Portrait Photography with the X-T20 by Saraya Cortaville
Saraya Cortaville is an award winning portrait and social documentary photographer.
She has received two fellowships (one of only two women in the uk to have achieved this) one for studio portraiture and most recently social documentary for a project she completed in 2015 whilst living in Africa.
She was awarded the Peter Grugeon award for the best fellowship portfolio of 2015, and a gold award in Visual Arts in the professional photography awards 2016.
Saraya’s passion for travel and people has pushed her career in to a more adventurous phase and she has recently lived and worked abroad for various international NGO’s documenting social issues in countries as far as Tanzania and Nepal.
Saraya skillfully manages to draw out her subjects emotions and feelings, in a sensitive and empathetic nature, her portraits are an observation and moment of connection, between two people, rather than photographer, subject.
When not abroad Saraya shoots primarily location portraiture specializing in children and documentary weddings.
My lovely little FUJIFILM X-T20 up until now has been my “back-up” kit, and has been a wonderful partner to my workhorse X-T2. It sits permanently in my kit bag with the XF90mmF2 lens on and is a great second camera for weddings, portraits and my travel work. The FUJIFILM X-T20 has been a perfect addition and a great go-to camera when needed.
The two cameras with similar controls and menus are easy to use in sync. With the same 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor as the X-T2, I know that the RAW files from the X-T20 are going to be wonderfully rich and have the same depth of deta
Last weekend however, I decided to relegate the X-T2 and use the X-T20 for two portraits shoots that I had arranged in a local park, and put it through its paces! I packed up the kit bag, (which was surprising light) and headed out!
I always take a few of my lenses out when shooting portraits; the XF18-55mmF2.8-4, and the XF90mmF2 prime. My favorite, hands down for portraits, is the gorgeous XF50-140mmF2.8 lens. I just love the drop off when wide open, it really suits my style of work.
The body of the X-T20 is small and I was concerned it would feel unbalanced with such a large lens mounted. I had always felt comfortable with the shorter lenses on the X-T20, however after a couple of minutes shooting with the longer lens, it was surprisingly easy to handle, and less intimidating for the subject.
Having become a real convert to the mirrorless way of shooting, the X-T20 with the electronic view finder (EVF), just makes life so much easier for the photographer, especially when shooting children and the need to work quickly is paramount.
Being able to see exactly what you are going to capture is a real benefit, and gives peace of mind. I am sure that it enables me to work in a more considered and relaxed manner.
I generally have the view mode set to eye sensor, so that I am able to use both the LCD screen and the viewfinder for composing my images, and again the ability to do this when working with children is great. With the tilt of the screen, the photographer has more options to creatively capture the subject.
With the small body, the X-T20 does not include a dial for the ISO settings, so I have assigned my back press dial to quickly access this option. However you have the ability to assign the back press dial to any of the eight function options available to suit your own style of shooting, making it fully customizable to the user.
The autofocus is fast and responsive, and you have the option of either 91 or 325 focus points that can be utilized for creative composition. The focus point can also be resized to suit the size of the subject very easily by twisting the back dial.
For my portraits I use the 91 points and single point focus, as it enables me to move around the frame quickly. If I move it over to one corner, a quick press of the DISP BACK button resets the focus point to the middle of the frame. These are the simple ideas that Fujifilm get so right. Everything is intuitive and makes perfect sense to the user.
With the touch screen menu in the top right, you are able to toggle through the options and point to the area of focus quickly, and shoot just by pressing the screen. Practice makes perfect. Just a bit of time to get to grips with this sequence is a real benefit for quick shooting, invaluable in an awkward shooting position. The image of the girls together was shot this way and would have been much harder to capture if this option wasn’t available.
In playback mode, you are also able to double check the focus by simply pressing the rear dial in. This will then instantly zoom to your chosen focus point for checking, great for moving subjects such as children or if the subject is further away in the frame.
Whilst taking portraits, I tend to move location every 5-10 minutes to keep the momentum and energy of the shoot high, (and to stop the kids getting bored) so the lightness of the X-T20 was a real bonus.
The only draw back for me with the X-T20, and a reason not to completely rely on it for my professional work, would be the single memory card slot that you have with the X-T2. I like the reassurance of the back up, especially when shooting weddings and portraits.
The more I use this camera, the more I love it! I am currently packing for my next trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the X-T20 will be accompanying me, especially when out trekking! Carrying lighter kit, but still retaining the quality of the image, is just perfect for this purpose.