Street Photography on the Way to Work

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By Frederic Strauss for Leicaphilia. All photos by Mr. Strauss (Leica IIIg, 35mm Summaron, Tri-X @ 800)

In the early 1990’s I was using a bunch of different cameras. I like small, stealthy cameras for a variety of reasons. I was using a couple of auto cameras, a Contax T, a neat little Canon pocket camera and my ‘big’ camera was a Minolta SRT 101.

A business partner’s father had recently passed away, a doctor, and he had told me he would lend me one of his dad’s Leica cameras. I waited, with great anticipation, but after a few weeks he told me he could not find them and that one of his brothers may have taken them. Disappointed and tired of waiting, interest now stirred, I rented an M6 with a 35 Summicron for a weekend. The feel of the camera, the manual control,  the simple interaction with the Leica were wonderful. I shot a few rolls, returned the camera on Monday and dropped off the film for development and contacts. The next evening I looked at the contacts and that was it – I was hooked on the shooting experience and results. Totally. That Friday I bought an M6 and a 35 Summicron. I gave away the Minolta and lenses to a friend who could not afford a new camera system.

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I still use the M6 today with my favorite 35 Summicron. I’ve added lenses over the years but still mostly use the 35 Summicron. Eventually I did get the promised Leica cameras from my business partner, bodies only, an M3, IIIc, a IIIg, all as gifts. I purchased screw-mount lenses for the IIIc and IIIg. I use the cameras on an impromptu basis. The screw-mounts really connect you to the process of capturing the image you are after.

I carry one of the cameras with me almost constantly. When I go to work I walk less than one block from the train station to my office in Manhattan, certainly a photo rich environment. Since the year end light is much less in the morning I push Tri-x to 800 to give me more latitude to shoot at a higher speed, particularly with the 35 Summaron F3,5 on the IIIG.

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Frederic Strauss is an  architect in New York City. He uses a Leica M6, an MP and IIIg with a 35mm.