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01.31.2020

X100F "Common Sense": Mathias Benguigui x Eric Bouvet

When I was a teenager, I used to read passionately about photojournalism and documentary photography. I started as a professional about ten years ago, first in commercial and advertising photography. It was only in 2015, when I started my training at the EMI-CFD school, that I made my first photo-report, “TAO”, about a young farmer struggling to make a living from his farm and to turn to organic products. It’s the time when I decided to purchase a camera from the X100 series, in order to photograph Tao’s daily life as closely as possible.

Thanks to its shape and its small size, the X100 fits under the elbow and you can forget about it. My interaction with the subject I photograph takes a more human aspect, and they no longer see me only as a photographer.

In July 2016, this first school project won me the Paris Match Student Prize for “Nature and Environment”. It has been a springboard to launch myself as a professional and to get my first press assignments. Project after project, I forged my uniqueness, both in the narrative aspects and in my photographic storytelling. This documentary and committed approach is what my clients are looking for.

Since September 2018, I have been producing a “Carte Blanche” for the “Orchestre de Paris”, for the 2018-2019 season.

For several years, I have been working for different labels and festivals, and producing pop/rock and world music images. This experience in contemporary music, offbeat from the image of classical music, is what motivated the “Orchestre de Paris” to collaborate with me.

This new exercise is very stimulating for my practice, but it also presents some difficulties. It is a matter of showing originality and expressing my sensitivity, while at the same time meeting the expectations of the institution in a very constrained environment. In September 2019, I have started a second Carte Blanche for the new season, and taking up this challenge has provided me with a lot of fun, thanks to the X100F. Its silent electronic shutter is essential for me, in these working conditions where I could not use my traditional DSLR.

The “Orchestre de Paris”, based at the “Philharmonie de Paris”, is a fabulous place, which allows me to play with the scenery, but the lighting conditions are poor. The very high dynamic range of the X100F’s 24MP CMOS sensor and its excellent high-ISO image quality are my best friends: they allow me to get all the necessary editing possibilities on my RAW files.

“Now you come to us with film cameras?”
The enthusiastic words of the orchestra’s first violin at the last rehearsal make me smile. Sometimes, the “look” matters. It’s not the same thing to point a big camera at someone or to take out your discreet Fujifilm X100F.

At the end of 2016, I decided to get started with my first personal project, on the Greek island of Lesbos. “Aegean Exiles” tries to relate two migration stories on the same land: first the one about the Greeks expelled from Asia Minor in 1922, and second the one about the contemporary refugees arriving on the island since 2015.

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I photograph mainly with a prime 35mm lens and I like to travel light. The X100F is an indispensable tool for what I do: with it, I can easily find the only settings I need – aperture, shutter speed and ISO. This technical simplicity allows me to be completely focused on my shooting.

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I will travel again in February with a Fujifilm X Series camera in my bag: I am going to finish the “Aegean Exiles” project, for which a book is in preparation…

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