The hardest part of my day is choosing which camera to use…

I was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. In 2009 I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Okinawa. In 2016 I moved to England and returned to Okinawa again in 2019. I was introduced into photography 10 years ago by a group of service members. I enjoyed it so much wanted to pursue it professionally. I did not have a favorite genre at the time, however, I would practice shooting HDR landscapes, and pictures of my friends every day.

Currently, I am only shooting street photography using both film and digital cameras. I shoot 35mm, 120mm film, APS-C, and digital medium format. I enjoy searching for certain moments to share with the world. Being in the military has benefited me, by allowing me to travel and capture those moments.

… is it digital?

Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF23mmF2 @23mm . f/2.0 . 1/640″ . ISO 400
Fuji GFX-50R . Fuji GF63mmF2.8 @63mm . f/4.0 . 1/400″ . ISO 1000
Fuji X-Pro3 . Fuji XF35mmF2 @35mm . f/2.0 . 1/640″ . ISO 400

My first Fujifilm camera was the X-A2. At the time I owned a Canon 5D Mk2 and MK3 and a few L series lenses. When I travel for work I always bring a camera. Because the Canon’s were heavier, I wanted a small, light, “travel” camera that had amazing image quality. I did some research and decided to try Fujifilm. When I tested the X-A2 I was more than pleased with the results.

Fuji’s colors, JPEGS, RAW files, image quality, most importantly the size and weight were exactly what I wanted. My only complaint was, it did not have a viewfinder. I do not like using LCD screen to shoot, but I loved the camera and photos so much that I went and bought an X-T10 (the X-T1 was sold out) for the viewfinder. Since then I have owned almost every X-T and X-Pro series camera released, except the X-Pro1, and X-T30.

Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF56mmF1.2 @56mm . f/1.2 . 1/400″ . ISO 800
Fuji GFX-50R . Fuji GF63mmF2.8 @63mm . f/2.8 . 1/12800″ . ISO 400

While I was living in England I was approached by a photographer when he saw me with a film camera. We spoke for a while and he introduced street photography to me. Before I met him I did not know what street photography was. I wanted to learn more about it, and he agreed to teach me. Once I started all I wanted was to shoot street photography.

I was a little unmotivated with photography, but learning street photography inspired me to shoot more. I learned new shooting techniques and to be patient. I do not need to rush a shot (many exceptions to that rule) or take photos just to fill my SD card. I take my time reading the scene and see things from different perspectives. To me, street photography is about how I see the world in front of me. The beauty is that each moment will never happen again.

Fuji X-T3 . Fuji XF56mmF1.2 @56mm . f/1.2 . 1/50″ . ISO 400
Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF56mmF1.2 @56mm . f/1.2 . 1/1600″ . ISO 200
Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF56mmF1.2 @56mm . f/1.2 . 1/2000″ . ISO 800

I am not an X-Photographer, or endorsed by Fuji, however, I exclusively use Fujifilm digital cameras for my street photography. I have tried using a Sony A7RII and Canon 5D2/5D3. Both cameras are good for certain subjects, however, I just could not adapt to using them. The issue with Canon was the size, weight, and no EVF. For Sony, it was with the autofocusing.

The lenses would continuously hunt and eventually lock well after the scene was lost (disclaimer I do not own any native Sony lenses so it may be the cause). Also on multiple occasions, the shutter on the Sony would not fire at all. This does not happen when I use Fuji, proving to be the better camera to fit my shooting style.

Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF56mmF1.2 @56mm . f/1.2 . 1/1000″ . ISO 3200
Fuji X-T3 . Fuji XF50mmF2 @50mm . f/2.0 . 1/1250″ . ISO 200

When the GFX50R was released I was curious how well it would perform street, and how much better a medium format sensor was. My first impression was, “It is one of the most amazing cameras ever created”. The images this camera produces are breathtaking. It captures EVERY detail perfectly.

The size of the camera is not much different from a full-frame DSLR, but feels lighter, even with a lens attached. The autofocus was tricky at first, and there is a short shutter lag. Other than that I had no issues using it in the street, and once I learned how it worked it became easy to use.

Fuji X-Pro3 . Fuji XF35mmF1.4 @35mm . f/1.6 . 1/320″ . ISO 800

I waited an entire year for the announcement of the X-Pro3, so I bought mine on the release date. I had the X-T3 so I knew the X-Pro3 would be just as good. After using it for a month or so I feel it is Fuji’s best X series camera. The updated viewfinder, X-Trans sensor, and processor make shooting quick and seamless. The autofocus feels faster, more responsive, and more accurate. Especially when shooting with the 56mm f/1.2.

It focuses instantly without any lag or hunting. The titanium body is noticeably lighter, and when paired with a compact prime lens it weighs next to nothing. The body is still compact and hardly noticeable when shooting. I love that the LCD screen is now hidden as I mentioned before I don’t like using it. I think it was perfect to restrict chimping and have photographers focus on photography. The new film simulation Classic Negative is gorgeous.

I rarely shoot in color and when I would, I always used classic chrome, but classic negative has become my go-to color profile. In Comparison to the GFX50R, the obvious is body size, weight, autofocus speed, and sensor size. FujiFilm’s image quality is great no matter which camera I choose. It comes down to the larger sensor size and slower AF vs. Smaller sensor size and faster AF.

… or is it film?

