Neill Soden is a photographer currently living in South Africa. He has a Fuji X100 and shares how he makes his portraits with the camera
If I see someone I would like to take a portrait of, I’ll get all my settings ready before approaching them, so I am ready to start shooting at once. I set it with my Custom 2 (B/W) in the Q-menu and get my focus point in the desired position. I will switch to the EVF, as it allows me to see my exposure and lighting as close as possible to the result I will get.
My black and white customs setting is B&W+red, highlights to +1 and shadows to +2. Auto ISO is on, so my Fn button is set to ND-filter if it is needed.
The key is to do it as quick as possible. Try not to take up too much of the person’s time and not too intrude too much. I will walk up to them with the camera loosely by my side. Getting it pushed straight into their face will not be welcomed by anyone.
After I greeted and asked how they are doing, I will ask if I can take the a photo. In the event of there being a language barrier, I will point at the camera and ask if I can take the image. If they happen to say no, I thank them and walk away. I rarely find people to not gladly accommodate you.
Once I start shooting, I will keep talking to them and tell them that I will only take a few shots. The trick is to actually keep talking to put them at ease, maybe ask a question here and there, but as you are trying to work fast, you don’t want them to talk too much to avoid funny facial expressions.
I do like to take the camera away from my face as much as possible when I talk. Once I done, I’ll show them the last shot I’ve taken. If I think I need another shot, I’ll ask to take one more quick one, always paying attention to their position, getting them in some shade, or getting the light on the face correct, or making sure the background does not have any distracting elements.
Once I taken the images, I’ll thank them and walk away. I am at the moment looking to buy a little portable printer, so I can give them a print to thank them for their time. This will be made even easier with the built-int Wi-Fi of the X100T.
The fixed lens prevents you from having to worry about wether another lens might have worked better, and you learn to adjust your thinking to think of the image instead of gear. The 35mm has been absolutely liberating. It is perfect for environmental portraits, as it let’s me capture a person in his immediate surroundings and include his here and now.
With the 35mm you have to get rather close to your subject to really make the 35mm shine. If you need the person/subject to have a good depth of field behind them, then being close is very important. Often people will be a little hesitant when you do this. As I go closer, I’ll explain that the lens is fairly wide and there is still a lot of background in the picture with them.
I have found that once I show them the first image, they will relax a bit and allow me to take some more.
About the photographer: