Photography as a personal project
I have always liked personal projects. A personal project is something you do in your spare time, something to which you dedicate with all your passion and interest and that you do with no obligation, setting your own goals. I am a computer scientist working in the Spanish public administration, and I have always had plenty of spare time that I have dedicated to various interests.
One of them is programming, thanks to which I have developed several shareware projects: software that I have built for myself and then sold from my own website. I also like reading, listening to music and walking, although these are mere hobbies with no goal other than the enjoyment of each of these activities. Since a couple of years ago, photography has become not just a hobby but my newest personal project.
I have been interested in photography for many years. In the beginning, I used to simply take pictures while travelling and at some family events. I was the camera guy there. But when my daughter Fatima started doing Classical Ballet, I wanted to take pictures of her performances at the small theaters where she performed. That was hell: theaters are dark places, and amateur performances don’t usually have very good light.
At the time, I had a Micro Four-Thirds camera, which I later changed to a Nikon APS-C, but I still couldn’t get the pictures I wanted. About 3 years ago, my friend Alejandro Furti started talking to me about a not so popular camera brand: Fujifilm. I started doing my online research, and in June 2019, I sold all my Nikon gear, including my lenses, and bought a Fujifilm X-T30 with the Fujinon XF18-55mm f2.8-4.
Soon after I switched camera, my photos clearly leveled up. The electronic viewfinder allowed me to make better exposures and spend less time editing. Its size and light weight allowed me to carry the camera anywhere. My love for photography returned.
I love taking pictures in the street, trying to capture the atmosphere of whatever city I’m at. Street photography allows me to do two of my favorite activities: walk randomly around a city and take pictures on the way. When I travel I usually carry the camera on my chest, and I observe the city and take pictures of everything that catches my attention.
I also carry the camera when I do other activities, such as participating in the Moors and Christians festivities in Novelda, the town where I live. Taking pictures while marching at the parades is great fun and gives you an unusual perspective for this kind of photos.
In Autumn 2019, shortly after buying my X-T30, I bought a book that strongly influenced the way I take photographs. The book is ‘Microgeographies of Madrid’ by Belén Bermejo, an editor of fiction and poetry books who was also a photography enthusiast and sadly passed away in June 2020.
The book begins by explaining that microgeographies are everyone’s particular maps, the ‘non-places’, or the places without enough entity to be considered as such. Anonymous or in-transit places. In the book, Belén shows photographs of her microgeographies together with texts written in a beautifully poetic style.
The book made me reflect on the possibility of taking photos of the everyday: those places that you pass by so many times daily without even noticing but often are of great beauty. I decided to talk to my colleagues of the Photographic Association of Novelda about the book and we agreed to start a collective project on the microgeographies of Novelda, which is currently open to contributions.
The project Microgeographies of Novelda has made me revisit my town with a more relaxed perspective, finding ‘not-places’ that are as beautiful as unexpected, observing how the city changes from the morning to the afternoon, from one season to another, from sunny to cloudy days. A return to photographing the everyday, to enjoying photography on a daily basis without having to wait for big trips or extraordinary events.
As a personal challenge, I decided to put two restrictions on myself when I started the microgeography project: I would only use prime lenses, and I would use ClassicChrome film simulation as a starting point when processing. I bought a Fujinon XF27 F2.8 due to its small size and low price, and I started going out on Sunday afternoons to take pictures.
The Fujinon XF27mm is a fantastic lens, small and very sharp, however, I decided to sell it and buy a Fujinon XF23mm F2 WR. The reason for this change was that with the 27mm I felt like I was missing a little bit of width; those extra 4mm, in terms of full-frame equivalency, were important for the type of photos I wanted to take, and the XF23 was the right lens for it.
The Fujinon XF23 has since become my favorite lens, its optical quality and focus speed are incredible, and I feel very comfortable using it. The only downside I find is that it is significantly bigger than the XF27. If I could design the perfect lens for myself, that would definitely be an XF23 F2 but in pancake size, similar to the XF27.
Currently, my photography equipment consists of a Fuji X-T30, a Fuji X-E2, an XF18-55mm F2.8-4 lens, an XF23 F2 WR lens and a Samyang 12mm f2 lens. I use Peak Design straps, and I really like square hoods. I think this equipment is enough to accomplish my photography personal projects comfortably.
I find it hard to keep up with the ephemeral rhythm of social networks, so I prefer to publish my photos on my own website and the website of the Photographic Association of Novelda.
“My name is José Luis. I am Esther’s husband and father of Fátima and Marcos. I work as a computer specialist and, when not with my family. I spend time reading, walking, programming and taking photos. I have spent plenty of time with other cameras, but fortunately, I am a Fuji fanboy since 2019.”