I have been a member of the Fuji X Aus Facebook group for a couple of years now and even had a stint as an administrator here in Melbourne. One of the key things that stands out and sets this group apart from other such groups, is its solid sense of community and shared values. I have joined and subsequently left other photography groups where poor etiquette and sometimes even nasty behaviour has gone unchecked. Individuals ruthlessly abusing others about their images or opinions that they have shared. It’s just an ugly scene and unfortunately a part of todays social media scene that I sincerely dislike. But in Fuji X Aus, the values of respect, support and encouragement are clearly evident. The admin team stand for no negative or disrespectful behaviour. So it is a safe space for people to share their work and opinions. And of course there is a shared love of all things photography and all things Fujifilm related.
Another key stand out of Fuji X Aus is that it achieves so much more than just administrating a forum. There are regular competitions designed to test the skill level of the more experienced photographers. And equally encouragement for all, regardless of skill set, to submit entries for more broader challenges. The Facebook page cover-photo is regularly changed to celebrate a great image captured by one of its members. And sometimes there are prize give-aways. Little things that are invaluable to the every day shooter. To augment this, the founders of the group have worked persistently to forge great relationships with retail outlets and with suppliers of photographic products and accessories. The stand out supporter of this community is Fujifilm Australia who are actively involved in keeping the admin team informed of upcoming events, supplied with Fujifilm merchandise to share with members and actually host events for all to enjoy.
Last Friday night one such event was held. The union of Fuji X Aus, Fujifilm Australia and Digital Camera Warehouse (a retail outlet in Melbourne and Sydney) hosted the Melbourne Photo Walk. This was opened to all Melbourne members of the Fuji X Aus community and as a result there were about 30 participants including the entire admin team for Melbourne. From Digital Camera Warehouse a number of staff attended including a manager from the Melbourne store who offered all participants a limited time discount on purchases – how cool is that?. Last but not least was Leigh from Fujifilm Australia. He is the Direct Market Communications Specialist for Fujifilm Australia. Leigh has been a critical contributor and support of the Fuji X Aus community. He has held many events such as this one and is always pleased to see members of our community take part. At a photo walk like this one, Leigh always brings a bag of Fujifilm camera gear. He is more than happy for people to borrow lenses to test out on their own cameras and also even borrow some of the newer cameras. On Friday night he brought along the Fujifilm GFX digital medium format camera beast and the recently released Fujifilm X-H1.
The event started at around 6:30pm so it was already well and truly dark – and cold. We met at Hammer Hall in the Arts Precinct and then walked down to Southbank, which runs parallel to the Yarra River. Leigh made some introductions and talked about the opportunity to win a prize for the best photo of the night. As is my experience with the events like this that I have attended, there was not a crazy rush to head off and capture that winning shot. When a group of camera nerds get together, especially this friendly group, they love to talk about all things photography. Recent travels, recent images seen on the Fuji X Aus Facebook page or Instagram, newly acquired gear and everything in between. And of course it is a perfect opportunity to get some face time with people that you otherwise only ever talk with via Facebook. The admin team were all on hand to make introductions, answer questions and to welcome newer members.
You will notice that most of the images I have included with this blog are of the participants. I love taking candid shots of people at events like this. Probably more so than perhaps spending the time to capture that desired landscape shot to win the prize. In fact I think that most of us enjoyed having willing models in each other to practice on. Over the two hour duration, I used my Fujifilm X-T2 with both the XF23mmF2 and the XF50mmF2 lenses. This is such a neat and minimal kit and is something that I can easily carry with me all day. I also had and used my Fujifilm X70. I love this little powerhouse of a camera and take it with me everywhere regardless of if I am taking my Fujifilm X-T2 or not. Along with this I also brought spare batteries and some lens cleaning gear. Finally I packed a tripod so that I could grab some long exposure shots. All in all, a manageable kit. I didn’t have a lighting kit although some brought some truly fancy lighting gear with them and I often piggy-backed the use of these in some of the shots you see here.
We strolled in groups, or pairs or solo to take various shots or catch up with people. The time flew by as it was such a nice experience and friendly atmosphere. But the good times didn’t end there. To cap-off the night, tables were organised at the Blue Train Restaurant inside Southbank and, thanks to the generosity of Fujifilm Australia, food and drinks were supplied for anyone that wished to take part. This was an unexpected but welcome surprise and comfort especially at the end of a cold night. It also allowed for more conversations about our shared passion for photography. The entire night was a lot of fun and for me personally, it was a night off from my usual parenting responsibilities – well at least for a few hours – and to be able to do what I love. Be an active member of this community. I got to capture some images I love, meet some great people, meet up with existing friends and see once again what an incredible community we have as a result of this group. Community is everything. Happy shooting.