Fujifilm 645 . Fujifilm Pro 400H
Contax G2 . Fujifilm Pro 400H

In 2017 I started collecting analog cameras. When I began using film I would shoot very controlled subjects, because the cost of film, and having it developed was expensive. The transition from digital to film was beneficial because I wasted less film knowing how and what I want to shoot. For a short period, I only shot on film so I could perfect that skill. I wanted to be good at shooting both digital and film cameras.

I also knew I would have to develop and scan the film myself. I learned how with the help of YouTube, and now I develop both black and white, and color negatives. The more I shot with film the more I liked it. I prefer the look of the film and feel of a film camera over digital. While most people will fall for the trending hype of film photography, buy a Leica, shoot a few rolls, and then quit because of the cost. I know I will continue using it. The love mystery of the photo. It is thrilling not to know what is on the film until it’s developed.

The look and feel of film is something we will not get from a modern digital camera and is probably a matter of time until camera companies start releasing film cameras again. I wrote an Instagram story a few months ago… “People will spend thousands of dollars on digital cameras, just to process the images to look like film.” Some people may agree with me others will disagree.

London – Ricoh GR1V . Fujifilm Neopan 400

Since shooting street photography I developed a connection with rangefinder cameras. I purchased a Leica M3, M6 TTL, Minilux Zoom, Contax G1, G2, Ricoh GR1V, and Fujifilm 645 medium format. My favorite’s are the M3 and M6. Not because they’re “Leica”, but because they are excellently built. They are so simple to use and shoot so smooth. Besides the FujiFilm 645, the others are more electronic and feel like I am shooting a digital camera on film.

Tokyo – Ricoh GR1V . Fujifilm Neopan 400

I have a very simple shooting style. When I use a digital camera, I always shoot manual, RAW + Jpeg, and always use Acros film simulation. When I shoot film I mainly use B&W, but will occasionally use color. My favorite film stock for black and white is Fujifilm Acros I & II, and color stock is either Kodak Portra 400 or FujiFilm Pro 400H.

When I go out for a shoot I take 1 camera either film or digital not both, 1 lens, extra batteries, or plenty of film. When I post-processing I use SilverFast to scan my film, and Adobe Lightroom to process. I always try to re-create my photos as to how I saw it using only the lighting sliders, tone curve. and sharpening. I DO NOT use presets, filters, or alter (in Photoshop) any of my street photos.

Leica M3 . Fujifilm Acros

My Street Photography Gear:

Digital cameras:
Fujifilm X-Pro2, X-Pro3, GFX50R

Film cameras:
Leica M3, M6 TTL, Minilux Zoom
Contax G1, G2
Ricoh GR1V
Fujifilm GS645S

Lenses – Digital:
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 , 23mm f/1.4, 23mm f/2, 35mm f/1.4, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/2, 56mm f/1.2
Fujifilm GF 43mm f/2.8 , 63mm f/2.8

Lenses – Film:
Leica 50mm f/2 Summicron
Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 Biogon
Carl Zeiss 45mm f2 Planar T* and 90mm f2.8 Sonnar T*

"I was born and raised in Pilsen on the South Side of Chicago. I have had an artistic background since a young age, drawing and painting in different mediums. I have a college degree in graphic design and later studied photography at The New York Institute of Photography. I have been a photographer for 10 years shooting landscapes, portraits, and finally settled into street photography. I shoot both digital and film, and develop, and scan myself. I have shot with all major camera brands but converted to Fujifilm in 2016."

6 Comments

  1. This article rings familiar with me. First off, and non-photography related, I too was in the Air Force and stationed in Japan, with lots of time at Kadena.

    Secondly, I have accumulated way too many cameras. Cameras that I dreamed of for years now sit unused because of the difference between the “idea” of that camera being a game changer and the reality of how similar things get when you distill everything down to f-stop, shutter speed and for film cameras the emulsion used.

    I have many of the same cameras in your collection, yet I can’t remember the last time that I put film in my Leicas or medium format Rollies.

    I now use Fujifilm cameras as my primary digital system, but initially it was an experiment. I bought an XT2 with a single 23mm lens, telling myself that was all I need. Now I have 3 bodies and eight lenses. This clutters the brain everytime I go out for a shoot. Which body? Which lens(es)? Decisions weigh you down.

    I enjoyed reading your posting, seeing many of my life experiences in your story. I wonder how productive I would be if I stopped with that single XT2 and 23mm lens.

    1. It always starts off as only “1 camera”. I do not know how many times I told myself I do not need to buy anymore cameras. Next week I find myself searching the bargain bins.

      I am not interested in new digital cameras because I find myself shooting more film these days. I think the XP3 will last me a few years

      you have a great setup with a 23mm and Xt2.

  2. proof that no matter what you’re shooting, your editing will tend to be the same therefore null any difference in camera.

    1. I agree. I have had a photographer friend who some how just automatically assumed I would buy cameras “to make me a better photographer” or “my photos to be the best”. No matter how many times I tried explaining that I buy cameras, just because I like cameras.

  3. Love the Pictures. I remember the days that I would lay on the floor to take pictures of student’s doing preformance just for the perfect picture. Keep up the wonderful talent you have.

  4. DEAR RICKY,OLD MAN IS VERY PROUD OF EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ACHIEVED,GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS IN COMPANY OF YOUR FAMILY.KEEP DOING WHAT YOU LOVE.HUERTAS GENARATIONS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The maximum upload file size: 96 MB.
You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other.
Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded.