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Parallax Newsletter, September 2013

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Dear Leica enthusiasts and classic photographers, 


Thank you for allowing us to share some news and random thoughts with you.

The World The Way He Sees It!

We search for photographic talent far and wide, then miss the obvious: the nearby star shining brightly. 


Jacques Pontbriand’s illustrious photographic career spans the gamut from large-format work for a who’s who of clients, to personal projects that showcase a special insight and understanding of his subjects. He has been a commercial and art photographer for over thirty years, always using the most suitable equipment for the job at hand. About ten years ago, when he decided to slow down the pace of his successful career, it was not surprising that Jacques began exploring what Leica M photography could do for his personal vision. Here is what impresses me most: not once has he tried to emulate the photographers of the 50s, 60s, and 70s who created what we know as the aesthetic of Leica M photography. Instead, he applies his own principles, discipline, and coherent vision to the camera, producing a body of work that is unique, cohesive and enduring.     


Take a look at his recent photography with the Monochrom. His essay on the Hudson River Valley is impressive, with images that delight, surprise and illuminate through a considered approach to a subject that is familiar to most. The rich, sumptuous textures and tones of his black-and-white images are completely appropriate to the landscape, in a subject about as far removed from traditional M photography as can be imagined! This is typical fare for a Pontbriand photoessay. He consistently elevates the capacity of the traditional M, the digital M and, most recently, the Monochrom to unimagined levels.


Jacques is eager to share his wealth of knowledge and experience, and I happily acknowledge that he has set me straight on more than one occasion. Most recently, he demonstrated the true capacity of the X Vario in a series of photos that challenged me to look beyond the slow f/stop and appreciate what that sensor and lens combination could produce: images unmatched by any other compact camera on the market. 

Click here to see the photo gallery.

Le Monochrom et moi

In June, Rita and I were in final preparation for our triennial vacation across the pond. We had briefly flirted with going to Scotland, but Montreal’s damp spring made us fear the worst so we opted instead for France, turning our back on meals of crappit heid and haggis for foie gras and coq au vin! 

If only the selection of camera were so easy. After much to and fro, I landed on the Monochrom, belying the “colourful character” moniker that more polite readers of this newsletter have occasionally employed when referring to me. I’ll admit that I did experience some moments of doubt, especially at the beginning of our travels. In early summer, the countryside of France is awash in colour: flowers in full bloom, crops a rich, verdant green, sunsets a magnificent panoply of reds. Trying to look for black-and-white tones was challenging! After several days of being mesmerized by the many hues, I finally saw the texture of the trees through the colour of the forest. 


By the midpoint of our trip I felt comfortable in my zone and pleased with my choice. Going to a new landscape, reacting to what I saw and what moved me, and creating a photographic diary was an experience enriched by the discipline imposed through the simplicity of black and white. The Monochrom contributed to this experience not only because of its nonpareil image quality, but by heightening my sense of time and place and providing me with the satisfaction of making photographs based on nothing but what I saw and felt at that moment.


Click here to see the photo gallery.

Rangefinder Roundtable - Larry Towell, Canadian Photographic Icon

One of the giants of photography is visiting Montreal in September. Magnum photographer Larry Towell needs no introduction to the Canadian photographic scene. Two events will highlight his visit. An evening with Towell and his photography is scheduled for both Thursday, September 12th and Friday, September 13th. His book, The Mennonites, set the standard for how visual storytelling should be done. The event will be held at Espace Phi, 407 Rue Saint-Pierre in Old Montreal. It’s part of the DHC Art Complex, a small theatre venue so space is very limited. Please click here to purchase your ticket.


A Big Day! Saturday, September 14th, Camtec Photo is  honoured and privileged to host a One-Day Workshop with Larry Towell. This day-long meeting is all about reviewing work, and discussing and tapping into the wealth of information, experience and knowledge of one of the most prolific and expressive photographer’s of our time.  Open to only 12 participants, the fee is $450. This includes a $100 gift certificate at Camtec Photo, a signed copy of The World From My Front Porch, a light lunch and end-of-day cocktail.
This event is being done in collaboration with Arkar Production.


Please email me,, to reserve your place. Participants should bring their own work as well as an outline of subject and themes they would like to explore. The roundtable meeting will review the participants’ photographs, whether print, books or digital files that can be projected. This should make for an enriching, inspiring and instructive day. Look forward to seeing you there!

Larry Towell

Rangefinder Roundtable - François Pesant: Photographing with Dignity and Compassion

A good friend of the boutique, it is with tremendous satisfaction that I report a recent success of this outstanding photojournalist. An Enemy Within is a powerful photoessay that takes on the difficult topic of sexual assault within the U.S. military. François’ photographs reveal the serious, life-altering consequences of this underreported crime. He is to be commended for his cogent but passionate treatment of the subject. As a consequence, the images are persuasive and dramatic. 


Winner of the Anthropographia Award for Human Rights through Visual Storytelling, and featured in M – Le Magazine du Monde, An Enemy Within received an honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards and selection for Visa pour l’Image. A $16,000 fundraising Indigogo campaign with the aim of producing a bilingual book on this topic, is open for contributions until September 25, 2013. 


Be it people surviving by picking through Delhi’s garbage, the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, the effects of desertification in India or devastation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, François has developed an enviable track record for his reporting of difficult issues. We are proud to report that kindness and concern are hallmarks of his work. I respectfully ask those who appreciate the impact, purposefulness and artistry of photography to consider making a contribution to Francois project.


Summer is not over yet. Light is getting more beautiful and dramatic. On foot or on bike, enjoy the rest of the season and early coming of fall. 


Always looking forward to your comments.


Photographically yours,


Jean Bardaji and Daniel Wiener


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