PHOTOGRAPHER: Chris Maestas
BASED IN: California, USA
KNOWN FOR: A varied body of work that includes landscape photography, sports videography, and more
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM X-T2 Camera, FUJINON XF16mmF1.4 R WR Lens, XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR Lens, XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens, X-T2 Vertical Power Booster Grip
Born and raised in California, Chris Maestas has been engaged in creative activities since his youth. In his early teens he played guitar and drums in bands, embarked on some mini tours and dreamed of one day playing to sold-out crowds. Fast-forward a few years and Chris has developed into a skilled photographer who is now in the process of establishing his own creative agency. We talked to Chris about the winding path of his career so far and asked him a few questions about what the future has in store.
So, Chris, how did you get into photography?
It wasn’t until about four years ago that I was introduced to “iPhoneography” while roaming around Long Beach with my buddy Ron. He was very creative and could turn ordinary photos into creative digital art using just his phone, which fascinated me. I started shooting with my iPhone 5 and, after a few weeks, decided to upgrade to a used DSLR camera I found at a local pawn shop.
Growing up in Southern California has been a blessing. I have had access to a plethora of unique locations, all within an hour’s drive. Beach, city, sand and snow – we have it all. That’s where the inspiration began: finding nearby places that I’ve never been to before, or places I’ve never taken my camera to.
You’ve developed into an excellent landscape photographer. What do you think is the key ingredient of landscape photography?
For the record, I don’t consider myself a great landscape photographer. I’m still a novice at best in my eyes, but I do think one core factor that can get lost or become skewed is maintaining that sense of discovery. I like images that communicate a sense of awe and excitement for either seeing a new landscape for the first time, or seeing a familiar landscape in a new light, angle or perspective.
Are there any rules or guidelines you tend to follow when you shoot landscape images?
I tend to allow the weather to dictate how I’m going to approach a scene. I enjoy long exposures, especially long exposures during the bright daylight with the use of ND and graduated filters. If the clouds are moving overhead and there’s good contrast between the clouds and the sky, you can achieve this painted, pastel look that I think looks really cool.
Other than that, I make decisions based on surveying the landscape, finding interesting light, subjects, lines, and angles.
How does the X Series help you realize your creative vision?
I shoot a decent number of time-lapses, so one of my favorite functions with the recent firmware updates is the built-in interval timer shooting. It makes the process practically seamless. No more hassling with an external cable or remote to achieve exposures longer than 30 seconds.
What X Series kit is in your bag on a typical shoot, and why do you choose these items?
My X-T2 is always in my bag, with the Vertical Power Booster Grip. The XF16mmF1.4 R WR is my go-to product photography lens, and the XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR is a versatile lens with a wide range of uses. For the longer shots, I jump to the XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR, which is another of my favorite lenses. My shooting time is fairly evenly split between these three lenses.
I also love filters. My filter system is the Formatt-Hitech 100mm Aluminum Holder, a Formatt-Hitech Firecrest 10 stop filter for long exposure shots, and a Soft Edge Neutral Density 0.9 filter for those clear horizon images. I also have a variable neutral density filter, which can be really handy for shooting video. This is because your shutter speed should be double your current frame rate to ensure your video doesn’t look choppy, and a variable ND filter can help you achieve this in a range of conditions. It can also give you some freedom to choose your aperture value and control your depth-of-field.
What does 2018 hold for you?
It’s going to be busy. I have an Instagram account called @createcommune with a community of over 300k followers, and I’m currently in the early stages of transforming that into a media company. We have a team of videographers and directors of photography spanning from California to Australia, with a handful across Europe. We brought these creative people onto our team by networking on social media. We’ve already begun pumping out content for the Create & Commune brand as well as other clients, so we’re looking to continue with that into 2018 and beyond.
Chris Maestas is a Fujifilm-compensated professional photographer.
To see more of Chris’ work, visit his website.
To explore the full X Series lineup visit X Gear Chooser.