-Pro2s, and XF16mmF1.4 R WR, XF23mmF1.4 R, and XF56mmF1.2 R lenses. With the advent of X-Pro3, however, Dominique and Liam went back to the streets to see what the new camera brought to their style.
“Wedding photography might be the main focus of our work,” explains Liam, “but we’ve long used street style and ideas within it. And it’s those themes that inspired us to pick up cameras in the first place. All of our photographic heroes were street photographers, who used tools that let them react to this ever-changing and surprising environment. So that’s how we wanted to try out X-Pro3, taking it back to our roots and using it to document the annual 1940s Wartime Weekend in Pickering, North Yorkshire, UK.”
“The Wartime Weekend,” continues Liam, “is unlike other events in that it takes over not just a field or a historic monument, but an entire town, with hundreds of locals and tourists dressing up in wartime costume as they go about their business. The result is a bizarre mixture of modern shops with vintage cars parked out front, and fashionable tourists standing alongside people wearing old military uniforms!”
Unlike their lively mix of subjects, one of the most important aspects of street and documentary work is to blend in and not draw too much attention to yourself, and X-Pro3 was perfect for that, according to Dominique and Liam. “Most people, even if they do see you, assume it’s an old film camera and that somehow breaks down barriers and makes them more relaxed and real around us,” says Dominique. “It’s a reaction to the camera that lets you get in close, as we need to for many of our shots.”
She continues: “X-Pro3 is an unassuming camera and we love the familiar film-style feel of it. It’s perfectly balanced and not too heavy, which again is important when shooting long days and sometimes from difficult angles. It’s also very versatile with how you use it, as it lets you personalize it to your own way of shooting, whether that’s with the rangefinder-style OVF, utilizing the EVF or shooting using the screen at its various angles. It’s light and small enough to have on you at all times, so you rarely miss a moment.”
When it came to recording the vintage events, Dominique and Liam were thrilled with X-Pro3’s image quality and CLASSIC NEG., its new Film Simulation mode. “The look of the photos, even at higher ISOs, was just beautiful,” explains Liam. “We’re particularly in love with CLASSIC Neg.
“One of the best things, though, is that photos look great right out of camera to the point where we could just use JPEGs and do no editing whatsoever. Reviewing images on the rear screen, the color rendition and resolution are beautiful and were even better when we got them onto a bigger screen.”
Dominique adds: “We’ve always seen the world in brightest technicolor and have long been inspired in our work by old films and color palettes, so the legacy of FUJIFILM colors built into the camera is very inspiring to us. Shooting with CLASSIC Neg. on this project, with its mix of modern and wartime themes, took us right back to our color roots and got us thinking about our own personal ‘legacy' as we’ve developed as photographers over the years.”
X-Pro3’s classic vintage styling belies a camera that’s right at the cutting edge of technology, and one that’s totally comfortable keeping up with a street photographer’s need to spontaneously react to life around them. “From the original FUJIFILM film stock appearing in the Memory LCD to the fantastic build quality and rangefinder handling, it feels like the perfect evolution of camera history and the best of what digital technology can give us within the body of the classic cameras we love,” enthuses Dominique.
If anything, X-Pro3 has taken the siblings back to their film roots even more so than X-Pro2 did. “All of our favorite X-Pro2 features remain, but just feel like they have been tweaked and refined in various areas like AF and ISO performance,” says Liam. “The simple styling, the lack of unnecessary buttons, the balance and ergonomics of the camera make it a joy to shoot with and gave us a shooting experience where we felt free to create without restriction or overreliance on what the camera itself could do – we could simply trust that it would do exactly what we wanted it to.”
He concludes: “Our central aim as photographers is to take images that capture not just what someone looked like, but a little piece of who they were as a person at that time in their lives. It’s something that can be very powerful to those who know and love these people, but hopefully also something that becomes a record of society at a particular moment in history. To do that, you need to have a camera that helps you and X-Pro3 looks great, feels good in your hand, and makes you want to get out and take photographs. In that way, it’s quite an inspirational camera.”
X-Pro3 looks great, feels good in your hand, and makes you want to get out and take photographs
About The Photographer
The York Place Studios UK-based photography collective was founded by Dominique and Liam Shaw and is renowned for its street-inspired documentary-style wedding photography.