When we asked Canadian street and documentary photographer, Ian MacDonald, to test the new FUJIFILM X-Pro3 camera, he had the perfect project in mind; a photo essay focusing on using the FUJIFILM X Series to digitize film photography.
“I have long thought about documenting this as a visual story,” reveals Ian, who felt the launch of X-Pro3 was a great reason to make the project a reality. Its unique design and inclusion of the new CLASSIC Neg. Film Simulation mode, which is reminiscent of the much-loved FUJICOLOR Superia 100 photographic film, fitted perfectly.
“What better project to try out the new X-Pro3, a camera built to celebrate the craft of photography, than to create a visual story of the film photography process?” he asks.
Ian is an existing FUJIFILM user, so X-Pro3 felt familiar from the start of the project. “When I took it out of the box, it felt like coming home. I am an avid X100F shooter and I have used X-Pro2 for my client work,” he explains. “The X-Pro series has always felt ‘right’ in my hand and X-Pro3 felt robust, solid. It felt perfect.”
As Ian continued to use X-Pro3, it grew on him more and more: “I was immediately sold when I held the camera up to my eye and looked through the redesigned OVF/EVF. The new Hybrid Viewfinder is beautiful, a huge improvement on the previous generation in my opinion,” he reveals.
However, Ian’s favorite aspect of X-Pro3's design was initially a feature he wasn’t sure of. “The redesigned touchscreen on the back took a bit of time to get used to, because it was different from what I have used previously. However, I soon came to appreciate the simplicity of it,” he recalls.
Ian goes on to talk about how in addition to making the screen less prone to damage, it encouraged him to craft his images using the viewfinder more often. “This always feels more mindful to me, like I have a stronger connection with my subject. And, when I needed the touchscreen, it was just a flip away. The best of both worlds I think,” he says.
“Shooting with X-Pro3 right next to somebody that was shooting film really highlighted the value of the new design,” says Ian. “As technologically powerful as X-Pro3 is, it doesn’t feel like you are holding a digital camera when you use it. Fujifilm has designed a camera that simply gets out of your way, placing all of your focus on what really matters... the creation of the image,” he continues.
Perhaps most significantly of all was the effect X-Pro3 had on the way Ian worked, inspiring him to slow down and return to basics. “I allowed myself to adjust organically to the X-Pro3 and found I was shooting in a slower and more methodical fashion,” he says. “I was tailoring the in-camera settings more often, looking through the viewfinder more and, in general, being more aware of the process. I was enjoying it more as well.”
“I work primarily in candid or documentary fashion, so my goal was to document the process of shooting film from beginning to end without significantly directing or influencing anything that was happening. The small size and quiet operation made X-Pro3 particularly well-suited for this type of work,” he reveals.
Learning this art of taking his time and noticing the scene in front of him was a fundamental aspect of Ian’s journey into street and documentary photography. “The street taught me to slow down, observe more and to react quicker when the time was right, which are skills that also inform my client work. I fell in love with this approach to shooting and haven’t been back in the studio since,” he tells us.
Through this approach, Ian used photography to help him heal from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a result of working as a paramedic for 25 years. “The experiences I had as a paramedic reminded me of how fleeting life truly is, and how important it is to value every moment,” he says. “This taught me to cherish the people around me, the places I visit, the streets I walk and the experiences I have. As a photographer, I am compelled to document that which moves me... it is as simple as that,” says Ian, “I think Burk Uzzle said it best: ‘Photography is a love affair with life.’”
Ian has always loved using FUJIFILM X100 and X-Pro cameras for his street and documentary work due to their portability, ergonomics, and viewfinder position. With this in mind, he has welcomed the arrival of X-Pro3 with open arms.
“I really enjoyed working with X-Pro3 and think it is an exciting new addition to the X Series,” he says. “From a technical perspective, the viewfinder is wonderful, I love the new CLASSIC Neg. Film Simulation mode, and I was surprised by how much I came to enjoy the simplicity of the new rear touchscreen configuration. It all added up to a camera that is powerful, but easy to use.
“This is an amazing time to be a FUJIFILM user. The X Series is robust, with something for everyone, and I look forward to seeing the work that future X-Pro3 photographers create,” concludes Ian. “Will I buy one? Hell, yes,” he adds.
I was immediately sold when I held the camera up to my eye and looked through the redesigned OVF/EVF
About The Photographer
FUJIFILM X-Photographer, Ian MacDonald, is a street, documentary, and wedding photographer and educator based in Vancouver, Canada. His love for people is what drives him in his photography, which has earned him a strong reputation throughout the industry.