The story you're about to read is the result of two things we happened to be thinking about recently.
The first was that to our way of thinking, photos of other people are likely the most popular photos people take.
The second was that we should have a story about our newest camera, the Z 50, which is our first DX (1.5 crop factor) mirrorless camera.
The linking factor of our two thoughts was, not coincidentally, that the Z 50 is pretty much designed to be an ideal people-picture machine for, among others, the leaders and their followers among today's active generation of image-makers.
With that in mind, we had no trouble deciding that the ideal person to talk with for the story was Shawn Corrigan, a skilled and resourceful maker of lifestyle images who got to spend some early time with the Z 50 to take end-result photographs that illustrate the camera's versatility and capability.
Shawn photographed skateboarders in California and a friends-and-family group in Mexico, aiming to put the Z 50's handling and technology to the test as he created easy-does-it, freewheeling lifestyle images. "That's how I felt this camera was going to be used—by people who enjoy themselves doing what they love to do," he says. "They're the Instagram generation."
And their camera has arrived.
"The thing that's great about the Z 50 is it's tiny," Shawn says. "It's not intimidating—it doesn't call attention to itself or to you, so you can go out and be creative in ways you couldn't if people were reacting differently. And when you put the Z 50 in people's hands, they get it, they know what to do. It's a shoot and hand-off camera—pass it around, show constantly changing points of view, get everybody involved—it's the camera you either see in the hands of your friends or you hand to your friends."
Shawn's a pro, and he was, after all, on assignment, working under conditions you're not likely to deal with. But—and this is the key to the camera, and our story: what he discovered and accomplished is right now waiting for you.
• Evident as Awesome. If you haven't seen the skateboarding video Shawn made with the Z 50, check it out now to get an idea of the speed and accuracy of the camera's autofocus. If you've seen it, you know what we're talking about—and what Shawn meant when he termed the results "awesome." Eighty percent of the skateboard video shoot was hand held, and Shawn gives credit to the camera's AF tracking ability and the in-lens image stabilization available in the camera's kit DX lenses, the NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR and NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR.
• Eye Catching. Speaking of AF and awesome, consider the Z 50's Eye AF ability to lock on and stay with your subject's eyes.
Shawn did. "It took me a minute or two to learn to set it up," he says, "and after that it was instantly impressive."
• Slow It Down. "I think the experienced professional photographer often experiences things in a form of slow motion," Shawn says. "We see the details of action, the details of life, and with slo-mo (slow-motion) video I can put people in the same flow-state I'm in." That state, he adds, is "the creative process, the zone I'm in when I'm working."
• Easy to Share. "The easy-to-use aspect of the camera was heightened by SnapBridge to send stills and video to a smartphone.
Getting the photos out quickly made sharing a part of the picture-taking process."
Creating the Creative Environment
For Shawn, the key to much of his lifestyle photography is working within a creative environment, and that starts with relaxing people, Here's what he told us about getting that done.
Soundtrack. "A big plus for me in keeping any situation fun is that whatever you like, whatever puts you at ease, that's what I want to listen to. I ask, 'What's your playlist? What do you listen to right now?' That's the start—the music."
Use the Tech. "I want a relaxed, creative environment, and mirrorless works for that. When you take a picture, you usually look at the flip-down LCD to see if the exposure is on. You take your eye from the viewfinder. You don't have to do that with mirrorless—just set your playback so you can see the photograph right after you take it. So you hold the camera up to your eye a little longer and you're looking at that picture you just took; no interruption, no judgment. And if the camera's also set for silent mode, people don't know when you're taking a photo or when you're checking it. I shoot silent mode a lot, and often for the first five or ten pictures they don't know I took a picture—and that could be the moment."
Positivity. "And if I do look away from the finder, I always want to show a positive reaction. I want to make sure the person I'm photographing doesn't see a 'how do I make this better?' face. They'll think I'm critiquing them. So I smile, even if it doesn't look great, and I'll even say how great it looks. The first picture isn't going to be the hero picture; the last picture is the hero picture."
Collaboration. "I'm always asking my subjects for ideas. My attitude is, You and I are going to make better pictures together; you have ideas, I have ideas. The more you learn from your subject, the better you'll be."
More to the Story
Shawn is currently shooting with a Z 7, having moved to mirrorless from his D850. As we were wrapping up this story, he let us know he was about to pick up the Z 50 he'd ordered.
Click here for complete information about the features and capabilities of the Z 50.