Dear rangefinder enthusiasts and classic photographers,
Thank you for allowing us to share some news and random thoughts with you.
Every year the photo world converges on New York City for a 4-day celebration that fêtes all types of photography. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance as the 2018 edition lived up to past shows’ deserved reputation for excellence. Hundreds of galleries representing the work of thousands of photographers from all corners of the world, exhibited the finest from their collections. Early Daguerrotypes and today’s conceptual fabrications shared space under one roof, captivating passionate admirers and being commented on by knowledgeable critics.
You could not walk 10 yards without coming face to face with iconic images, be they Sally Mann’s immaculately created photos of her immediate family, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s oh-so-Decisive Moments, Robert Doisneau’s loving pictures that find you smiling at the human condition, or Thomas Hoepker’s photographs employing seductive colour and line in presenting urban landscapes.
If one were to visit every venue, I’m confident that the show would take at least two days to navigate. I took extra time to appreciate what suits my taste and eye, and was amply rewarded by some uplifting photography. Alec Soth is a middle-aged photographer from the Midwest whose unconventional – but by no means strange – view of Americans and America was displayed in big, environmental portraits. His subjects are commonplace, his presentation ordinary, but the result is the creation of a narrative that provides purpose to what appears at face value to be unimportant.
Bruce Gilden would not approve of my next find! Bill Hayes’ work is spontaneous, meaningful and respectful. In his street photography and on-the-fly portraits, in what amounts to little more than cursory encounters with strangers, he somehow lays bare the soul and emotions of his subjects, presenting unique, complicated and complete individuals.
The portrait work of Lynn Gilbert featured women in an unusual and exciting light for the mid-twentieth century: trailblazers in male-dominated vocations. Bella Abzug, Julia Child, Betty Friedan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Billie Jean King, Susan Sontag, Gloria Steinem and Barbara Walters are among the luminaries who stepped in front of her camera.
The show juxtaposed the work of masters and provided a fresh perspective on well-known artists. Alberto Korda’s photograph of Che Guevara was hung alongside a stunning portrait of Frieda Kahlo. I came upon a wall featuring photographs by Bruce Davidson and William Klein that I had not previously seen. If you ever doubted that street photography could be art, their work put the question to rest. Under the title Vintage, I came face to face with a collection of Danny Lyon’s pictures: disturbing, turbulent, and unforgettable!
Other retrospectives included W. Eugene Smith at 100, featuring his oeuvre from Albert Schweitzer to the Country Doctor, and Pittsburgh to Minamata. Every print was filled with history, hard work, and a gamut of human emotions.
Octogenarian Tony Vaccaro was present for an exhibition of his most iconic photographs of cultural events and personalities. Sporting his cherished Leica M3 with 50mm Elmar, he added that he never leaves home without it.
Photographers from north of the 49th were well represented. The arresting wildlife images of Paul Nicklen covered the walls of his eponymous gallery space, while the meticulously constructed works of Guillaume Simoneau were on display in large prints showcased by Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery.
Interested in fine photography books? Signed first editions were available at prices to fit the budget of enthusiasts and serious collectors alike. I was thrilled to run into two of my heroes, Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris signing their latest book, Violet Isle, a loving photographic duet that captures the spirit of Cuba. Alex and his wife are always generous with their time and commentary on the state of photography today.
The AIPAD Photography Show is an ideal excuse to escape Montreal’s endless winter and indulge your love of photography. Be certain to mark this event on your calendar for 2019!
Finally, A Bountiful Harvest
Now that the executive suite at the Leitz Park Hotel is completed, workers at the new factory can get back to important work at hand: making cameras and lenses.
2018 promises to be Leica’s year of plenty. No one is more pleased than me in seeing Leica paying attention to filling out the line of SL lenses. The Summicron 75mm and 90mm and 16-35 Vario-Elmar have been or will start shipping soon, and if my sources are right, the Summicron 35mm and 50mm will be available in this calendar year. Finally, SL users can get the most out of the amazing SL camera.
In the M world: the new Noctilux 75mm pushes lens design to the pinnacle of perfection. Although it feels bloated on the compact M10, it will create signature images unmatched by anything else available.
Speaking of signature, even your dual-lens iPhone with natural-looking artificial bokeh can’t come close to creating the dreamy soft images that the 90mm Thambar will deliver. Image quality and characteristics aside, the lens is beautifully constructed, with a vintage appearance but modern construction.
The LHSA has a tradition of taking one legendary Leica product and making it their own, complete with special emblem. The latest must-have creation for any Leica collector is the Apo Summicron F2 50mm; the most perfected lens Leica ever produced in terms of correcting chromatic aberration and with absence of any focus shift at any aperture and at any distance.
A Day of Nature Photography and Creativity
Springtime played hide-and-seek during our gathering on April 14 to commune with nature and express our creativity through photography. Snowy landscapes, cool weather and overcast skies punctuated by dramatic light, served as photographic adrenaline for twelve jam-packed hours in the Eastern Townships. We walked along paths and trails, drove country lanes and byways, and explored picturesque churches and rustic chapels while meeting with locals. Back in the studio in St-Etienne de Bolton near Eastman, we pored over our photographs while discussing points of view and learning from each other. All told, a wonderful, educational and rewarding day!
Thank you Eric Lajeunesse for welcoming us to your spectacular studio filled with natural light and overflowing with your talent and photographic works! Your generosity and openheartedness are sans pareil. Also, thanks to Mike Lee, our cheerful and obliging Leica rep who provided both excellent gear and helpful technical advice. And of-course, big thanks to all the participants for the contagious energy and sense of sharing that you brought to this wonderful gathering.
Below is a small slice of the wonderful images we captured. The complete gallery is available here.
Spring has sprung. We’re putting the hot chocolate away until next winter, but you’re still invited into the Boutique for one of our famous espressos and to talk photography sans parka, scarf and mittens!
Always looking forward to your comments.
Jean Bardaji and Daniel Wiener