Hi there! My name’s Joanna Lemanska and I’m a photographer based in Paris.
My adventure with photography started in 2010, and since then it has become not only a passion but also my main job.
I’m specialized in street and travel photography, lifestyle too. Occasionally, I shoot architecture and landscapes.
I first started taking photos with a small compact camera, a Nikon Coolpix (nothing to do with my nickname!) and to be honest, I don’t remember which model it was.
I switched quite quickly to iPhone 4s which was my main shooting device for a year or so. Soon, it appeared to be insufficient in terms of the quality of images and I got myself a Fujifilm X10 – my first camera allowing full manual settings.
I then learned all by myself how to use it by simply reading the manual. Yep, this and some practice turned out to be enough to understand and know how to play with shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc.
Since then, I remained faithful to Fujifilm. For me, their cameras are a perfect mix of vintage look, great quality, reliability (never had any technical issues with their cameras) and what is particularly important for me – perfect size and weight.
When taking photos on the streets, I want to be quick, reactive and discreet. With a heavy camera, reflex would probably be much more difficult.
As a matter of fact, I’m not really interested in gear as such and I consider it more of an unavoidable obstacle between what I see and the final picture.
I’m interested in the process, composition, light, scene and situation, coincidence… The camera is just a means that I have to use to capture all these. There’s simply no other choice.
Therefore, I limit my gear to the strict minimum that I need to take photos that I like most.
Since many years ago, I’ve owned a Fujifilm X-E2 with four different lenses, out of which I regularly use only two.
This year I got a Ricoh GR2 too as an additional camera for street photography. It turned out to be a perfect tool. Tiny, compact camera, offering professional settings and sharp, beautiful quality – a dream!
Here’s all the equipment that I’ve got:
Fujifilm X-E2 – I use it for street photography, as well as for all commissions. The quality and the vintage vibe that it has make up all the pleasure that I feel when I’m shooting. (See more vintage photography tips here.)
Ricoh GR2 – Tiny, discreet, offering great quality and a specific focusing option that I’ve never seen in other cameras. Ricoh has a Snap focus setting. That means that you can set your focus at a chosen distance (I put it on 2m) and every subject within this distance will be neat. Sure, you can set any manual focus at a chosen distance, but for some reason this option turned out to be working particularly well for me.
When it comes to street photography, it’s even more precise, rapid and discreet.
Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 – My favorite lens, I use it all the time. It’s quite wide and perfect for street photography, landscapes, portraits… A real polyvalent lens.
Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 – The second lens that I use the most. The aperture is truly exceptional and it’s possible that the quality of image surpasses my favorite 23mm. I use it a lot in the city to take candid portraits.
Fujinon 16-25mm 4 – The wide-angle lens and a really cool one, although I almost only use it when shooting for specific clients. It’s really good for shooting architecture and city.
Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8 – I don’t use this one any more actually. It’s a great starter, but after I tried lenses without zoom once, it’d be hard to go back to this great but rather basic lens.
I have a tripod too. As I use it extremely rarely, I went for the cheapest one that I could find on Amazon. It’s a no-brand Amazon Basics for 23 euros. Just enough to do some long exposures twice a year. ;)
I don’t own any camera bags. All my gear fits perfectly in one of my Rootote bags that are just simple and good looking city bags.
I edit all my photos in Lightroom and I try to do as little of it as possible. For me, the goal is always to do good framing and settings while shooting, so that I don’t have to do lots of editing afterwards. I believe that too much editing kills the photo. I try to limit it to exposure, clarity and saturation adjustments.
I use Lightroom presets that I created myself.
If there is one piece of advice that I could give to anyone interested in practicing photography or already doing it and trying to improve, it would be this: it’s not gear that will make you a good photographer or that will help you to reveal your talent. The only way to do it is to walk a lot every day. To walk and to observe, to grab every opportunity to take a good photo.
If you manage to take a really great picture, even with a shitty camera, it will still be a great picture and people will see it. My personal and professional experience confirms that. And don’t wait for the inspiration. As Chuck Close said: “All the best ideas come out of the process, they come out of the work itself… If you just get to work, something will occur to you.”