Robert Catto

X-Pert 53 Interview

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Robert Catto Is A Photographer Who Has A uniquely trained understanding of lighting .  He Is Also A Member Of The International Photographers Group, The Kage Collective (Pronounced Ka-Gay) And Is Based In Sydney, Australia.

Robert Catto has a unique take on photography and one that stems from his background in theatre lighting. Before becoming the accomplished photographer that he is today, Robert was trained as a lighting designer for theatre. With this exclusive eye for illumination, Robert was able to utilise his specialised understanding for audience lighting and intelligently mixing it with his knowledge of what visually attracts the masses, transferred his skill set into the photography he is so sought after for. I am excited to have Robert agree to take the X-pert 53 Interview and share with us his XF35mm photography that bursts with theatrical vivacity and colour.  

Here is Robert's X-pert 53.

1. What Genre Of Photography Do You Specialise In?

The majority of my work is as a production stills photographer for performing arts & live events like theatre, dance, opera and music; but as a member of the Kage Collective, I’m also a documentary photographer.

2. Why Do You Like Using The XF35mm Lenses?

I’m very fond of the XF series and X-Cameras; I was just saying to someone the other day that they give Canon’s L-series a solid run for their money (sorry, Canon! No disrespect intended!), which I think is a combination of good lens design plus shorter throw from the rear element to the sensor in the mirrorless design. Plus, they’re TINY!
When I first got into the Fuji system, it was with the X100; before that I’d been using a quirky little Epson R-D1 digital rangefinder, with Leica M-lenses I’d been gathering over the years. But when I saw the files from the X100, and then the X-Pro 1 came along, I knew I was finally ready to switch systems.
The X100 was a fantastic little camera, but what I learned through the period of using it was just that I felt more at home with either 28mm or 50mm lenses; I’d been using a 35mm Summilux (which on the Epson functioned as a 53mm!), and I missed it - the X100 was always either too wide, or not wide enough, for what I wanted.
Also, because the size of the kit is so delightfully small, I find subjects are more relaxed around it than with a full-scale SLR. It’s a far less obtrusive way to document the world; it’s easier to blend in, to be an observer.

3. What Do You Like Photographing The Best With Your XF35mm Lens/Lenses? Why Your Choice?

I tend to use my Fuji kit when I’m on a documentary project rather than for work in the arts; I’m using the X-Pro 1 for my essays, though I’m hoping to upgrade shortly! So there isn’t an easy answer in terms of my favourite subject matter, as that tends to change with each story - it’s more a question of the style of working than the subject of the image.

Why Your Choice?

I feel like working with the X-Pro series is a more contemplative style of photography, that suits working with subjects at a different pace than at a dress rehearsal or show - when I generally have no control over what’s happening in front of me!

4. Do You Shoot Professionally With The XF35mm Lenses?

Yes, and no - some of my professional work is with other systems, but some of the work I do with the X-Series I certainly consider professional!
There’s certainly no reason these lenses couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be used professionally - they are top-quality optics, and more than capable of delivering the goods when called for. If anything, I’m more inclined to shoot with these at their full, wide open aperture than I am with Canon L-glass; I tend to stop that down a bit, but the Fujis I find are great from one end of the depth of field scale to the other.

5. Fuji XF35mm F/1.4 Or Fuji XF35 F/2? Why Your Choice?

35mm f/1.4.

Why Your Choice?

That’s the one I have! (And as I’m predominantly a low-light photographer, I’ll always go for an extra stop of available light.) 
On my Epson rangefinder, I had a couple of lenses over time: a 40mm Summicron-C followed by a 35mm Summilux. To be honest, they were both amazing, quality lenses, with very different characters. 
I’m sure the two XF options are closer together in terms of rendering, and I do appreciate a smaller option - but still, I like both the extra light gathering, and the shallower depth of field available with the 1.4.

6. How Often Do You Reach For Your XF35mm Lens/Lenses?

It’s not much of a reach, they’re always in a bag on my shoulder! I’ve got the 18mm, the 35mm and the 56mm - but the 35 is the one that lives on the camera most of the time.

7. Could You Live With Just An XF35mm Lens In Your Photography Bag?

For how long!? It would be difficult, but I might survive for a few weeks…look, I could probably be happy with just that lens (and an X-Pro 2), but there are times when photographing concerts that I need something more like 300mm. 
So I could be happy, but I’d have a harder time making a living!

8. Do You Like To Use Available Light Or Studio Light With Your XF35mm Lens/Lenses?

Available light for me, though studio’s fun in its own way. I haven’t tended to do studio work with the X-Pro, but it’s bound to happen one day!

9. What Fuji-X Camera Body Do You Prefer To Use The XF35mm Lenses On? Why Your Choice?

X-Pro 1 currently, but I’d prefer to have the X-Pro 2.

Why Your Choice?

Love the rangefinder way of working, but better AF would be nice too.

10.Do You Have Any Favourite Photographs Using The XF35mm Lenses?

Yes, sure.

11.Finish This Line: The Fuji XF35mm Lenses Are…

... jewel-like in their tiny perfection!

Iain Palmer

Abundant Magazine