Five years with Fujifilm
Hi Bruno! Thank you for your availability. Could you tell us a bit about you?
Thank you to invite me to make part of this project of yours. My name is Bruno Ribeiro, I’m a Portuguese photographer currently based in the United States, I document and portrait life around me.
How long have you been interested in photography more seriously, and have you began to develop your abilities and your own style?
Hmm… Around 2010, I don’t remember now why or how, but there was one day that I had a chance to see some photographs of some Magnum Photographers, and at that time, I never had touched a camera, and I remember thinking: “These are powerful images, full of intention and meaning” and from that day forward I always had that tiny wish to get a camera and make photographs.
After that there was a time that I was mostly shooting with my iPhone, I didn’t liked to get out with a DSLR, unless it was to shoot something for somebody, then I would use it, it was bulky and it really wasn’t my thing at the time (2011-2013). I really learned a lot with the iPhone, composition, focusing only on the image, didn’t had camera settings to think about, neither which lenses to decide to go with, it was an easy process. At that time all my develop process was made on the iPhone (in-apps). Then I bought the Fujifilm Finepix X100 and everything changed for me. Since then things got more seriously for me.
About my style, I always think that I’m still figuring that out… I’m always very picky about the way I showcase my images, mainly around the internet. But despite all of my creativity brainstorms I only showcase images that suggests more interrogations overall, even for me.
Speaking of style, what changed in the way you photograph when you moved to the US?
Pretty much everything… hmm being shooting in the streets makes you develop a instinct style on the process of how you approach the making of your images, in the US where am I at the moment Kentucky (temporary) it’s hard to get the same saturation of people that you would see for example in New York, Chicago, Europe… Its just different, and I had to make some changes and I still am. These days I’m very interested and intrigued about photographing people in a documentary fashionable way, but always with “street photography” as process in mind.
Looking at your portfolio, despite a noticeable change in the subjects photographed, the approach remains the same. Was it important for you to maintain a consistency in your images?
These days I mainly shoot my two daughters and my wife, and I’m really interested in document their lives in the best way I can, and when I shoot somebody else that “style” goes with it, second nature. I’m thankful to always have somebody to shoot, you know, its a way to show your feelings also, taking a photograph, and sharing that photograph with the person you just shot, without them knowing of it.
Whether it be street photography, family portraits or fashion, almost all your photos have in common a dark and moody ambient. It’s already your signature. How did you develop this style?
There is a lot of things that inspires me, light set ups in movies, even video games, good photographs…
I started mainly working in Black and White, I’m colorblind, and in the beginning I didn’t want to deal with color, just tried to focus in shapes, forms, composition factors.
These days I work a lot with color.
About the mood per say, I just go with my gut, and to be honest there is no such thing as “oh this image needs to be dark and moody”, 99% of the time I shoot underexposed, so that might helped me to get to that mood even without me noticing it in the first place.
Most photographers live this passion so intensely that it makes them inseparable to the camera wherever they go, which is sometimes difficult to harmonize with family leisure moments. But in your case, and evaluating for your fantastic gallery, Photography is an activity that you can perfectly reconcile with your beautiful wife, creating wonderful portraits. Is it something you both enjoy and build together, from the initial concept of a photograph to its realization?
Like I said before, I’m thankful to have my family all the time to take photographs of them, and I always use a camera everywhere we go, to a restaurant, to the park, to hike… Sometimes I think I should put the camera aside to be more with them, but every time I notice I’m not I already have my eye in the viewfinder…
I love taking photographs of my wife, most of the time its never planned, unless I set up a light and we kinda prepare it, otherwise and most of the photographs I have of her are documental.
Many of your photographs have an almost cinematographic look. They could perfectly well be single frames taken from a film. Are these scenes “built” in order to obtain the intended combination of composition, framing and lighting or, on the contrary, are they scenes naturally occurring in your everyday life and, when they happen before you, do you feel the urge to capture them?
I have been very interested in cinematic feels and moods, I found it to be perfect to document a certain mood, or in color or with light. Most of the photographs you see are “it just happened” kind of thing, they are not prepared in any way. but then I work with the color (or B&W). But the light needs to be right, like in everything we shoot.
The Fuji X series is a common choice among street photographers. When you began to expand the range of subjects, did you feel any limitation, or did you find that your cameras were flexible enough to be used in other genres without constraints of any kind?
My first Fujifilm camera was the X100, and I still use it all the time, I learned the limitations of the camera, and I still live with that. I use it on my personal stuff and sometimes in paid jobs. I use my X-Pro1 and X-T1 a lot also, it gives the chance to change lenses whenever i need to. but I must confess, I prefer the first sensors, like the one on the X-Pro1. Along with all these cameras I also own a Canon 5D mkIII and it’s on the shelf for years…
You often photograph in poorly lit environments. Compared to other mirrorless systems, do you feel that Fuji has a huge advantage because of its fantastic range of fast prime lenses?
I love low light. To be honest, I think Fujifilm cameras do a phenomenal job in lowlight, high ISOs are superb for a sensor that size, and I always like a touch of grain in my images, and when paired with a fast lens its a joy to use.
We noticed that you use several models of the Fuji line. Does each have a specific function or, when you buy a new camera, are you simply not able to get rid of the old one? 🙂
I still use my X100, but I used for some time the X100T and its a lot faster. In everything. But ultimately the original one is fine for me… and I love the sensor and the colors and tones that reproduces. Having the X-Pro1 and X-T1 builds alternatives on the way I shoot regarding lenses and some noticeable upgrade in image quality. Each one for its own job kinda thing. Maybe in the future I can get the X-Pro2 or 3, who knows 🙂
“I’m a Portuguese photographer currently based in the United States, I document and portrait life around me. About my style, I always think that I’m still figuring that out … I’m always very picky about the way I showcase my images, mainly around the internet. But despite all of my creativity brainstorms I only showcase images that suggests more interrogations overall, even for me.”