My street photography journey with the Fuji X-T3 and the 23mm F2
My name is Philipp Meiners. I am 35 years old and I live in a small town (Pop: 30,000) in Northern Germany. Street photography has been my passion for almost one and a half years now, and the Fuji X-T3 with the 23mm F2 lens helped me a lot on this journey. But let us start from the beginning.
Since my teenage years, photography was always present in my life. My dad used to have film cameras when I was young and he carried them with him on our family trips and holidays. When I was getting older I also had a small film camera. Later, when digital cameras became more and more affordable, I bought a Pentax K-30 with an 18-135mm lens. This camera boosted my photography.
I was taking pictures more carefully. My snapshots turned into more composed shots. Still, I was not focussing on a specific genre of photography. I really liked that camera, but within 5 years I had autofocus problems three times. So I thought it was time to get a new camera. I decided to buy a Fuji X-T3 with the 23mm F2 lens, which I never regretted a second yet.
The reason for this is simple: I wanted a camera with a good design, fast and accurate autofocus, a good video quality, interchangeable lenses, an easy way for dialling in manual mode, good high ISO shots, and most importantly, a system I can rely on. I found all of this in the Fuji X-T3.
I chose the 23mm F2 lens because I wanted to limit myself on the streets. This lens was also very affordable. 23mm was the perfect choice for me. It has a great angle to shoot street photography, the image quality is amazing and the aperture of F2 is enough for me on the streets.
How did I get into street photography?
At the end of July in 2018, my wife and I had a sabbatical and we started a one year trip around the world. I still had my Pentax K-30 with me and took some good landscape shots, but I quickly realized that this genre of photography did not satisfy me enough.
Almost at the end of our journey, in May 2019, we were in Hoi An, Vietnam. This town is well known for its tailoring and the lampshades which hang everywhere. My wife wanted to visit a class, where she can make her own lampshade. I decided to go on a walk through the town to do street photography intentionally.
I walked around the town and shot people on the streets for about two or three hours and had a lot of fun. Since that day I was more and more focussing on street photography. It changed my way of seeing the streets. It changed my way of doing photography.
The coronavirus and the impact it had on my street photography journey
Having a new camera at the beginning of 2020, I finally walked around my small hometown but was not really satisfied with the outcome. I noticed that I still compare the streets of Germany to Vietnam. I had to learn to deal with what I have in front of my house. Then, in March, the lockdown came. What should I do?
I started to watch YouTube Videos, bought my first street photography books and challenged myself on the streets with different topics: lines, reflections, light and shadow or a specific color. What I learned: small towns do also have plenty of possibilities for street photography, you just have to find and see them.
On my journey, in terms of black and white photos, Vivian Maier, Alan Schaller, Sean Tucker and Mark Fearnley inspired me the most. In the case of street photography in color, which I also do, the images of Constantine Manos and Nikos Economopoulos had the biggest impact on me.
When the first lockdown was over I started to visit cities that are not more than 200km away from my hometown. I wandered around the cities over hours and hours and kilometers and kilometers to get better. The lesson I learned very quickly was: You have to go out and shoot as much as you can. During the walks, I tried different techniques like hunting and fishing and I like both.
When I am hunting, I like to shoot in aperture priority mode with auto ISO and a shutter speed of at least 1/125. The aperture is mostly on F5.6, but I change the settings depending on the weather and light. When I am fishing, I focus on composing my image first. While fishing I shoot everything fully manual. In these cases, I love the Fuji X-T3 for the possibility to dial every setting very quickly.
After the first 2 months, I noticed the images that attracted me the most were high contrast black and white as well as minimalistic shots.
99% of Street Photography is all about failure. To be honest: sometimes, at the end of a day, I don’t have a single shot that I really really like, but on other days I come home with two or more. That’s the part of the game of street photography.
While walking around the streets I forget everything around me. I like this feeling a lot. When I get a good shot, I am very happy, and the whole day was worth the travel and walking.
In my summer holidays, I started my first street photography trip to three different cities: Amsterdam, Cologne, Frankfurt. In these seven days, I was walking around the cities every day with my Fuji X-T3 in my hand. The Fuji X-T3 with the 23mm F2 never disappointed me a single day when I was out.
