Tag Archives: Thorsten Overgaard

Everything Must Go!

This was sent to me by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous:

Once upon a time – actually a fairly recent time – my email address found its way onto the distribution list of Thorsten von Overgaard. “von” Overgaard (the ‘von’ being added a few years ago, after he married a princess) sent me numerous invitations to his free “Masterclass”. Apparently he wished to share with me some of his secrets, totally free. Actually, he’s been bombarding my inbox for some time now. Thorsten really wants to share his photography knowledge with me. And it’s all free. Nice chap, I thought.

I’d been around the world photographing people and things, won some awards, had a museum show or two along the way – nothing super-special, never photographed a Royal though. What I’ve learned through all of it: stay humble and stay hungry…and you’re never too good to learn a thing or two from a recognized expert. To assess Mr. Overgaard’s credentials, I checked his website. Lot’s of bokeh, his motto “Always wear a camera,” and a publicity photo of him with a strip of 35mm film wrapped around his face. Working photographers stopped using film for their pro work in, oh, 2003 or thereabouts. What the fuck was that about? Back in 2003, as I understand it, Overgaard, yet unaware of his royal roots, was working as a coal miner or something like that. Maybe he was shooting film in the coal mine. Well, it is free.

I took the plunge and joined his webinar one day. It began with a ‘host’ reviewing von Overgaard’s numerous accomplishments and then introducing him. After his intro, Thorsten commenced to share what he had learned in a long career photographing royalty, celebrity, and armed conflict around the globe. As for inside information – it was, according to Overgaard, “all about the light,” light being very important. We could learn more if we ordered his book The Freedom of Photographic Expression, wherein everything was laid out in simple, easily understood terms. Plus, it had many of his award-winning photos, photos that used light to great effect, especially if you used a Leica. It was all there in the book. Some guy from Canada seemed to think the book was worth every penny: “Exactly what I craved. Excellent book. I plan to attend one of your workshops this year.” C. S. (Toronto) During this, comments running along the right side of the screen exclaimed, “Incredible masterclass,” “I’m learning so much,” “This is incredible!”.

After a few minutes, I went back to doing my own work.  Over the course of the next hour I checked back a few times, finding what appeared to be greatly satisfied customers streaming compliments as Overgaard pitched his products, which apparently are designed to comprise a “system.” von Overgaard sells his complete package for $5,688.  But today, and today only, we could get the whole thing for $479.99. The complete package. Shipping, of course, was extra. A number of satisfied customers remarked that that seemed an incredible deal. I had to admit – that was a helluva discount.

In my brief and random returns to the webinar, I did see one comment complaining that there wasn’t really any instruction going on.  However the overwhelming majority were saying how great the webinar was.  Just for fun, I wrote a comment, “Where’s the substance?” and was kicked out of the webinar and summarily banned.  

What I took from all of it? It’s all about the light, and his book will explain it better. Imagine my surprise when I saw you can now pick up a copy for 9 bucks, when a week ago it was $197 before shipping. That’s a 97% savings.

More Flim-Flam From Thorsten von Overgaard

Thorsten Overgaard and his Elephant Skin Camera Bag with Cashmere Lining. Perfect for your Sultan of Brunei Leica While Photographing Danish Royalty.

Luxury Camera Bags and Luxury Bespoke Suitcases for World Travelers
by Thorsten von Overgaard

You want the ideal product that fulfills all of your needs, made to make you happy every time you touch it, and made to last forever

Thorsten von Overgaard travel [sic] to more than 25 countires a year and live [sic] his life in a suitcase. Every bag is put to maximum use.

Thorsten von Overgaard and Matteo Perin joined forces to design luxury travel bags for people who appreciate the best and demands durability for a lifetime.


Thorsten von Overgaard [he’s added the “von” recently – “von” traditionally denoting aristocracy***] has transitioned into the luxury camera bag business. Apparently, when Goyard in Paris wouldn’t fix Thorsten’s Goyard Aplin backpack, damaged while travelling to his Royal Mongolian yurt, Overgaard decided to make his own bags. To do so, he sought “the best artisans […] using best possible materials, based on many years of experience, resulting in a product that could last for generations.” The end result is him “joining forces” with some fellow Scientologist meatball named Matteo Perin to produce crocodile and elephant skin bags. Who he’s partnered with to shoot the elephants to skin for the bespoke bags is not clear. Perin claims he “makes trunks, blankets and all the luxury items you can think of, for private airplanes, villas, cars and yachts.” Right.

It’s always been obvious to me that “von Overgaard” is a transparent huckster, a confidence man preying on  gullible low-hanging fruit, spinning some bullshit narrative about luxury and beautiful people and world travels and Leica, this just being further proof that a sucker is born every minute and some of those suckers will end up buying a Leica and taking a street shooter’s seminar with  “von Overgaard.”


