PHOTOGRAPHER: Karen Hutton
BASED IN: California, USA
KNOWN FOR: Landscape and travel photos characterized by beautiful lighting
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM GFX 50S Camera, X-Pro2 Camera, X-T2 Camera, FUJINON GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR Lens,GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens, XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens,XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Lens, XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens
Karen Hutton is a FUJIFILM X-Photographer whose creative and artistic personality radiates through her photos. Powerful lighting and a strong sense of mood characterize her images. As well as being an accomplished photographer, Karen is an experienced educator, hosting retreats for photographers all over the world. Here, Karen tells us about her experience switching to FUJIFILM cameras and the challenges involved in wildlife photography.
Why did you switch to Fujifilm?
I switched in May 2015, right before a month-long trip to France. My DSLR backpack had become so heavy, I toppled over at times – not that much fun. At the same time, I was craving a different paintbrush: smaller and lighter, for sure, but also with a particular color palette. I wanted certain tones and definition, and a much greater dynamic range than I was used to. I was also craving a better user experience. I’m a muscle memory girl and programmable buttons help keep me in my zone. When I first picked up a FUJIFILM camera, I knew I was home. I took it to France that year and have never looked back.
Is there a noticeable difference in your workflow using FUJIFILM gear?
Absolutely! It has made photography more fun and instinctive; the camera feels like a part of me. It has also sped up my post-processing workflow enormously. I don’t have to spend anywhere near as close to the amount of time I used to in order to create results that make my heart sing. That means less computer time, which is one of my top priorities in life right now. Also, I can post directly to social media from my smartphone if I want to, with minimum fuss and processing thanks to the FUJIFILM Camera Remote app.
What is your favorite animal to photograph?
I grew up with horses, so my lovely equine friends will always hold a special place in my heart. That said, I love the moments of connection in my wildlife photography more than anything else. When I experience the sweetness of another soul’s expression through my lens, it always makes me swoon.
Do you have a favorite wildlife image to date and, if so, why?
It sounds silly, but at the moment it’s an image I took of a cat. Admittedly, it’s not entirely ‘wild’ life. I was with my The Artist’s Voice Photography Retreat in Valbonne, France and we were wandering about when moments are discovered with our cameras. I was using my FUJIFILM X-T2 and XF23mmF2 R WR lens. This cat saunters out, curious to know what was going on, but wanting to look nonchalant and cool at the same time.
I watched him taunt my students, got used to his rhythm, and learned what he found irresistible. Then I got my exposure, ISO, and aperture set up and kneeled down for the catch. The cat walked right into my lens – and bam! I caught the moment. The cat would have been mortified if he’d known. I giggled in a slightly evil and thoroughly satisfied manner. Any image that makes me laugh with satisfaction becomes an immediate favorite.
How do you think FUJIFILM gear has enhanced your experience of photographing wildlife?
X Series cameras’ speed, beautiful colors, tone, and definition all make photographing wildlife a joy. They’ve come a long way since I first switched from DSLR. At first, mirrorless in general seemed slow. Not anymore. I nail my wildlife shots because of the speed and incredible OIS of my favorite FUJINON lenses. It honestly makes the entire experience a sheer delight.
What is an essential tip or piece of advice you feel aspiring wildlife photographers need to know?
Develop the ability to predict what the animal you’re photographing is going to do. That ability to anticipate is golden – and it has to become instinctive. Only then can you snag ‘the perfect moment’, and not the one that happens right after it.
In your opinion, how do you establish a unique style when photographing wildlife?
Like any other kind of photography, I think you have to focus on what you love and commit to it with all your heart: the type of animal; the story you want to tell; the distance you want to capture it from; and the behavior you hope to capture. I believe that each animal has a soul and something to say. I love to photograph animals in a moment of bliss – they have this irresistible presence that makes my heart soar. I also believe the Earth has a soul and that it expresses itself in the most divine ways. I love capturing that, too.
No matter what kind of photography I’m engaged in – be it wildlife, landscape, or travel – I get a great deal of satisfaction out of capturing these soulful moments that make me laugh, sigh, or even cry. I believe that if you want to establish your own unique style, you need to commit to whatever you love most, with all you’ve got.
If you could go back to your early days as a pro and do something different, what would it be?
It isn’t really something I have the power to change, but I wish that digital cameras had been available much earlier than they were. I, sadly, had to quit photography a long time ago because darkroom chemicals made me sick and that meant I had to wait 20 years before I could come back to it. On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t be who I am right now if I had taken a different path and, honestly, I wouldn’t change that for anything.
Karen Hutton is a compensated FUJIFILM X-Photographer.
To see more of Karen’s work, visit her website.
This article is based on content that originally appeared on Wild Planet Photo Magazine.
To explore the full X Series lineup visit X Gear Chooser.