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THE LEICA HUG. TO HAVE, TO HOLD OR LET GO.

(Opinion)

This is going to be a wild ride of an article, which has slowly flowed in and out of my mind while mulling over some old and also very recent information. With the arrival of something big for some and “new” for the film community, and the amazing amount of options that already exist; Along with all the details that busily swirl around in the heads of new and seasoned photographers when trying to begin or experiment and progress in their work; There is just so much to know, and for me, knowing is less than half the battle. My feelings are a much bigger presence when it comes to talking, listening, learning, and deciding on all things film-related, and most things for that matter. I hope that this article resonates with some of you and that it doesn’t come off in a way that seems as if I am not excited or interested in the new, and for what is happening and what is to come; I do feel that although I am both excited and interested, honesty is a much more important propellant than the shiny and hyped. Accessibility is another big one, not just in ease of use and as a push against gatekeeping but also financial accessibility are all key factors in keeping photography afloat and open for all who have even the slightest interest in the magic it holds. Photography, as with all other art forms can be very personal. Obviously, anyone who picks up a camera or a pen for that matter can do whatever they damn well please, and that is the way it should be, but if the undeniable urge to create and follow that path and feeling, sometimes to a fault, thumps you right in your chest, knocking you back to a time of reflection, that is something that can blow everything else out of the way. All desire to have and hold all the newest, coolest gadgets and media become less important and the creative process is the thing that moves in and takes over, full time, 100%. That is my hope, for all that look to the photographic medium as an extension of themselves, as a superpower, maybe even a way to remember or forget.


Now, ON WITH IT!


You’ve probably heard of it and perhaps longed for it yourself. All of us lonely camera-wielding mortals have been running around since 1925 chasing a feeling. Trying to decide which Leica would be the one that felt just right, while avoiding those alley-dwelling shadow lurker budget brand vampires suckling at our passion and longing, for a better photographic experience. It’s a feeling that takes precedence over all others, the pull to use only the camera found and fallen for, and no other. I have come to understand, albeit very slowly, that the Classic Leica hug exists with other cameras as well. Having owned quite a few Leicas, trying to find “the one” I had yet to feel that warm embrace. When recently I decided to let go of the Leica brand altogether. I’ve owned the Leica IIIC, IIIF, IIIA, Leica MDa, Leica MD2, and the Leica M3, all of which I roamed around with, using and holding and never feeling fully comfortable. Never being struck with the zing and glory that I have been so many times swarmed by when hearing others speak of these capable machines. I sell cameras online and have tried to have a true bond with lots of other cameras and their lenses, to no avail. There is just so much there, or there isn’t, it really does depend on the photographer, the searcher, the one trying to find their camera pal. A few times I have come upon a camera, and felt “this must be the one, I have finally found it!” After a few weeks or months, there is a shift and another camera comes into play and becomes the next in line. I have been sure the Nikon F would be it, or the Pentax Spotmatic, the HorizonT panoramic, or the Olympus 35RC.

Pentax Spotmatic, 55mm f1.8/135mm f3.5, Ultrafine Extreme 400


None have stuck, well they are still picked up and used, but none are the one I constantly toss around my shoulder as I head out for the day. Now, this could be due to my bringing home camera after camera and my interest in wanting to use something new, test it and see what it does. It could also be due to not having specific work or projects based around certain formats or usability, which plays a big role in this journey and not having found a set system. The intention is just not there beyond having an everyday shooter to use for my everyday. This has been my mission, the hope of discovery since my first few months of making film part of my life. If you read it, you will notice this article kind of mirrors my last, in that it is about how surprised and happy I have been since picking up a Pentax K1000.

