Bryan's Grandma's last trip to Welk's

This is one of my favorite things to do: family house parties. They rule. The people are themselves, comfortable, relaxed. There’s always kids around which —for me— makes the shoot waaaay more fun. I thrive when I am photographing kids playing.

When he contracted me, Bryan told me that his grandma was not feeling too well and that she could not travel all that much as her health was failing. Maybe so but she is a fire cracker of a woman. She told me one thing that struck me especially: at that party, there were 2 sets of 4 generations and she was at the center of it… I mean, that’s pretty incredible.

This was a beautiful party and I loved being there to record it.

Here are some of my favorite stills from the day:

Why I shot this family party with my (new) Fujinon 23mm f1.4

Making the decision

I had just bought a new lens, the fantastic Fujinon 23mm f1.4 to pair it with my X-T2 and I was anxious to try it, so I decided to bring it to the family reunion I was shooting. I usually shoot with zooms because they afford me some added invisibility than when I shoot with prime but I own an X100s (already paired with a 23mm prime lens) and I absolutely love this camera. Using the X100s, I discovered the 23mm (a 35mm in full frame) was my absolute favorite focal length. 

Watching Sadie pass
Coming in


I quickly found out that the 1.4 that although the focal length and aperture was perfect for interiors (especially at night), it is also imperative to have a lightning fast auto-focus and very quick fingers as people at parties move a lot. Thank god I had updated the software the day before. I was expecting to have a lot of rejects because I shot a lot between 1.4 and 2 but found that the X-T2 had helped me nail almost every shot. That was an excellent problem to have. 

I had so much fun shooting with this lens. it helped me get deeper shadows and better highlights than with my zoom lenses and found the lens fast, sharp and crisp. It was everything I was hoping for.

Brenda is dancing

A different kind of zooming

Photographers often say that they "make pictures" instead of "taking pictures" because making implicitly mean that you are creating something rather than grabbing it (i.e. taking photos). I used to think it was a pompous way of phrasing the act of photographing but I have come around to the formulation because 1). words matter and have meanings and 2). I found that the 23mm f1.4 was making me more creative because I had to work harder for the photos... I was "making" the picture rather than feeling that I was "taking" it... like I do when I use a zoom. It shifted my frame of mind for all the right reasons. 

Generally speaking, I like to shoot pretty wide to give context and story to the photo but I also will shoot pretty tight on my subject when their expression is just too good. Shooting with a 23 made me feel like I was getting in people's faces more than I'd like if I want to remain invisible to my subjects but on the other hand, the members of the family saw me as one of the guests rather than seeing me as a photographer... it had its advantages. I was visible but not paid too much attention to and it gave me an added on intimacy with the family I usually don't get otherwise... something to remember. 

This family reunion is a lot fun
a girl and her dog

Covering My Ass

99% of the time, I will 2 use Fuji cameras with 2 Fuji zoom lenses. Call me typical but I cover my bases with the exclentissimo 16-55mm and 50-140m. I found that shooting with the 23mm the entire time felt completely natural to me and after a while forgot I had a bag full of lenses. Again, the "lack" of options made me more creative.

The only time I switched lenses was for the family portrait and found myself quickly switching back to the 23 black beauty after it was done. Grrraaaoor... I was quickly falling in love. Portraits, wide shots, actions shots, I was getting it all without a problem.

What I thought was going to be a challenge was proving to be a delight and something that felt like an extension of me... All 7.7.7. (cue the slot machine sounds) 

the Luz family reunion