Leica cameras and a return to film based work

I started my journey using film cameras back in 1989. My first introduction to film photography was through the window of a rangefinder camera. I started with a hand me down camera which my father lent to me. It was an older Yashica rangefinder which shot in aperture priority and had a fixed 45mm lens. I remember it had a screw on wide angle and telephoto  lens and an optical flash mount view finder to view the frame lines. It was an awesome camera. My journey began with my father handing  me two rolls of kodak black and white film and sending me out to the city to shoot pictures with it one saturday. I remember going to pier 17 and pretty much walking around all of downtown manhattan. I didnt know much about the functionality of the camera, there was a light meter built in which would tell you if you were going to have a slow shutter or if you were going to over expose and that if I got the exposure right the meter would let me know and then I could shoot. I remember not knowing anything about composition or subject matter. I just knew I wanted to photograph something, anything, everything.  I studied photography on and off from high school to college. I never imagined every working as a photographer.  I was young, and my experiences were captured  through mental pictures i could revisit on my own  through thoughts and contemplation. I regret this to a point.

In 2005, I had the chance to revisit photography. This time, it was through a digital camera. A nikon D50 with an 18-55 kit lens. I didnt know much about digital cameras. I had a lot of training in film and felt confident I could make the transition seamlessly. I got an offer to photograph a children’s clothing catalog and so I accepted. I have to admit I was really worried  seeing how I had not made a photograph in years and was still learning my way around this new digital camera. I headed over to adorama to rent out a profoto lighting kit and a cheap flash i could use to trigger the slaves. I had no idea of radio triggers or how to use them. I understood optical slaves and pc cords but the Nikon had no inputs for pc cords. I had a crash course in digital photography in the studio the day of the shoot. I was on the phone with my father at the start of the shoot, frantically trying to remember what i learned from him and from school so many years ago.  I struggled and pushed through the shoot pulling bags of tricks out of thin air and made it out with a happy client…. I know right, I got lucky.

I continued shooting digital til late 2013. I had gone through every great digital camera from the nikon d3s, canon 5d mkII’s hasselblad with digital back, nikon d700, canon 7d’s, Fuji X series cameras. I seemed content with the outcome and shooting fashion. it wasn’t until 2011 when everything changed. I purchased my first full frame digital rangefinder. It was a beautiful back camera with a bright red dot. I remember having to settle on purchasing a summarit lens cause the cost of that camera was so high I really had no money left after purchasing the body. I remember going out for the first day of real shooting with the M9 and falling in love. I was reminded of why I decided to journey into photography in the first place. For years I had gotten really deep into the technical gadget lust of digital cameras forgetting that when I started, I had one camera, one lens and a few rolls of film and just my understanding of available light to make a good picture. I started selling all the gear I owned until I had nothing left. I wanted to start over from scratch. I missed being responsible for my images. I missed the darkroom and missed film. I started to see fashion photography differently. I didnt want to do it anymore. I wanted to shoot something timeless which provoked thought and sent a message. I wanted a deeper image.

In January of 2014, I purchased two cameras, both film. I now own a leica Mp with 50 mm summicron and a Leica M6 TTL with a 35mm summicron. I built a darkroom in my studio and now spend my time shooting the streets of new york city and people I see that inhabit this urban jungle and hope to capture life in the city on the streets of New York. Its funny how for a moment you are content and happy with your work and all of a sudden you realize you were only settling. I am responsible for my images and for my prints. I feel a lot more inspired and alive ever since I made the switch. I shoot for myself and not for clients. I work outdoors all the time. I am happy again.  I thank my father for teaching me photography, my professors for guiding my helping me develop my eyes and Leica for reminding what kind of photographer I wanted be and for helping me achieve that goal.


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