Summer Break at Leicaphilia

I’ve started receiving inquiries recently whether I’m OK, as in “Things have been a little dead on the site recently. Everything OK with you?” Which is very nice, knowing that a few folks look forward to reading the blog and miss it when it goes dark.

The answer is Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking. I’ve been incredibly busy in my professional life dealing with important things i.e. things that, were I to screw them up, would cause no end of misery for certain people. So there’s that. There’s also the fact that I am presently devoid of anything interesting to say about Leicas, film photography or photography generally. Just one of those inevitable fallow periods, a time to turn my attention elsewhere.

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This is a Great Camera

I got thinking about the blog yesterday, in part because it was the first time I’d picked up a camera in some time. Given my status as ‘official family photographer’, I’d been dragooned into being the “wedding photographer” for my niece; you know, “could you just take some pictures during the wedding and the reception, no pressure etc etc?” As you know, it’s not that simple. Good wedding photography is an art unto itself, and I admire those who do it well. In any event, I decided to keep it simple: Two Ricoh GXR bodies, one with 50mm GR module and the other with the GR 28mm, each with an optical viewfinder mounted on the hotshoe. The combination worked perfectly, the 28 AF for the tight stuff and the 50 AF for standard shots and headshots. I’ve long thought the Ricoh GXR system to be exceptional – well built, compact, ergonomic, with superb optics mated to dedicated sensors that obviate the need for the compromises inherent in using the same sensor for various focal lengths. Plus, you have the option of the Leica M-mount sensor, allowing you to use your M lenses with an M specific sensor.

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Me. In Training. This is one of the reasons you haven’t heard much from me recently

Now that I’m clear of professional obligations, I’m off to Italy and France for a few weeks. Part of the trip involves cycling ridiculous distances at absurd speeds attempting to keep up with a French friend I refer to as the “Romainville Rocket.”  For those Parisian folks I’ve gotten to know through the blog, I’ll be in town the 12th through the 19th. Feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to buy me a coffee and talk Leicas.

In the interim, I’ll be publishing some interesting posts sent me from readers.  Leicaphilia will be up and running full steam again the end of August, assuming I survive the Romainville Rocket.

4 thoughts on “Summer Break at Leicaphilia

  1. Archiver

    Good to see you posting again, and good luck for your trip!

    Funny that you should use the GXR at a wedding. A few years back, someone was getting married and they had hired some commercial pros. The father of the groom said that I could take photos, ‘if I wanted’ and that it would be good to have a ‘different perspective’. My pride a little miffed, I took it upon myself to shoot it like a job, even though I was a guest. And to be fair, I keep my photographic exploits mostly away from that sector of the family, so they wouldn’t have known what I do.

    I came with my M9 and GXR with Leica M module. With me was an assortment of lenses, but I mostly used the Zeiss C Sonnar 50mm f1.5, Summicron 50, Summarit 75 and Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8. I worked in a kind of artistic documentary style and I loved using the GXR, although the lag time between shots got me a few times. The couple received 120 images from me that I culled from the 900 or so that I took over the course of the whole day and the next morning. They were utterly delighted and liked them more than the photos they got from the professionals, which I found quite funny.

    Once they knew what I could do, I was later asked to shoot a 60th birthday. My first response was, “my rate for that kind of engagement is usually $xxxx, but since you are family, it will be $zzzz”. This shut it down rather quickly. You see, I make a living out of imagery, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to be drafted into being a family photographer by people who think I’ll give my professional best for a family pat on the back. If I offer to do it, fine. It’s a gift. But don’t expect it from me for free, thank you very much.

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Nice story. You’ve nicely articulated the problem we face as photographers: friends and family seem to think you’re available at no cost to “take a few pictures.” Deliver something less than professional product and you’ll shortly hear, confidentially of course, that said friend or family member is disappointed with the results. In my case, I was press-ganged into the assignment a day before the wedding with the casual remark from the bride that she was hoping I could bring my gear and take a few photos, at which point I realized they’d not bothered to hire a pro. Realizing it was me or nobody, I accepted but did what I usually do in such instances – I decided to be passive-aggressive. I used the least professional looking kit I could find and adopted a “what the hell” attitude about the whole thing, which in an odd way liberated me from the typical formulaic approach. I’ve done a first pass on the results and they look promising. Now I’ll procrastinate just a bit in getting them to the bride, just a reminder you get nothing without a cost. And yes, the one downside of the GXR is the shutter lag, which caused me to miss a few killer shots.

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