Pentax K1000, 40mm f2.8, Ultrafine Extreme 400

Pentax K1000, 40mm f2.8, Ultrafine Extreme 400



That little chrome swoosh puppy has swooped in and taken a front-row seat and literally a seat beside me in my car anytime I leave the house and go on a drive. I tried for so long to fill this space, a space where I don’t even think when picking up what camera to use that day, which leaves no room for second-guessing when leaving the house. It is a really bizarre feeling, not thinking at all about what I am doing, whether there is something else I would rather pick up and take with me, and whether it is a good fit or not. I can’t even figure out what it is about the camera, there really isn’t anything special about it, not anything that stands out above any other camera body. It is as simple as simple can be, and it is also very comfortable. Those two things are key ingredients when I am looking for long-term use in a camera, and that is really about it. I am not too picky here. So why bother with another, why have I been looking for so long? What has it all been for? This long piling of camera after camera atop one another, digging and tossing aside others to get to just one camera. I believe I found the one, but like with most articles I’ve written, while I am pondering and working through the pondering, I tend to split the point like a hair or even change my mind in the end. I really don’t think that there is just one camera for any one person. If you find or have found that one that just works and sits pretty with you wherever you go, then good job, you have succeeded in doing something not many others can do. At least for now this Pentax k1000 will be on the road of life with me, cruisin’ for a bruisin’, and every so often I will grab another and bring it along as well. It feels right, and I just can’t see the use in ever going back to a Leica or any other rangefinder for that matter, other than holding onto my Olympus 35RC, that one is just too precious.

Pentax K1000, 40mm f2.8, Ultrafine Extreme 400


There are many avenues one can choose to go down when pursuing a specific camera or tool to better their experience and journey into that glowing funnel of success. Some of these avenues are as follows:


Which focus type? Rangefinder/Prism/Zone focus etc.


What format? 35mm/110/120/127/220/126/16mm/620/4x5/8x10/Panoramic etc.


What kind of camera? TLR/Toy/Fixed lens rangefinder/Modular Rangefinder/SLR/Micro/Press Camera/Swing lens etc.


What film stock(s)? You know. Color or Black and White? What brand?


Once all this has been mulled over and you have the best camera and lens kit in your very own hands, all that’s left is, what interests you? The subject matter can be important, it can be the thing that leads others to you, flocking and wanting more. It could be the thing that makes you feel fulfilled in your endeavors with your work, with your hobby, or your job. All these things are important and they are all tied to the bigger picture, yourself, your life, or someone else’s, whether it be a personal story or a story you want to make up with your images, having a great setup can really help. This is all to say, finding which way any and all these things can feel comfortable and work into your process, life, and way of seeing, is a very key factor to being able to see better. Look, Listen, Read, Test and Choose wisely.



Since I began writing this article, a new BIG thing has flung itself into the realm of the photographer, the film photographer to be precise. And to be more precise, right smack dab at the feet of the photographer with a bucket ‘o’ ca$h. I’m sure you’ve heard the news, Leica has begun to remake and sell the “legendary” M6 rangefinder camera. With a few important differences, such as a brass body, newly coated glass, light meter improvements, and more. Some have sent out the notice in the form of saying this is going to reinvigorate the film community and make film photography much more accessible. Hearing a statement like that in regard to Leica immediately gave me pause. I am not trying to boycott a camera or company, it just seems worth mentioning, being someone who’s owned some of these cameras, and wasn’t taken by their majesty. I struggled to fit these cameras into my every day, and I admire the ones who have done so, almost with ease. This new, maybe improved accessible camera body is selling for $5,295 before tax and shipping. Who has access to this camera? What is the benefit of buying, owning, and using this newer body? New parts, no need for CLA for some time, but what else? Are these improvements really all that worth scooping one up? Who will buy a few of these and resell them for more? So many questions and I wonder when the answers will show themselves. Give it a few months and I’m sure we will know. I’m happy for those who will be able to afford the shiny new M6 and receive that smooth, cool brass hug, feeling fulfilled and able to carry out all their wildest photographic dreams. There is no right or wrong way to find what works for you, it's just being open, trying things out, and hopefully hearing the call. Perhaps you too, like all the rest of us, have looked and looked through the countless options already on the market, whether it be a Holga, a Leica, a Minolta, or a cardboard Kodak box camera, there are plenty to choose from, and just maybe it will choose you. For now, along with all of you other fluttering harpies, I'll be just fine and happy, day after day, to join the hoards of you till my K1000 slips away, swiftly moving along in this shining storm-drenched autumn sky; cast from the silver spun-out and collected through the years of development and the sweet creative blooming of us all.

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