Bill Fortney & Jack Graham’s FUJIFILM X-Photographers Travel and Nature Summit

Bill Fortney & Jack Graham’s FUJIFILM X-Photographers Travel and Nature Summit

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PHOTOGRAPHER: Jack Graham
BASED IN: Washington, USA
KNOWN FOR: Nature and landscape photography, as well as the annual FUJIFILM Summit
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM X-H1 Camera, X-T2 Camera, FUJINON XF14mmF2.8 R Lens, XF35mmF2 R WR Lens, XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens, XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens

Introduction

FUJIFILM X-Photographers Jack Graham and Bill Fortney are the organizers of the FUJIFILM X-Photographers Travel and Nature Summit, an annual photography retreat that gives attendees the opportunity to learn from, and shoot with, professional photographers. The next Summit is scheduled for late October in Townsend, Tennessee, near the Smoky Mountain National Park. We decided to catch up with Jack and Bill to discuss how the event started, what attracted them to FUJIFILM gear, and what they have learned in the process of educating others.

When did you start using FUJIFILM gear? What first attracted you to the X Series?

B: I used to be a technical rep for a DSLR camera manufacturer. I had shoulder surgery and the recovery period was lengthy. I simply could no longer carry full frame cameras and lenses, so I bought the FUJIFILM X10, which had just been released. I fell in love with the quality of the images and the sharpness of the lens. Before long I had bought an X-Pro1, an X-E1, and three XF lenses! By the time I retired from my role as a DSLR rep, I was already an undercover FUJIFILM photographer.

J: I began using the original X100 because I loved its retro look and I figured it would be a great “carry along” camera. However, when I saw the quality of the images I was amazed. I bought an X-Pro1 and a few lenses. When the X-T1 hit the market, I switched to Fujifilm and have never looked back. I now use an X-T2 and the new X-H1, along with an X-E3 as my “carry along” camera.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Bill Fortney
BASED IN: Kentucky, USA
KNOWN FOR: Nature and landscape photography, as well as the annual FUJIFILM Summit
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM X-Pro2 Camera, FUJINON XF14mmF2.8 R Lens, XF23mmF2 R WR Lens, XF35mmF2 R WR Lens, XF56mmF1.2 R Lens, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Lens

Jack Graham and Bill Fortney's annual FUJIFILM Summits: what are they and who can attend?
Jack Graham and Bill Fortney's annual FUJIFILM Summits: what are they and who can attend?

Is the FUJIFILM X-Photographers Travel and Nature Photo Summit solely for FUJIFILM X-Photographers? Or for FUJIFILM camera owners?

J: This event is open to everyone. We encourage those thinking about making the switch to mirrorless cameras to come to this event. They will get a great amount of knowledge that will help them make the decision.

What kinds of training takes place on these retreats?  

B: We take our attendees out on field sessions and give them hands-on help. We also hold critique sessions of the attendees work as well as lectures by FUJIFILM X-Photographers.

J: We usually bring in another FUJIFILM X-Photographer who has a different skill set to Bill and myself. We each give two presentations, the first of which is on how we use the FUJIFILM kit, and the second is on a more technical or inspirational subject.

How does it feel to know that you’re helping to shape the next generation of photographers? 

B: We emphasize composition and how to improve it. I’ve had a number of students tell me that attending the Summit was a turning point in their work.

J: I’ve been teaching photography and conducting workshops for over 20 years. I’ve had the opportunity see many folks grow and become great photographers before my eyes. That’s the reason I do what I do. There’s nothing better than seeing a former attendee achieve success and remembering what their images used to be like when they were new to photography. 

Yes, I am a professional photographer, but I increasingly see myself as more of a teacher. It’s very satisfying to see a student grow as a photographer and to know that my input might, in some small way, have helped them on their journey.

Jack Graham and Bill Fortney's annual FUJIFILM Summits: what are they and who can attend?
Jack Graham and Bill Fortney's annual FUJIFILM Summits: what are they and who can attend?

Do these summits continue to teach you about photography? 

J: After so many years conducting workshops, and now expanding into these summits, there is literally never an event at which I don’t learn something from my attendees. Anyone who thinks that they already know everything is sure to fail.

Is there a single piece of advice that you think helps beginner photographers more than any other?

B: Learn the basic concepts well and then practice, practice, practice! If you want to improve, you have to learn by doing.

J: I agree. Practice is key. A determination not to settle for mediocrity also helps. Improving at any art form requires dedication and hard work. The gear creates the opportunity to make a good photograph. The rest is up to you.

What does the future hold for you both?

J: I made myself a promise that I would get out a bit more, on my own, in areas I want to explore. I think it’s important for everyone to make some time for themselves.

B: More of the same: helping other photographers, enjoying photography, and continuing to learn more about my craft. 

Jack Graham and Bill Fortney are compensated FUJIFILM X-Photographers.

To see more of Jack’s work, visit JackGrahamPhoto.com.
To see more of Bill’s work, visit BillFortney.com.
To learn more about the FUJIFILM Travel and Nature Summit 2018, visit our Events page.

To explore the full X Series lineup visit X Gear Chooser.

Jack Graham and Bill Fortney's annual FUJIFILM Summits: what are they and who can attend?

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