Ewa Meissner was born in Warsaw in 1971. In 2000-2005, she studied journalism at the Faculty of Political Science at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw. Co-founder of the Napo Images agency. She worked as a curator and co-organizer of photo exhibitions with the Center for Contemporary Art, the Old Gallery of the Association of Polish Art Photographers, the Royal Castle in Warsaw, the Center of Japanese Art and Technology “Manngha” in Krakow. Since 2010, she has been cooperating with the Institute of Journalism of the University of Warsaw, teaching press photography, the history of fashion photography
and the history of Japanese photography. Photo editor of photo books, “Echo” by Maksymilian Rigamonti, “Some Things are Quieter Than Others” by Jacek Fota, “Message” by Maciej Jeziorek, “Two tailed dog” by Michał Adamski, among others. Author of the blog Polish Documentary Photography Links where she promotes Polish documentary photography. Her works, oscillating between sociological – documentary photography and street photography, were exhibited, among others, in Poland, France, the Czech Republic, England and the United States
When Fujifilm contacted me to test a previously unannounced camera, I was surprised by their offer. My earlier contact with the brand’s cameras was occasional and I’d have rather associated Fujifilm with the production of analogue films, which I had used in my photography. This made me even more willing to take part in the project, and with the requirement being to complete it using a selected film simulation mode, my choice was the Velvia film simulation.
The X-S10 surprised me with its small size and weight. It’s highly discreet in appearance and won’t scare or embarrass anyone. What I like best is the low profile. Its contoured grip makes it very easy to hold the body in your hand. The outer veneer material ensures a firm sense of grip and is pleasant to the touch. The camera turns on quickly. When working in single mode, the autofocus is extremely fast and reliable. The joystick is very conveniently placed under the thumb, and the buttons for ISO and the quick menu are as easily accessible, under the index finger.
For 12 years I have been making long-term photographic documentary projects using analogue cameras. That’s why the solution used in the FUJIFILM X-S10, the hidden LCD screen, is so useful to me, as it does not change my habits. In my case, the screen on the back of a digital camera keeps sparking a desire to immediately view the pictures I’ve just taken, while other images will have escaped in the meantime. Personally, I prefer to keep looking at what’s happening in front of the lens. I’ll watch the effects of my work later. Hiding the screen protects it from scratching. The highly sensitive LCD piece works fast and is highly responsive. It’s tiltable, which helps when shooting from above or from below. For me, it was very convenient for photographing situations going on behind my back. A more difficult access (you have to open it yourself) may discourage you further from using the LCD screen and serve as encouragement to use the viewfinder, which is highly detailed, clear, and works surprisingly quickly. I had been using analogue cameras for years, so the electronic viewfinder made it difficult, for a long time, to persuade myself to try a mirrorless camera. The viewfinder in the X-S10 convinced me that the technology currently used by Fujifilm surpasses analogue viewfinders in a myriad ways, and working with an electronic viewfinder can be a huge help, with its extensive configuration options.
Neat and extremely light, the wide-angle FUJINON XF23mm lens with a f /2.0 aperture is part of a set of interchangeable lenses designed for the X series digital cameras. When connected to a mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor, it offers the equivalent of a classic 35 mm focal length, my favourite. It’s one that provides a slightly wider angle of view than that of a human eye, which adds some context to the visible surroundings. The FUJINON XF23mm features a speedy, accurate and quiet autofocus. The aperture ring is extremely soft yet solid. This superb prime provides an exceptionally sharp image (at apertures 8, 11, 16), and its maximum f /2.0 aperture is perfectly adequate for working in low light conditions. It’s great for street, documentary, travel and landscape photography. As the metal casing of the lens is sealed very tightly, it will work in rain, dust, heat and subzero temperatures down to -10 C. Visually, the Fujinon XF 23mm is very discreet. It’s unobtrusive. Combined with the X-S10 body, it creates a harmonious duet with a laidback character. It feels comfortable under the arm when wearing a jacket, and becomes almost invisible to the people around you. I appreciate it very much in my work as a documentary photographer, since sometimes I shoot in less-than-friendly, even dangerous, conditions.
The FUJIFILM X-S10 is perfect as a portable, “visual notebook”. It’s indispensable in situations where a larger camera would be too conspicuous, or to too heavy for assignments that demand longer walking. In circumstances that require a reliable, discreet camera with the capabilities of a “big” one, the X-S10 was a great tool for me. I felt I could count on it.
When writing about the X-S10, you cannot forget to mention the stabilization, which in situations of poor light allows you to achieve blur-free photos. With autumn and winter just around the corner, stabilization will help produce images that would be impossible without a tripod. That, in turn, would ruin the chances of discreet and spontaneous documentation of the world around us.
Sophisticated movie modes are a new field for me to explore, and offer possibilities previously unknown, to create material for the web, particularly important nowadays, the social media. Being able to use a film simulation means I don’t need to post-produce the footage for Instagram or Facebook, for example. Stabilisation reduces the need to use tripods or elaborate filmmaking kits, which are built of frames or external stabilisers. Now, I can quickly and easily switch from shooting static images to filming.
When I document the reality around me, one of my protagonists is expressive color with strong saturation. It’s what often builds the dynamics of my photography. Hence my choice of the Velvia colour profile for my project about the end of summer in Warsaw. It is a reference to slide film, which makes colours literally pop out of the photo. They’re a source of both energy and emotions. Intense reds and shades of yellow contrast beautifully with the coolness of the greens and the blues. Velvia is perfect for street and documentary photography, perhaps not as much for portrait photography.
My “The End of Summer” project, which I have completed on a Fujifilm X-S10 camera, tells the story of places connected with summer leisure on the Vistula River, in Warsaw and its surroundings, which after three months of summer and vacations, all bustling with life, become quiet and empty in September. The feeling of nostalgia for the carefree time of rest that is about to end, inevitably heralds the arrival of autumn. The gradual decrease in the amount of light available, and an earlier arrival of dusk, begin to lull Warsaw into sleep, visually.