Pete Reed OBE

X-Pert 53 Interview



Pete Reed is hugely admired and well known for his super human achievement in winning 3 Olympic gold medals for rowing. He is in the process of training for number 4 at the Tokyo olympics in 2020 .

He is also a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and has been awarded an Order of the British Empire, a very worthy accolade. However, amongst the training and rowing and the dedication to his naval responsibilities, he also happens to be an avid and very skilled photographer using the Fujifilm X-Series cameras. In this particular interview, the supporting, exclusive shots were taken from a very recent trip to Budapest where he recorded everything with his X-T2 and the XF35mm F/2 WR lens.

I couldn't be happier that Pete has agreed to take on the X-pert 53 and share his fabulous words and 53mm shots. It's an honour, and I am grateful for his time, support and kindness. So without further ado,

Here is Pete's X-pert 53.

1. What Genre Of Photography Do You Specialise In?

I have three real loves in photography: 1) patient and well composed long exposures of land/cityscapes on a tripod. 2) Spontaneous and grabbed street comedy. 3) Documentary of grafting athletes away from the bright lights of competition. But I love a good portrait too... and travel. I think it‘s fair to say that I don‘t know. Anything really. I don‘t feel like I am good enough to specialise and it‘s only a hobby, so why narrow my horizons. 

2. Why Do You Like Using The XF35mm Lenses?

You want the list? They are cheap(er than zooms or wide or telephoto lenses), fast, light, small, quiet, WR (in this case), sharp, friendly to the public and SO VERSATILE. They make you think, move, create... and all of this for longer because it is so easy travel with. It is the friendliest little lens I have. Sounds daft, but that is one of the most important things when getting close to people or making a good first impression when you start interacting. Sometimes it does the introduction for you! Often it will go completely unnoticed.

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

Street portraits I think. It is a great street lens anyway - lots of people think you must have a 35mm (of xf23mm) to shoot street. There is no „must“ or „need“ in photography. Less is more. Smaller is faster. That extra bit of length helps get in tighter. I love it. Dont be afraid.

4. Do You Shoot Professionally With The XF35mm Lenses?

I have been paid for a few things, but never much and I never ask for money. I am definitely not a professional photographer. I shoot for the love of creation and to share the amazing daily routine that I have incredible access to. Sports fans are so used to seeing the finished product every four year at the Olympics - but the graft, struggle, determination, failures, pain... - That is my world. If I did ever turn professional it would be to document the lives of honest athletes in their relentless pursuit of achieving their goals. That story needs to be told. If the public knew the sacrifice and struggle - how this is overcome with determination - you would be more proud than of any gold medal tally. Some of the best athletes I have worked with didn’t go to the Olympics at all. Their names are not known. Their stories will fade rapidly. It is such a shame when I know they have so much to teach the young generation about what life and character is all about. I want my images to inspire the way my team mates inspire me.

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

For me, f2. It comes down to speed and volume of focus. It is quiet. The WR is a confidence boosting bonus.

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

Not as much as I should actually. It was my go-to focal length for years and for the last two I have rolled with the xf56mm f1.2 and xf16mm f1.4. This project of documenting my short city break with the xf35mm f2 exclusively really has rekindled my love for the length. I never found myself wanting. If you don‘t have another option, you NEVER have the wrong lens on your camera and you just make it work. You also, very quickly, learn what the framing will be before you lift the camera to your eye so you are constantly looking at potential images with the camera at your side. That is the beauty of any prime. Having just one with you exaggerates this phenomenon.

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

Without hesitation. My first camera was a Nikon D80 with an 18-135 zoom. Getting the 50mm as a second lens was a revolution and I didn‘t take it off. Things have come a long way since 2006 - but I would happily live with just the xf35mm f2 and probably take more and better photos for it.

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

Available light. I rarely add any flash or artificial torchlight and I have never shot in a studio. There‘s nothing wrong with studios, I would love to master that art to create natural looking light in an artificial environment - but I am happy to be faster and lighter.

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

My X-T2. It is my only interchangeable lens Fujifilm at the moment. I roll with the X70 and X100F too. Both glorious, but they cant help me answer the question as their 18mm and 23mm, respectively, are fixed on. I know I love this on the X-Pro2 as the pointy nubbin lens design doesn’t impair your view through the OVF and the HUD completes the UI. Sorry for all those letters, but you get me, right?  X-T2.

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

I find it very hard to critique my own images, but here are a few travel snaps from a relaxing city break away. It wasn’t a photography trip so I grabbed what I could. My photography was fitting around me having a nice an relaxing time though; not the other way around.

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

...grossly underrated.

Iain Palmer

Abundant Magazine