The announcement of Fujifilm’s new X-S10 hybrid camera came througha recorded conference broadcast on YouTube which concealed a speech never seen in the communication of photo brands.
If the content of these 28 minutes – new optics, presentation of the case, staging, etc. – was nothing special in itself, a 30-second portion of this long “classic” video hid completely new elements. And topical.
If you don’t follow the very Japanese camera presentations, you should know that companies in the land of the rising sun have systematic biases. Typically, the photographers are more than predominantly male, the human subjects very often female, and all of these beautiful people are Caucasian or Asian.
In the highly standardized and smooth communication of Japanese companies, there is something exceptional about the presence of a black photographer speaking (too quickly, admittedly) about the quality of the rendering of black skin tones in a world shaken by American racial injustices. Injustices which also had their technological counterpart.
The rendering of skin tones, a long-standing discrimination
Several English articles (here, the and there too) have, in the past, highlighted an invisible bias in the color science of skin tone rendering. To put it simply: in the time of film, the color science film was fully optimized to achieve the best renditions of fair skin in European, Caucasian and Asian.
Technological optimizations which adversely affected, by ricochet, the rendering of dark skin. People with black skin were thus very often “naturally” underexposed and therefore even darker and less discernible.
Just talking about it is for Fujifilm, which was one of the film giants, a small revolution. It is certainly not tackled head-on by naming past “wrongs”, but in journalistic memory, this is the first time that this subject has been raised. Just as the presence, more important than usual, of female photographers among the testimonies seems to be an attempt, again discreet, to rebalance an environment largely dominated – sometimes even crushed – by men.
Fujifilm certainly does not erase all of its biases and yes, the majority of the photographers and models presented during the presentation were rather white individuals (Westerners and Asians). And again “yes”, the main female model met the standard of the pretty doll. Rome was not built in a day …
But Fujifilm had the elegance to begin to shake up its communication without bragging about it or making a whiny argument. Just by naming things and changing your speech.
The greatest advances are made (sometimes) discreetly.