Dear rangefinder enthusiasts and classic photographers,
Thank you for allowing us to share some news and random thoughts with you.
Leica Camera and Camtec Photo invite you to an Evening with Ed Kashi
Zero sensationalism, zero gore, zero exploitation, only interesting human stories being told through a respectful camera’s eye. Ed Kashi, one of our most prolific and pensive contemporary photojournalists, has employed this meaningful approach to his impressive body of work.
On the evening of Wednesday, July 23, Leica Camera and Camtec Photo invite you to share a moment with this remarkable talent. Mr. Kashi will tell the story behind two of his most poignant and beautiful books, Three and Photojournalism. Come meet, chat and learn from this modern master.
Places are limited and reservations are a must! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Where: Camtec Photo, 26 Notre Dame East
When: Wednesday, July 23 at 18:00
Coming In Contact With…
In May, I found myself in Toronto and seized the opportunity to view some of the exhibits at Contact, Canada’s largest photographic festival. Before discussing trends and directions, I would like to congratulate Michel Huneault for garnering the Portfolio Reviews Exhibition Award for La Longue Nuit de Mégantic, his remarkable, in-depth exploration of grief and healing following the train explosion that killed 47 people.
We are increasingly a society of specialists, and that high level of specific knowledge and ability is gained at the expense of stepping back and seeing the greater picture, an affliction that has also become part of contemporary photography and was on display in much of the work at Contact.
At Ryerson University’s Image Centre, I was drawn into the stunning, large-format black-and-white prints by Zanele Muholi. These images packed plenty of power and I excitedly walked from print to print, skipping over the text until after I had viewed the entire show. Here was an incredibly poignant and expressive series of portraits of young women, filled with strength and scope that encouraged me to imagine much more than the pure information contained within the photographs. Then I read the mission statement, a manifesto documenting the plight of lesbians in post-apartheid South Africa. What about the greater South African problem of violence against all women, regardless of sexual preference? Soften the message, let the images breathe and take on a life of their own, and the content becomes more comprehensive.
Gordon Parks: In Praise of the Photo Generalist
Readers of this newsletter know I have considerable respect for storytelling or reportage photojournalism. Too often, photographers start with a point of view, then proceed to shoehorn their stories to fit that particular position. Those mandated to remove the blinkers from their audience’s eyes, are themselves the ones who are wearing blinkers! I have grown to believe that photographers who are not easily niched and who share a broad range of interests, more often than not create photographs that leave us enthralled, intrigued and informed. To my eye, the best exhibition at Contact was the retrospective of the work of the legendary Gordon Parks.
What a talent! Look at two of his most iconic, enduring images: American Gothic and Emerging Man. While they document specific circumstances, their message remains relevant and their aesthetics, timeless. Here was a man who recognized, created, and was a catalyst for change. His photographs, filled with meaning and passion, pushed America into a new era and Black America through a true renaissance. And he did this without featuring violence, without preaching, without glorifying misery and poverty, but by producing elegant images that were brilliantly conceived, masterfully framed, and captured at the Decisive Moment. His sweep of subjects ranged from the ghetto to the fashion runway, and the photographs he made were always riveting and inspiring. What he brought to his photography was a remarkable depth of insight.
Gordon Parks was the quintessential generalist: masterful with a camera, but also an impressive writer, musician, composer and, of course, the director of the 1971 hit, Shaft.
For such a person to pick photography as a means to express himself, is a tribute to the potential for change found in every camera.
T-Off to another Remarkable Camera System
Straight down the fairway and right to the pin, Leica does it again!
I have to admit to being one of the skeptics who doubted that Leica, a small and venerable company with about 500 employees, could muster the energy, the resources and the knowhow to develop and introduce yet another camera system. (This is system number four.) Well done, Dr. Kaufmann, for your vision and dedication to Leica and photography!
The T system, like its companions in the Leica stable, introduces new and groundbreaking developments with improvements not only to the photographic equipment, but to photography in general.
With its ultramodern, simple and functional philosophy and design, the T system will fulfill the promise of charting a new path in digital photography, freeing the photographer to concentrate on what is essential: the image unfolding in front of him.
I had the chance to use the camera and 23mm Summicron for a few days. The new back screen with cockpit functionality, is intuitive and fast, seemingly reading your mind and anticipating your actions. I’m happy to report that manual focus with the M lenses works seamlessly. I brushed off one of my old favourites, the Summicron 40mm, and it rendered luminous and sharp images that were, well…so Leica.
Naysayers will always find reasons to criticize. Of course, they start off by comparing the T to fast, high-performance DSLRs. That class of photographers still don’t get it! Having a Leica in you hands is supposed to slow you down. The Leica T will do that: slow down, smell the roses, and see the picture!
Help Ron Go To Jail, Go Directly to Jail
Ron Levine is an accomplished Montreal photographer and a friend of the boutique. Several years ago, he left a successful commercial career to concentrate his talents on being a visual artist who dedicated his efforts to in-depth reportage. This decision eventually led to the creation of a lasting record about people who have been condemned to life behind bars.
Prisoners of Age, Ron’s compelling collection of portraits, reportage work and interviews with elderly prison inmates was originally shown at Alcatraz in 2000-2001. Since then, the exhibition has been staged in Ottawa, Philadelphia, Montreal, Fremantle and Brisbane.
In July 2015, an extensively updated effort with new prints and insights is scheduled to return to the infamous prison.
Ron has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed for printing and hanging the new, larger than life (twelve-foot tall) photos that will showcase and anchor Prisoners of Age when it returns to The Rock!
Summertime, and the Living is Easy
I am not unique in considering the snow shovel a seasonal implement, but March and April had me question that assumption. May? The rain hardly stopped and the wind still packed a polar punch. Finally June with its long hours of daylight, and I began to ponder the possibility of nice weather.
This year we will have earned our summertime pleasures. Make photography one of them as you have fun on the beach, in the mountains, in the woods, or wherever your travels may take you.
Always looking forward to your comments.
Jean Bardaji and Daniel Wiener