Sometimes I need an even wider angle for some good reflection photos in puddles. And in other situations, I need a zoom lens to get good shots. I am very happy to have the possibility to change my lenses, even though I have the 23mm F2 99% of the time mounted on my X-T3.
So far, besides the 23mm F2 lens, I also own the 55-200mm lens. I bought this lens because I wanted to have the flexibility in upcoming vacation trips and also for some street photos, even though I don’t like the compression of a street photo with a zoom lens too much. But without this lens, my most favorite shot of 2020 wouldn’t have been possible or I had to crop the image crazily.
All in all, I can say that street photography changed my style and passion for photography big time. Finally, I found a genre in photography that I can do everywhere at any time. The Fuji X-T3 with the 23mm F2 WR is a system I can rely on in any occasions: bright sunny days, cloudy days, rainy days and at night.
What satisfies me the most is the combination of a holiday trip with opportunities to take street photos. I hope that I’ll have plenty of opportunities for this in 2021. Please feel free to visit my homepage or Instagram account for more pictures.
“My name is Philipp Meiners. I am 35 years old and I live in a small town (Pop: 30,000) in Northern Germany. Street photography has been my passion for almost one and a half years now, and the Fuji X-T3 with the 23mm F2 lens helped me a lot on this journey. “
January 11, 2021 @ 2:58 pm
“99% of Street Photography is all about failure…”
Yep. I can’t believe that I use to do this with film. At 15 to 20 Dollars per roll with processing depending on the emulsion, that 99% sure could add up. I just bought a new X-T3 (my fourth Fuji), justifying it by adding up the number of photos that would equal the cost of the camera if it was a film using model. It’s a bargain.
I like your high contrast B&W images. Lots of jet black negative space really makes the subject pop. Thanks for sharing your story.
January 12, 2021 @ 3:43 pm
Thank you Albert..I’m glad you like it. Have fun with your X-T3
January 17, 2021 @ 10:44 am
Great images and an exciting story Philipp. I too have the X-T3 but tend to use the 23mm f1.4. Just got an X100V which seems extremely good too, perhaps that camera interests you too?
January 19, 2021 @ 7:44 pm
Thank you Andrew. Yeah I like the concept of the x100v but I like to have the opportunity to change my lenses if I feel like it.
January 23, 2021 @ 4:33 pm
Love your photos. Do you have a favorite recipe on the settings….such as nr-2, hightlights + or -.
Thx for any tips
February 8, 2021 @ 10:15 am
thank you. I’m glad you like it. No I do not have an in camera recipe. I do have a preset in Lightroom which I use very often and adapt every photo.
February 9, 2021 @ 2:17 am
Nice write up, Philipp. I enjoyed your images.
February 16, 2021 @ 1:05 pm
Thank you Tim. Appreciate it.
February 13, 2021 @ 11:58 am
Nice inspirational article and images Philipp – please add your insta details, would like to follow you.
February 16, 2021 @ 1:07 pm
Hey David. thank you for your kind words about the article. My insta details are right under the whole article just under my profile picture. Just klick and you’re there:)
February 17, 2021 @ 7:41 pm
Thank you, Philipp – don’t know how I missed it!
April 10, 2021 @ 8:33 am
Thanks for sharing, Philipp. Great photos! I also spent some time in Vietnam in 2019 with an X-T3 and the 23mm f/2. I loved that setup and I’m excited to be able to go back one day and do some more exploring.
Have a nice day. Greetings from Berlin.
April 11, 2021 @ 6:19 pm
Hey Darryl. Thanks for responding to my article. Yeah I also wish to go back with the experience I now have. It would be a whole other experience!
March 1, 2022 @ 5:59 pm
Very beautiful work. I love the contrast of your black and white. Could you share the BW recipe you used for these photos? Are the photos straight from the camera or did you do some post processing? Thanks.
September 5, 2022 @ 4:26 pm
Thx Julio. All photos are edited in Lightroom. At that time there was no particular recipe.