Inspiration

From the art of capturing a subject and its background: SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary

From the art of capturing a subject and its background: SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary

- Frédéric Mery

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 100, F22, 1/250s

« Fun is important. You should like the process and the subject.

If you are bored or unhappy with your subject, it will show up in the pictures ».


―Alec Soth

I’ve been working for the last 13 years as a documentary and news photographer, while recently also simultaneously shooting more commercial video work.

As a documentary photographer, I’m fascinated by people, the way they live, where they live and what moves them from day to day. I can spend a week getting to know the people I intend to photograph, some days not taking even a single picture. I guess I just love people in general, no matter who they are or what they do.

That’s the reason I decided over a decade ago to embrace this career.

News photography, on the other hand, is a totally different world. In this case you need to try to answer basic questions as defined in the 5Ws+H formula, supposedly attributed by many to an English rhetorician named Thomas Wilson, ‘Who, What, When, Where, Why and How’. It’s always a good exercise, whether I’m working or not, for me to try to answer these questions at least partially.

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 160, F8, 1/800s

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 200, F10, 1/1000s

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 200, F10, 1/200s

When I first started taking pictures as a professional, I was mainly using 24mm, 28mm and 35mm lenses. Therefore with the new 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, it felt somewhat natural for me to return to these focal lengths. Back to my roots.

To be honest, I was also excited to shoot wider, between 16 and 24mm.
I really like to immerse viewers within the scene I am trying to capture, so that they feel surrounded by the people I have photographed. When I run workshops for photographers, I usually encourage students to virtually take their audience on a walk. People should feel like they were standing there at that crossroads, alongside that person. I knew this lens would give me the ability to do this like no other.

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 400, F7.1, 1/640s

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 800, F7.1, 1/400s

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary,
SONY α7R II, ISO 1600, F3.2, 1/800s

Being based in Japan since 2019, April is usually the month when many of us news photographers will go out to shoot blooming cherry blossoms, known here as “sakura”. These pictures will later be published as short stories here and there, or used all around the world for illustration purposes. For many people in the western world, sakura can sometimes be seen as a little cliché but for the Japanese crowd, young and old, it is probably one of the highlights of the year.

It represents so much more than merely flowers blooming. It is a symbol of both beauty and fragility, as these flowers fade just as fast as they bloom and is therefore deeply connected to the idea of “wabi-sabi”, the Japanese art of impermanence.
In other words, appreciating the beauty in things that are destined to decline.

In this story the new SIGMA 16-28mm F.2.8 DG DN | Contemporary was a perfect companion.

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 200, F9, 1/1000s

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 200, F7.1, 1/1250s

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 200, F16, 1/250s

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 200, F9, 1/1000s

For a photographer, a zoom lens can combine all your favorite lenses into one. This compact little tool box proved just as great for landscapes as it did for close-ups and portraits.

Paired with my full-frame Sony mirrorless camera, it helped me produce stunning images at every available focal length. I was quite impressed by the sharpness and contrast of this lens to say the least, even wide open at F2.8, making it a convenient choice for both amateur and professional.

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 250, F5, 1/1600s

I often like to say that a photographer should shoot pictures whenever possible. To go out with a camera strapped around your neck on a day off is always a good idea.
Since moving to Japan, I have rediscovered the pleasure of shooting on a daily basis, outside of my regular assignments. Trying new settings on your camera, framing your pictures a bit differently and exploring places you’ve never been to, are all good considerations when striving to take your photography to the next level.

For those kinds of days this new SIGMA 16-28mm F.2.8 DG DN | Contemporary has lots to offer. I do enjoy how compact it is, thanks to the fact that the zoom is built to operate internally, preventing changes to the size of the lens. As a result it actually feels more like a prime lens, making it easy to carry everywhere with you. I spent a couple of days shooting around Osaka and its nearest suburbs and I almost forgot I had my camera coupled to that lens in my bag when I first got started!

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, SONY α7R II, ISO 800, F2.8, 1/800s

SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary,
SONY α7R II, ISO 800, F2.8, 1/800s

The impressive optical performance never let me down, especially in dim light environments, where its constant F2.8 aperture helped enormously. In short it delivered pictures that many more expensive prime lenses, let alone recent smartphones, couldn’t possibly match, making it the perfect day to day companion for a storyteller like me.

* The images without photograph data have been
created with other lenses other than
SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary.

Behind the Scenes

Frédéric Mery

Photojournalist and a documentary photographer/videographer.

Born in Paris, 1979 and he currently lives and works in Kyoto, Japan.
 

After studying law at the Sorbonne University in Paris, Frédéric devoted himself to what was back then his main passion: photography.

His work focuses mostly on what matters for him, i.e environmental and social issues.
Frédéric gives a lot of importance to the people he photographs. He sees photography as a slow process, intimacy being the key for a great picture. His work associates portraits and landscapes and includes long term projects as well as short assignments.

His deep interest for documentary photography will make him travel from the USA to Kazakhstan, stopping by most of the former Soviet republics. From these last trips, he crafted over a period of 3 years a body of work entitled « In Between Easts », showcasing pictures shot between Moldova and Ukraine. This part of his work was exhibited in the 2021 Kyotographie/KG+ Select photo festival in Kyoto, Japan.


fredmery.com

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