*** Overgaard, who for some reason started referring to himself as “von Overgaard” a year or so ago, took up photography in 2005. Before that he worked in a lumber mill [true]. He seems to have no real gallery or publishing or photographic industry presence other than self-promoted fluff pieces hyped by a marketing agency and some self-published books. A deep dive into the footnotes of his scantily sourced Wiki is hilarious. Here’s some more interesting info on Mr. Overgaard.
Overgaard is married to fellow Scientologist “Princess Joy Villa.” The Princess was born in Orange, California, to the Rev. Joseph Villa, of Italian descent, and Mildred Angela Pierce Villa, of Afro-American and Native American blood. She attended Lompoc Public High School, no University education noted.  According to her Wikipedia page she is an “actress and producer,” “her acting career mostly consists of minor, un-credited appearances on television. These roles include an umbrella-wielding carny in a “Heroes” Season 4 episode.”  As for her claim to be a “producer,” no production experience is referenced. On October 27, 2017, apparently unfamiliar with the residency requirements for elected office, Villa announced that she was considering running for US Congress as a Republican in either Florida, California, or New York.   Her Wikipedia page contains no further update on her political ambitions since that time, nor any further “minor, un-credited” acting gigs, with or without umbrella.

Matteo Perin has been doing bespoke luxury for millionaires and celebrities for years.” [Sure he has.] Apparently, in between hobnobbing with all those aristocrats nobody bothered to teach Monsieur Perin to keep his feet off the Florentine ebony table. Obviously “New Money.” 

*************

Perin, presumably, modelling a croc duffle bag which apparently has no room for the M4. Someone needs to tell this guy to tie his shoes.

The Leicaphilia Guide to Leica-Related Websites

My thoroughly idiosyncratic, subjective opinion of various Leica-related websites, in no particular order. Take it for what it is…and sorry for offending anyone.

APUG: A-
Hardcore film users. Emphasis on “hard core.” Need to know developing times for some weird Hungarian film pushed to 6400 ISO and developed in Diafine? Someone here is bound to know. Bury your head in its archives for an extended period and you’ll learn everything you need to know about film photography.

Japan Camera Hunter: B+
Camera porn.

Erwin Puts: B
The perfect site for Leica techno geeks. Putts is obviously a bright, knowledgeable man who loves his Leicas and knows a ton about them. Reading the site, however, is about as interesting as reading the manual that comes along with your Canon Rebel.

Leicaphilia. C+
A weird melange of Leica history, facts, social criticism, self-righteous luddite indignation and ostentatious philosophical meandering. The functional equivalent of a reasonably intelligent college student blog, by turns entertaining and thoughtful, often paranoid, repetitive and stupid. Still can’t figure out who runs it, however.

Summilux.net. A-
The French Leica forum. I love the French and highly recommend the laconic and often world weary skepticism of almost everything here. Got to be able to read French though, which disqualifies 99.9% of American readership.

RFF: D+
Ahh, Rangefinder Forum. Unabashedly dedicated to over-the-top gear fetishism (“what three Leica bodies and six lenses should I take on my bus tour of Khazakstan?”; or “I’m wondering what gives better bokeh for pictures of my cat? The Elmarit 2.5 ASPH or the third version Cron?”). To be fair, It does have some decent people and technical info to offer, (Bill Pierce and Tom Abrahamssen are treasures, as is Sonnar guru Brian Sweeney, who seems to know everything ) but it too often devolves into the virtual equivalent of old guys meeting at McDonalds to discuss their grandkids. If you must go there, tread lightly, don’t suggest anything remotely thought-provoking or counter “common sense” (this place just oozes bourgeois insecurity) and, whatever you do, don’t challenge the self-appointed forum guru, an easily identified forum “mentor” whose idea of “mentoring” is to compulsively hector, in his most pretentious Queen’s English, anyone with the nerve to express an original opinion not first thoroughly vetted by him.

LUF: B+
RFF without the annoying and often sadly ridiculous RFF Moderators, and thus significantly lighter on the herd mentality and conformist passive-aggression toward independent thinking.

Steve Huff: C-
Likes to take pictures of his wife.
He is what he is. I admire his enthusiasm, and you gotta give him credit for finding and exploiting his niche, which he has done in an impressive manner, although his critical faculties leave something to be desired. Typical new gear review: “its the best camera ever! I’ve fallen in love with photography all over again! ….”. Rinse and repeat.

Ken Rockwell: D+
See Steve Huff. Rise and repeat except delete the wife photos and add some really cliched cheesy photography I’d be embarrassed to turn into an “Intro to Photography” course given at the local community college.

Thorsten Overgaard: C
Scientology meets Leica mania, or the Leica world’s particular version of “alternative facts.” There’s something weirdly fascinating about the site, as if it were an infomercial written by a Leica engineered Bot. I always feel slightly dirty after going there, like I need a shower.

Dante Stella B+
Mr. Stella is obviously a bright, well-informed man, and he’s an excellent writer. There’s a lot of good film era information here. Unfortunately, the website is hopelessly outdated.

Cameraquest: B+
Would get an A for all the useful info, except the website design itself has all the sexiness of the AOL era. My bet is he’s still using dial-up. The proprietor apparently is a licensed dealer of Voigtlander products (good on him), although from looking at his website, you’d assume he’s probably selling them out of the trunk of his Ford Taurus.

La Vida Leica: D-
Unofficial propaganda arm of Leica Inc., sort of the Fox News of Leica Nation. Leica “News and Rumors” for those who’ve drunk the Leica digital Kool Aid. Think “Shutterbug” magazine with nothing but Leica 24/7.