From time to time members of the Fuji X Aus community become members and then take up long term commitments in other countries. Some may even be forced to flee Australia for tax avoidance. We don’t ask too many questions. Fortunately, we are a forgiving bunch and allow these members to continue to be a part of the community and contribute in whatever way they can. One such member is our International Man of Mystery Robert Owen Jones. You may recall a blog I published a while ago about a meet up we had with Robert the last time he was in town. You can check that one out here!
Robert is a regular contributor to our group with the posting of his images as well as providing advice to others and engaging in group discussions. He is currently located in Morocco and has taken a liking to use his Fujifilm X Series gear for shooting portraits and street work using his amazing location to colour his images. Using the power or morse code, we were able to hold an interview so I could get to know more about this man of mystery.
Thanks for taking the time to chat Robert. Can you tell me a little or a lot about your photographic journey? When did you first decide to take up photography and at what point did you realise you had an eye for the style of shooting you love?
I have always loved photography. I had a simple 35mm camera in my teens, but couldn’t afford to process the film often. My first Fujifilm would have been a disposable camera in the late 80s. I used Canon (gasp) for a long time, before getting a Konica Hexar RF in 1999 (always Fujifilm Velvia and Ilford black and white film). Then work swamped me and it’s only been the past couple of years that I have returned to photography. I’d forgotten so much! Now, every day, a fresh experience awaits. At the moment I’m enjoying discovering new genre. If I have any distinctive style it is my love of colour, so Fujifilm is the perfect system for me.
You find yourself in Morocco on a sabbatical with time and motivation to get out and shoot? Where do you head to? What are some of the more amazing shooting spots where you live?
Morocco is such a visually rich country that every street offers a fresh adventure. Even though the country is half the size of NSW, it’s geography is incredibly varied from the rough Atlantic coast, the snow-capped mountains of the Atlas, and the serene emptiness of the Sahara. The most picturesque aspect of Morocco? Its peoples.
Do you find yourself having to be more safety conscious and what steps do you take to address that?
Morocco is perhaps surprisingly safe, and far less hostile an environment than anywhere else in the Muslim world. I never feel at risk. There is certainly less petty crime than Spain! That said on the street one has to be respectful of people’s privacy.
You have more recently been shooting a lot of portraits in exotic locations, what is it that draws you to this genre?
This is a mundane answer, but getting the 56mm APD lens at the start of this year pushed me to do a lot more portraiture. The lens is phenomenal and it has encouraged me to push my limits on portraits. It is a ‘must have’ for anyone using the X system.
Have you had any of your works published and if so, can you briefly describe how you came to have your work recognised by a publisher?
Serendipity, as I didn’t actively seek this out at first. My photos have been regularly featured by newspapers and magazines, like Delicious and WHO in Australia. And I’ve done many portrait sessions for artists, so I frequently spot my work in random press articles!
Can you tell the folks back at home what Fujifilm gear you enjoy shooting with for your various styles of photography – portrait, street, etc?
I currently have two X-system bodies, the X-H1 and the X-E3. I have most of the X-system primes and one zoom, the 100-400mm, which I adore. My favourite lens for the street is the 35mm. Next step for me is the GFX100, which I plan to buy as soon as I can find someone to sell it to me!
Where can people see more of your work and socials?
I have a five page spread coming out in next month’s issue of Australian Woman’s Weekly. And I publish a photo every day on Instagram at @ojrobert.