“Everything I See is Shaped by Light” – Interview with Benjamin Peacock
Hi Benjamin! Could you please start with an introduction and tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from, where you live, what you do, your hobbies and passions?
My name is Benjamin Peacock, I’m a commercial freelance photographer based in Florida, but originally I’m from Dorset, England. I have a huge passion for the photography industry, cinema, and helping others learn the trade.
Do you remember when you decided to become a professional photographer?
I grew up with a full-sized studio in my house, as my Father and Step Mother were both successful photographers in the UK. I would see the images they were proud of dotted around the house, in books, online and thought how much I wanted to see my creativity on not only my walls but other people’s, little did I know the buzz you’d get from seeing published work.
RIGHT: Fuji X-Pro3 . Fuji XF18mmF2 . f/2.0 . 1/8000″ . ISO 160
In addition to your work as a professional photographer, interestingly, we see that you also photograph as a hobby in your spare time. How important is it to develop your own personal projects, and how do they differ from your professional assignments?
I find it so important to shoot stuff that is separate from my day job, it keeps me interested in my craft, and it keeps me passionate. My personal work is a lot more my personal style, the colors, the focal length, and even the subjects. Professional work is how the client wants it to look, I don’t always agree with how the pro work looks, but if the client is happy, that’s all that matters to me!
Is this distinction between work and leisure also reflected in the choice of equipment? If so, in what way?
Absolutely is. In my day job, we run RED Geminis for film, and Sony (A1 and A7IV) for stills, the AF on the Sony systems is necessary with the run and gun style that we shoot and pair that with the Sony lens selection it’s really a good choice. I tried running the GFX system for a while, but the focus just wasn’t up to par yet. That reflected in my work and got frustrating, however if I was in a studio full time, maybe I could deal with it. The Fuji system (specifically the X-Pro 3) to me is special, it slows me down to where I want to be, it makes me think about composition, dialing in exactly how I want it, more than any other camera.
RIGHT: Fuji X-Pro3 . Fuji XF18mmF2 . f/2.0 . 1/6400″ . ISO 160
On a daily basis, or during a trip, what camera and lens setup do you usually bring with you?
On a recent trip to Europe, I took the X-Pro3 / 18mm f2 as I wanted to be as lightweight as I could be, and it turned out to be the most fun I’ve had with a camera in a long time!
Back home I try to have a Canon SureShot with Portra 400 on me at most times. Just to continue enjoying 35mm. It’s a cheap fun camera and can knock out fun images!
The Fuji X-Pro3 is a very peculiar camera that, at the time of its release, stirred the waters quite a bit, even among Fuji fans. In your opinion, was it a bold move by Fuji just to put it in the spotlight, or on the contrary, do you think Fuji knew precisely what X-Pro users wanted for the future of this line of cameras?
I’ll be honest we’ve all become so lazy with back screens, it’s just an assumption that they’ll always be one there, and when I first picked up the X-Pro3, I did think ‘hmmm’. But after a few days of use, it dawned on me that this is what we miss, it’s nice to look through a rangefinder, compose your shot and then review it later once the moment may have left. It’s a tease of some sort and enjoyable. The screens make us lazy, compose your photo, have faith in what you dialed in and enjoy it later. I did feel the film sim screen was unnecessary, I’ve seen many of those screens sadly have issues and it’s just another thing to go wrong. It’s a cool gimmick and nostalgic, but I could’ve happily been without that.
RIGHT: Fuji GFX50S . Fuji GF80mmF1.7 . f/1.7 . 1/4000″ . ISO 800
What are the advantages of the Fuji X system for this type of photography? And disadvantages?
I don’t think there’s many advantages of using any camera specific system in this day and age. All modern cameras are very capable, but what Fuji brings us is a feeling of nostalgia, fun ergonomics, a beautiful design, something nice to look at and maybe even a head-turner. I see people all the time with Sony, Canon etc and think nothing of it. But when I see someone shooting a Fuji whether it be something from the X series line up or a GFX it’ll always get a conversation going with me, and those people seem passionate about it. Could you say Fuji is more of a lifestyle in the industry, I think so. It’s certainly to me more of a vibe than anything else, I would say the same about Leica, but that a whole other talk.
Looking at your portfolio, immediately stands out your extraordinary ability to observe and identify the type of light available on each occasion and make the most of it, whatever its intensity and direction. How did you develop this skill? Would you mind sharing some tips with our readers?
I hate to answer this without sounding cheesy, but to me it’s all about light, everything I see is shaped by light, I love shadows, and love using highlights to frame a subject or area. I think this is just something that over time we notice more and more when doing this as a profession. It’s one thing being in a studio and modifying light how we want it, but being out and about it utilizing either natural light or ambience is another ball game altogether. I will say that sensors like the X-Trans CMOS 4 really help us pull so much detail from highlights and shadows that we can expose well enough to really use both ends of the spectrum and create a cool image.
RIGHT: Fuji X-Pro3 . Fuji XF18mmF2 . f/2.0 . 1/1400″ . ISO 320
We couldn’t fail to notice that you often use window light, but shooting towards them and using the backlight as a way of dictating the overall mood of your images. It’s almost a trade mark in your work. Could you tell us more about it, how does it change the whole reading of an image, and how you frame your photos with this light source in mind?
This question really falls into line with the previous one, which helps answer it haha. I love cinematic vibes, so having a backlight on a subject to me makes more sense, lighting from the front is usually unflattering. I think that utilizing the highlight exposure and lowlight exposure together helps create realism, our eyes don’t over expose when we are inside looking out, so the image shouldn’t either. As mentioned previously the sensors in cameras now allow us to bring back those highlights and gain detail in those areas all while exposing for the darker areas without crushing shadows, and without it looking too ‘HDR’, which isn’t something I’m personally into. I also love silhouettes, so given the opportunity, I’ll always attempt to get one, if it makes sense at the time.
RIGHT: Fuji X-Pro3 . Fuji XF18mmF2 . f/2.0 . 1/1700″ . ISO 640
RIGHT: Fuji X-Pro3 . Fuji XF18mmF2 . f/2.8 . 1/8000″ . ISO 640
RIGHT: Fuji X-Pro3 . Fuji XF18mmF2 . f/2.0 . 1/1600″ . ISO 320
RIGHT: Fuji X-Pro3 . Fuji XF18mmF2 . f/2.8 . 1/4000″ . ISO 320
RIGHT: Fuji X100V . f/2.0 . 1/60″ . ISO 1600
“My name is Benjamin Peacock, I’m a British freelance commercial photographer living in the USA. When not working, I love to travel and see new places, try new foods and meet new people.
I shoot on many formats of camera systems for work, but when I’m on my downtime, I always have a Fuji with me, whether it be the X100 for that street vibe, the X-Pro3 for some nostalgic feels, or the GFX for higher end necessities, I always feel like Fuji brings me back to the basics and helps me better myself in this trade that some call work.”