From darkness into the light!
Hi, my name’s Scott, and I am a street photographer from the south of England. I have a deep passion/obsession with photography & Fujifilm and spend my spare time researching and investing in Bitcoin/Blockchain Technology. I have a growing interest in NFT’s and am a big believer in exercise and its mental & physical benefits.
I grew up in the 80’s & 90’s a time before 9/11 changed the world. Drinking culture was a big thing, no mobile phones, no internet, just pubs, party’s and illegal raves (great times). But there’s a price for everything we do and over a period of 15 years fun turned to a major substance abuse problem, acute anxiety and a view of a concrete slab from 200 feet up, there’s no moment of enlightenment that stopped me just the simple fact that my will to live outweighed my will to die, all be it fractionally. Life can get out of control real quick if you let it.
Fast forward 15-20 years of recovery, a couple of kids, a lot of exercise (the best thing you can do if you have mental health problems), pushing myself to extreme limits, and the cherry on top of my long road to recovery, “Photography.” I feel my style and the way my images look are greatly influenced by the experiences I had and my journey from darkness into the light, and now life couldn’t be better! I used to think the substance abuse caused my mental health problems, but now I think maybe not, maybe the anxiety saved me, life’s a trip like that!
I started to develop a real obsession with street photography about 3 years ago and started off trying my hand at landscape photography with a Sony A7 which I picked up for £440 second hand, however with a family and a full-time job travelling to locations was not ideal & photography took a back seat, so I sold my Sony A7 camera and gave up on photography. However, after a few months, the itch to get out and capture images wasn’t going away, but this time I wasn’t going to splash out on a nice camera only to hardly ever get the chance to use it.
I started becoming obsessed with the way light interacts with shadows & the world around us, and I soon came to realise all that was needed to satisfy my growing addiction for this art form was my phone and being able to set foot outside my front door. I figured that if I could learn to capture good images with just a phone in a fairly mundane place then it would really help progress my skill set. I’ve read on a few occasions that you are better off spending your money on a plane ticket to a great location rather than gear to get good photos.
I tend to disagree, a normal location with basic gear is probably a better option, besides anyone can take good photos in a great location, right? And if something’s easy, you’re never going to get better. Quickly skipping back to the “Mundane” location mentioned above, where I live is actually one of the most beautiful places in the world, but what is pleasing to the eye does not always photograph well, at least not for my style of photography anyway.
For the next 6 months, I shot with my phone and edited all my images on it as well using Lightroom mobile, also creating my own presets. All my images are captured less than a mile from my front door, and with all my other commitments, I only manage to get out and shoot once, sometimes twice a week for a couple of hours, mostly at sunrise, sunset or at night, very rarely during the day. After a while, I figured I needed to be able to control ISO SS & f/stop as I wanted to start capturing moving subjects in my images, so started looking for some cheap mirrorless cameras.
My first purchase was a Canon M3, I managed to pick one up second hand on MPB.com, great place for second-hand gear by the way. The M3 was great for what I needed but had no viewfinder and the lens mount setup was all a bit complicated if I grew my lens collection and ever needed to upgrade bodies. I wanted a one mount ecosystem. I had heard great things about Fujifilm cameras so found myself the cheapest second-hand one I could and instantly fell in love, the button placements, menu setups and the overall ease of use just appealed to me immediately and couple that with the cult reputation of Fujifilm and it constantly inspires me to go out and shoot.
My requirements were simple, not needing fast autofocus or any other tech advancement, also I won’t carry anything that doesn’t fit in my pockets. Finally settling on a Fujifilm X-T100 for £200 plus an XC15-45mm lens for somewhere around £100 so it was £300 all in. Since I have added a TTArtisans 35mm F1.4 manual lens for £89 which pretty much lives on my Fujifilm, and am now looking to add an XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8.
All I carry with me is my camera, the lens attached to it and my mobile phone plus a spare battery that I never need. I started out looking for great light, studying the way it passes through stuff and interacts with the shadows, then it turned to geometry and clean lines in a minimal scene with the light, light being the most important thing because without it you have nothing. After a while, I wanted to add a subject, ideally a solitary person passing through the scene with the light behind them, so they became a silhouette.
Silhouettes are awesome because they create mystery and mystery sparks imagination. Once somewhere catches my eye, I will work that scene for as long as it takes to find the right angles and wait for the right subject. Get my exposure triangle set generally starting with shutter speed because of the moving subject, ISO as low as possible, F/Stop is a ring on the lens mostly around F8 at sunrise or sunset, at night it will be F/1.4-2.8. If shooting directly into the sun, I try and get the sun behind something so the image will be a lot cleaner.
If that’s not possible I’ll blow the sun out in post so it’s not a spot. I shoot in single-shot mode, not burst because I know where I want the subject to be and that’s when I capture the image whether the subject looks right or not. If it’s “not”, the image is tossed, but the most important thing is the subject being in the right spot, I never stage any images. I am also a big fan of creating double exposures by shooting into windows, pretty much the same process except for lining up a reflection from a window in the image.
I shoot raw but am starting to try out the double exposure feature on my Fujifilm for which you have to shoot in JPEG but you also get to use the full feature set on your Fuji like film simulations & recipes. However, because I have a lower end X-series the Double exposure feature is lacking some control and I do not have the full selection of film simulations so I may have to upgrade the body at some point.
I plug my camera directly into my phone and drop the images straight into Lightroom, either while I am out or when I get home, they go up to the cloud and store on my phone, so instantly I have them backed up in three locations, and I can edit them on any device I wish. I never use Photoshop, only Lightroom. I have a few presets that I apply to each image and then make adjustments from there, dropping the shadows & using mainly linear and radial gradients plus the tone curves.
I spent some time scrolling Instagram and came across three amazing photographers who greatly influenced me. The first was Mark Fearnley (@mark.fearnley), who is a London fine art street photographer, and his use of architecture, light & shadows with a solitary subject is absolutely fantastic, and I could spend hours studying his images. He’s a fisherman, he will set up an image and wait for foot traffic. The second is Tom (@bewaremyfuji) he also has great use of light, negative space and silhouettes. Tom also has his own colour scheme, which runs throughout his work and is just awesome.
Mark & Tom both shoot with Fuji however Tom takes using a Fujifilm X-series to the limit making use of every feature and setting, like shooting jpeg (which incorporates film simulations), creating his own recipes and my favourite, multiple exposures where he’s in a league of his own. The third photographer is Alan Schaller (@alan.schaller), who really needs no introduction, the founder of SPi (@streetphotographyinternational) and who is a master, shoots solely in black & white and uses a Leica, but I believe he used to shoot Fuji. Three amazing photographers and I urge anyone interested in photography and who hasn’t already to check them out. And remember “Photography’s a source, it’ll change your life, swear to god.” ✌️
“Hi, my name’s Scott, and I am a street photographer from the south of England. I have a deep passion/obsession with photography & Fujifilm and spend my spare time researching and investing in Bitcoin/Blockchain Technology. I have a growing interest in NFT’s and am a big believer in exercise and its mental & physical benefits.”