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My Favorite X by Stefan Finger

Stefan Finger

Stefan Finger (born 1983) is a German photographer. He is based in Düsseldorf and Hannover. 
After his Bachelor’s degree in Politics, Media and Sociology, Finger received his Master in Political Communication at the University Heinrich Heine in Düsseldorf. For this degree he completed a Master’s Thesis about the effect of photography. During his studies he worked as a freelance photographer and writer for several newspapers and the news agency epd as well. In 2011 he began studying Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the University of Applied Sciences in Hannover. During his studies he completed an internship at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Finger is working on long-term projects around the world, focusing on socially significant topics. He was already nominated for the CNN Journalist of the Year award and the Mediaprice of the “Kindernothilfe” with a story about people who live on a Philippines’ dumpsite.
With the story “Wanna Have Love?! – Consequences of Sex Tourism” (the first long-term project Insa Hagemann and Stefan Finger realized as a team) Hagemann and Finger won the highly-prestigious UNICEF Photo of the Year Award in 2014, the Schömbeger Fotoherbst and were shortlisted for the Alfred Fried Award. Stefan Finger is represented by the photo agency laif.

I did not choose to become a photojournalist because I’m a fan of cameras. What I want to do is tell stories, be close to them the moment they are happening – stories that are important to others or myself. In my eyes, the camera is a tool that helps me record what I see and experience for these others and I. For this kind of work, the camera has to work intuitively. It has to be easy to use, reliable and has to meet the technical specifications I need for my type of photography. Moreover, working with it has to be fun for me – especially on long days of taking pictures. Hence, its weight must be pain free; the technology has to be straightforward so it won’t drive me nuts. Last, but not least, it would be unacceptable to have a camera lens and shutter noises that destroy the situations I am trying to capture. That’s why my favorite camera is the FUJIFILM X-Pro2.
Any photographer who does not enjoy photography (any longer) will shoot bad pictures. I am convinced that if a photographer complains about back pain in the evenings or one who sees scenarios but can’t capture them in his photography because his camera destroys them; a photographer who has to battle technical problems and press thousands of buttons simultaneously to change the focal point, will sooner or later lose the passion for photography he could otherwise enjoy. And this does have an adverse impact on the quality of the photographic work.
Of course the photographer is the one who decides on the section of the picture to shoot and who releases the shutter. However, the ease of working with the FUJIFILM X-Pro2, the simplicity of being able to choose the focal points, the dependability the system guarantees even during rain showers and on the other hand this unprofessional, yet incredibly beautiful retro look, which allows me to take pictures in situations that previously were close to impossible – they all facilitate my work and deliver better results. I have to admit that I didn’t trust the system at first. I could not imagine how the same quality plus an easier-to-use system could fit into a smaller and lighter weight camera than the SLR I used until then? Initially, I always brought two systems to my shoots, because I didn’t think my non-reflex X Series could do the job. Soon, although I still brought the SLR along in the car, I didn’t take it out anymore. Finally, I just left it at home because my X delivered better results than my SLR.

Let’s look at, for instance, my photojournalist work I did for newspapers, such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) and magazines, such as the “stern.” Time and again, as photojournalists we happen upon everyday events; however, we aim to capture “real life” – with as little posing and modification as possible – with our cameras. In such situations it is immensely important to have equipment that works inaudibly and that does not create a vaster distance than necessary from the protagonists because of its size. That’s another reason I like to take photographs with fixed focal lengths: The lenses are smaller and not as heavy as zoom lenses and enable me to create better photographs thanks to the open aperture, which also allows me to bring order into some very chaotic imagery.

I also place my trust in the camera’s technology: All I set manually is the aperture – the camera determines the ISO setting and the shutter speed. I have preset three choices and alternate between them. This allows me to focus entirely on the optical image structure and on the protagonists when I shoot portraits. All I control is the aperture.

Moreover, the electronic viewfinder shows the photo exactly the same way it will later appear on the display. Consequently, potential cases of incorrect exposures are now virtually history. Thanks to the viewfinder’s high speed, I rarely need the assistance of the optical viewfinder anymore. I use the option of having an optical viewfinder at my disposal only if I am taking pictures with a flash or if I’m shooting subjects that are just beginning to move into my photograph. The optical viewfinder allows me to see them before they actually enter my actual section.

The X-Pro2 is also my favorite companion when I take pictures at weddings. The two SD card slots turned out to be a true blessing at these events! Having the ability to make that I have the photos even if a memory card should falter is a priceless benefit. The X-Pro2 also enables me to transfer photos directly to my iPhone and send them out to people right away using the Fujifilm app. Speed is not only of critical importance in the field of journalism. Being able to give the newlyweds pictures right away is definitely a gift.

Most of the couples I photograph at weddings are not used to being photographed. Many of them loosen up in front of the camera if they can actually see a person behind the lens and the photographer does not disappear completely behind all of that equipment. They are more relaxed and preoccupied. Of course some of them do ask whether I’m actually a professional. After all, some of their guests may be toting around a literal fleet of cameras and lenses, which may easily exceed the size and weight of my equipment. However, ultimately, that the newlyweds really care about are the results. They hire me because they want to have excellent photographs and not because my equipment looks expensive.