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Top Pic of the Week: Al Arthur

Congratulations to our Top Pic of the Week, Al Arthur. Read to learn more about the production of his photos.

How long have you been a photographer & how did you begin your journey.

I've been calling myself a photographer for about 5 or 6 years. My father was a hobbyist photographer, but my career started in IT for many years. It was only when digital cameras became available that I took an interest in the technology and gadgetry first, then more into the creative possibilities.

How would you describe your photographic style?

Evolving. I prefer darker, low-key images with plenty of shadow, sometimes high contrast. But really I'm interested in have a photographic voice rather than a style, exploring what I want to say or convey through the images. My personal projects are still many and varied at the moment, which is fine, but I see them becoming more refined over time.

Hat | Washington Square Park | Fujifilm X100F

There was a street performance going on, as there so often is, in the park so a crowd had gathered and I happened to notice a woman with this great hat standing near me. I kept the camera low to shoot a few frames and when she glanced down it her face was in deep shadow.

A slight crop and increase in contrast to get closer and emphasize the line of the rim of the hat.

What is your favorite genre to shoot? What tips do you have for shooting some of your favorite genres?

This might sound like an evasive answer, but my favorite is just being a photographer. Having a camera and photographing the scenes and surroundings and people, whether that's with family or at an event or on the streets.

Street photography can be the most enjoyable and the most frustrating, often depending on my mood and attitude. I find it a great help to have a camera ready to grab at home, for those moments when the window light is great or it’s a special moment or even a mundane moment that could still be visually interesting. Photograph what interests you, what you love, what happens to catch your eye, but be willing to put in the time and effort to make it look the way you want it to.

What advice or tips would you give to other photographers regarding finding their style?

I tend to think that there's too much emphasis on style at the moment. Everyone seems to talk about being consistent, have a consistent Instagram feed, using similar colors. It's pushing photographers to stick to one style, which might be fine if they love it. I know I'm influenced in the same way too, but I still want to experiment. I think a true style does tend to develop over time as you understand what you like most visually, but there's nothing wrong with intentionally choosing to shoot in a specific style too.

Portrait | Manhattan | Fujifilm X-T3 w/ 35mm f/2

I met Robert on the street, I think it was in lower Manhattan. We chatted for a while and we wasn't sure whether he wanted a portrait but then decided it might be useful for his Facebook account.
As in the other shots, I'm aiming for a certain tone in the highlights, a silvery look to them. I always enjoy the way that a hood frames and emphasizes a face. His eyes were very dark but I wanted to be careful to retain the small highlights and detail in them.

 Are you a film shooter or digital shooter?

 Mostly digital, but with more film gradually creeping in.

What cameras are in your current collection and which is your favorite to shoot with?

Fujifilm X-T3 is my main camera, with my old Fujifilm X-E1 and my wife's X-T20 as backup, plus a Pentax K1000 and Ricoh GR1v for film. The X-T3 is easily the better camera but there’s still something about the X-E1, in its size and simplicity, that I enjoy more.

 What gear are you hoping to add to your collection?

I sold a Fujifilm X100F last year and miss it, so maybe another F or older X100T while waiting for the next edition and so I can properly retire the X-E1. I’m interested in trying the new little Fuji 16mm lens. For film I might replace the Pentax and Ricoh with an Olympus OM-1 or Canonet Q17.

Trombone | Noho, Manhattan | Fujifilm X100F

 He was playing his trombone on the street late one evening so I asked if he'd like a few portraits while he played, then I took a few more and this was my favorite.

A simple b&w conversion from Raw using one of the Exposure X4 film presets followed by tweaks to the contrast and vignette.

Thank you, Al, for allowing us to share these photos! Check out more of his work on Instagram and his website.