4 Mar 2014
Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
[Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland]
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’
London, England. 2014.
Leica M9-P | Voigtlander Nokton 50mm 1.5 ASPH VM
Johnny and I just returned from a wonderful long weekend in London. It was my first time there and I completely fell in love with the city. Everything about it had me at hello – the culture, the people, the food, the architecture, the stylishness and international flavor. We met up with a group of fellow photographers on Saturday for a photo walk and dinner at a great pub, which was the highlight of the trip. They were all such nice people and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying seeing their shots from London as well. I’m already excited to go back, maybe for a bit longer next time.
I continue to fall more in love with the Leica M9-P the longer that I shoot it. I’m simply amazed by the filmic colors, the light rendition, and the depth and latitude of the files. This is my fifth digital since I began shooting in 2009; I started out with a Canon Rebel XSi, then quickly moved to a Canon 5D, then switched to a Nikon D700, then a Fuji X-E1, and now finally the M9. Along the way I’ve also shot a variety of film cameras; the Nikon F100, Contax 645, Contax Aria, and Olympus 35-SP. This is the first camera, film or digital, that feels 100% like home when I shoot it; where the shooting experience is perfect, composing is natural and uncomplicated, and the results come out exactly how I saw and felt the scene when I took the picture. A 50mm lens on a full frame camera is definitely where I am most comfortable, it’s the combination that matches my eye and my vision. I love shooting a rangefinder, and I love the cinematic look that the Leica gives my pictures. The cherry on top is that the M9 is so compact and sturdy that I can slip it into an everyday handbag and carry it with me everywhere.
These images have very little done to them; I have a Lightroom preset I’ve made that makes a few minor tweaks, but what you see is basically how the images come out of the camera. Which for me, as someone with years in the business of digital post work and a bit color-obsessed, is astounding.
One thing I have learned is that it’s so important to find your happy place with the gear you use. A decision for a camera should be about what gives you the results that you want to see in your work – not about brand, film/digital, megapixels or ISO performance, what is hip or cool or the latest greatest, or what your favorite photographer shoots. A Hasselblad is a super cool camera, but it wouldn’t fit my style – while it fits Johnny’s perfectly. An M9 feels exactly right for me, but it doesn’t for everyone. I picked the M9 (and my lens) because I saw “this is me; this is the look I have been missing in my pictures”. I’m so happy I did, because through finding a tool that feels like a part of me, I found my way back to being excited and inspired in my photography again.