Hello everyone, it’s been a real pleasure writing this, after reading so many articles on this website, it’s finally my turn. I just hope I’ll be up to the challenge. My name’s Guillaume, and I’m from France. I wanted to share my journey after one year in Brittany. I basically moved here for a work mission in late 2020 and as I’m now living my last few weeks here, I wanted to look back and to reflect on such a special year for me. It will basically be a bit of storytelling, explaining my love/hate relationship with this region and on how one thing always stayed the same: my love for the Fujifilm X Series.
Long story short, I was already shooting with an X-T3 when I came here but I broke it in a bike accident in the end of 2020. It was quite the occasion to get the camera I was dreaming about: the X-Pro2. This has been my companion ever since and I’m proud to own it. It’s been an inspiring camera. I’ve always said this: I find this camera so beautiful that I keep looking at it until I take it out for a stroll.
Brittany is a very unique region here in France; it’s almost like a country in a country. It has a different language that we can see on the signs, and it has typical village names and very proud people. It’s surrounded by the sea, swept by the winds and you can have any weather you can think of in the space of one day. For that it’s been a real challenge for me. I’ve always been eager to learn about light, and how to use it and make the most of it. Here it’s challenging because the light is always changing. You have to be ready and you have to adapt. One morning the light is amazing, while in the afternoon, it’s just dull grey. I’ve been trying to find a good way to shoot under that grey light and I still haven’t found my way in this. I always end up with a moody black and white, which feels like the easy way for me – unsatisfying at least. If you have any inspiration, tips or images taken under a grey sky, I would love to read from you. It feels like it’s my constant challenge to bend that light and turn it into great, pleasing pictures.
It’s been raining a lot here, and I regretted the 16-80 for its WR protection, but the 35mm F1.4 has been working like a chief. I’ve used many different Chinese / legacy lenses as well, and they have managed to resist a few drops of water. I wouldn’t say I’m careless but I don’t overprotect my gear – I just use it. My X-Pro 2 looks like he has seen the world and it just makes me love him more. It’s a very strong and resistant camera and in the hand, you can feel it.
The scenery here is just magnificent. I can understand why so many people love this region; it has something special. There are many legends here about spirits and mythical creatures, and I can understand why. Wherever you set your eyes, it’s inspiring, transporting. I’ve always lived far from the sea, so it was a new thing for me to live here, and to be able to have the coast at like 5min of walking. I can pretty much say that the vast majority of my pictures from this year include the sea. And I loved it.
On the other hand, it’s also been challenging and unpleasant because deep down I’m a street photographer. I love cities, crowded places and tall buildings – that’s just what inspires me the most. Here in Brittany, it’s tough. The cities are quite small and I live deep in the countryside. I’ve been trying to make the most of it and I think I’ve learnt a lot about how to make good pictures when you’re in a boring location. (I don’t mean the place itself is boring, I just mean it is boring for me and my photo inspiration.) It gave me a bigger hint at what we can call intentionality in pictures, because where the scenes you’re looking at aren’t really inspiring, you have to create them yourself. I spent so much time in the cities around me trying to find something, trying to create a moment. In fact, I’ve learnt so much that now, when I go back to my original city, everything feels easier.
Last but not least, I got the chance this year to get into portrait photography. I had bought an X-H1, which was meant to be a second camera because I wanted to try a bigger grip. I ended up selling it because I just think my second camera should be a second X-Pro body. However, it’s been fun to use it and the shutter is just amazing. It’s so silent and smooth; it felt so good. And yeah, that grip is something else! If you have bigger hands and bigger lenses, that X-H1 is on another level. Maybe you should just wait for its upcoming brother…!
On reflection, I still don’t know if I’m into portraits or not. I found it really hard, to get good light and good poses, and I’ve ended up with pictures I’m not really pleased with. Maybe I’m just too hard on myself.
In the end, I’ve used three different Fujifilm cameras here and it feels way too much. But every one of them is an amazing piece of gear. And in the end, I’ve found a region that is amazing. My heart has been broken here so I’m finally happy to leave, but if you get the chance to visit this place, do it. You won’t be disappointed. The beauty of the landscape is overwhelming and the people are so fun! You can easily get lost here – and some people have never left.