How Fujifilm helped me love photography again

Can a tool, a product or a system make you enjoy a process more? I think so, and I have proof – because Fujifilm helped me love photography again.

My first job out of school (circa 2002) was for a company called Warehouse Express (they go by Wex Photo Video now) where I answered phones and processed finance applications. Quickly I moved to sales and spent most of my day talking to photographers of all types. From amateur to professional and everything in between. At the time I had little interest in photography beyond an old film camera that I had been given by a family friend (I wish I still had that camera!) and cameras on phones wasn’t a thing yet. Facebook was still two years from being a thing and we didn’t yet have that desire to document every waking second of our lives.

Not long after I progressed to a sales role. I figured that it would make sense to buy a digital camera and thankfully the staff discount scheme was really good. Digital cameras had been around for a while but they were only just becoming affordable and producing good results. I bought a small Canon IXUS camera. Nothing fancy but it had great reviews and I liked the design (always important). I took it home and immediately started taking photos of things around my home. Pets, flowers, my messy room and so on. Within days I was completely hooked. I was a photographer!

My newfound skills were preserved in a photo album (remember those!?) using a photo printer I bought at the same time. I would show them to anyone who was interested and I was very proud of what I had created. Unbeknownst to me, my mother took said album and showed it to her friends behind my back. They were also impressed and asked me to photograph their wedding. I said no. Three times! But I eventually agreed to photograph their wedding using a ‘proper camera’ that I could borrow from work. Later that Summer I shot my first wedding and my ego was bulging. Looking back now, those images were terrible. Truly awful but they liked them and I thought to myself “I’m a professional photographer now”.

Fast forward 7 years and I had shot in excess of 80 weddings, shot portraits, commercial projects and even a London club night with the big dog Tim Westwood himself. I had owned at least 10 cameras in that time (it’s probably a lot more) and had every accessory, gadget and gizmo going. But my life changed a lot in 2009 as my day job succumbed to the same fate that many did after the 2008 financial crisis. I was made redundant. Instead of getting another job, I headed to Australia, camera in hand, for the adventure of a lifetime. After almost six months of excellent soul development courtesy of Australia’s finest VB and Goon (if you know, you know), I returned home to a miserable UK and instantly wanted to return. So I set about finding a new career that would allow me to emigrate. I sold all my camera gear and joined the NHS with the aim of becoming a Paramedic.

The Paramedic thing happened but clearly the emigration thing fizzled out. I would continue to take photos but mostly of things I attended and I reduced my camera gear to the bear minimum. I only owned two cameras in almost 11 years. I’d lost the love for photography. Maybe through lack of exposure or maybe because 80 plus weddings drained some of the joy from just creating great images.

That all changed late last year though. I needed a new video camera. One that would take great 4K video but not break the bank. I settled on the Fujifilm X-T3. It wasn’t a new camera but wasn’t that old either. The specs for video were amazing for the price and it seemed to be well loved on YouTube. With a chunk of change in my pocket, I went down to my old employer and bought my first new camera in over six years. I got it home and just like that first little camera I bought in 2003, I took photos of stuff around my house and things in the garden. I was genuinely excited to take photos again.

Now I own a batch of lenses, a second Fujifilm camera, a ton of accessories and most importantly I am taking loads of photographs again. Mostly just for the fun of it. They’re not always great images but the process makes me happy and I think the camera itself has a lot to do with it. The X-T3 (and almost all Fujifilm X Series cameras) has a wonderful tactility to it. It has a great array of dials on the top of the camera allowing you to set-up your shot in just the way you want. They look great too with a sort-of vintage aesthetic that almost makes them a fashion accessory to boot.

Once you’ve taken the shot, the result is unique too. Not because Fujifilm makes better quality cameras (in 2021 all the major brands make great quality images), it’s because they have a ‘look’ that other cameras just don’t. To say they look filmic seems cliché but it’s fairly accurate. Lastly, the range is accessible. Normally to get the best a brand has to offer, you have to spend many thousands on just the body but with Fujifilm, that isn’t the case. The camera bodies range in price but go no higher than £1800 (my X-T3 cost a lot less than that and that was with a very good lens) and many of the lenses are very affordable whilst still offering great performance. It’s no wonder that there are a million ‘Why I switched to Fujifilm from XXXXX’ videos on YouTube.

I know that I could probably get a technically better camera from the likes of Sony and Canon but I’d have to spend much more and I feel the process wouldn’t be as enjoyable. The Fuji system has captured my imagination and I honestly think I wouldn’t change to another brand even if I won the lottery. I’m fairly sure that Fujifilm doesn’t make me a better photographer but it definitely makes me love photography again. And isn’t that the point of a hobby!?


All photos in this article were taken on the Fujifilm X-T3 by David Tillyer