Notes From Home

Me, somewhere in Italy,  a la Vivian Maier

As some of you may have noticed, Leicaphilia went dark for a bit, partly out of negligence and partly from ambivalence. This summer saw a number of personal and professional issues come to the fore – let’s call it an existential interlude – (“crisis” probably being too strong a word) – the end result being that keeping up with the site got pushed way down on my list of priorities. An interesting thing happened along the way, however: I got lots of emails (and even a call to a relative) inquiring about my well-being, which is nice. I do appreciate them all. And yes, I’m fine, thank you very much. Other than being 15 lbs heavier from eating too much pizza and drinking too much wine while in Italy, I’m good.

The larger question, the source of the ambivalence, remains the issue of whether this blog – the emphasis on film photography generally and Leica film cameras in particular- has anything  left to say. I’ve been publishing it for 5 (?) years, or thereabouts, and it often seemed to me that recently I’ve been simply refashioning the same argument over and over e.g. I love old mechanical film Leicas, I love both the craft and the aesthetics of film photography, and I think we do photography an injustice when we consider the practice of film photography an anachronism. So, I was seriously considering just shutting it down without further ado and going back to whatever else I’d go back to were I not thinking about such topics.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), based on the response I’ve got after going dark, some of you seem to miss it and think it fills a niche. I was especially taken with a guy who contacted me through the Leica Forum to inquire what was up. He liked the blog because it was the only place on the web where someone might discuss both photography and Wittgenstein. I like that, and he’s right: I’m of the opinion that Wittgenstein and others, ostensibly “philosophers” without any real connection to photography as a practice, might have interesting ideas which apply to how one thinks about photography and what we do as “photographers.”

Paris, August 2017. Shot with an iphone

My recent trip to Italy and France – which I documented in my last few posts – also contributed to the ambivalence. While I took an M4, a few lenses and bag bag of film, I ended up barely using them, opting instead to use my iphone 6, as much an impromptu decision as a calculated plan. I just got sick of dragging a camera bag everywhere I went, and I saw no real need to reflexively engage everything with a camera to my eye. For travelling light, you simply can’t beat a camera phone, and it helps when it doubles as your phone, laptop, map, compass, flashlight, ipod and notepad. But I also saw two exhibitions of film photography – one of various photographers at Museo di Roma in Trastevere, the other a Walker Evans exhibit at the Pompidou in Paris that I was fortunate to be walked through before hours (knowing people has its perks) – both of which renewed my belief that nothing digital is capable of matching the simple beauty of black and white film photography.

7 am, Paris. Cycling through Paris early morning is a great way to see the sites

Now home, I’m procrastinating dealing with the seemingly inevitable problems that come along with iPhone photography, the first and most obvious of which is that most of the photos I took are no longer on my phone but in ‘the Cloud,’ and, of course, I can’t get into ‘my’ Cloud. Meanwhile, the 8 rolls of film I took are waiting to be developed, no ‘Cloud’ or password or whatever the hell else needed. Just some Diafine and an 8 roll tank. More to come soon, I promise.


11 thoughts on “Notes From Home

  1. apparently

    As the philosopher Wittgenstein Churchill said, golf is nothing but a good walk ruined…

    Well he might have. 🙂

    I think that you have mistaken your little old blog for a little old blog, when it is really about life through photography…

    Before you went dark, I had the privilege/audacity to read most of the blog and I surely can’t be the first person to tell you that it is really, very good.

    Keep buggering on.

    Me, I have just sold my digital Leica and replaced it with a nice Nikon S2/1.4 and my first gallon of Diafine smuggled into Ireland and then on to England via a mutual wedding. My scanner has broke and I have a Plustek 120 on order.


    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Thank you for the kind words. Think of the S2 as a step up in your photographic evolution. When the digifiles laugh at your camera, just remember the joke’s on them.

  2. Rick Smith

    I’d discovered Leicaphilia only a couple of months ago and was enjoying it thoroughly, still trying to catch up on older posts. Then to my great dismay the screen went blank. So glad you’re back. Most of BlogWorld is jada-jada-jada and blah-blah-blah. I may read it anyhow, and then hate myself for doing so. Leicaphilia, though, is worth my time, enlightening, entertaining, well written and thought provoking. Thanks for being here.

  3. Rob Campbell

    I concur with what’s gone before: always something here that’s better than the latest gear-talk, which, frankly, bores the hell out of me.

    It simply doesn’t matter if one can afford to go the Leica way or just plod along with the old digital things one bought years ago; the real point about both this blog and photography is the making of images, how one feels about them, and sometimes how to find anew the strengh to get into actually producing more of them, not always as easy a thing to do as some imagine.

    The most difficult thing about photography is maintaining motivation and freshness. In fact, I often wonder if freshness itself is really relevant or possible: doesn’t one eventually end up making the same image over and over again for the rest of one’s life? Whether via flm or sensor, with better technique through lots of practice, but still, in the end, the same thing with more polish is probably where it settles.

    I bought the eponymous Jeanloup Sieff book some years ago, his last one shortly before he died; he’d long been a hero of mine. Since then, I’ve looked at a huge volume of his work online and the handwriting shines through, just as does Sarah Moon’s and that of Hans Feurer. There’s nothing wrong with a rut if that rut is wonderful!

    If Leicaphilia may think itself in a rut, long live that rut!


  4. Howard Pan

    I’m glad you’re back. This is a wonderful blog for Leica aficionados and film photographers. If it were gone, I would feel something is amiss. Thank you for sharing.

  5. HarryBH

    I for one am very glad to have you back if that is your choice. I agree with others that your blog brings more to the intellect of photography than most others I read for awhile and then drop. While you were “on sabbatical” I worried Leicaphelia was gone . But despite the notice the owner of the site needs contact the ISP and then the blank screens, I would dutifully check in again every few days.
    “Life through Photography.” I could not have said it better…


  6. Jim Wolf

    Thanks for coming back. I missed you and the way you put cameras to use for which they were intended. I shoot digital at work and black and white film for my projects. You have been an inspiration. I understand how much work this can be for you and hope you continue.

  7. Kenneth Wajda

    Hi. I was another one who was checking regularly to see if it was back and I knew it would be. So, thanks for coming back and keeping this alive.

    I’m a big believer in deadlines make things happen and I always tell my artist friends that you need good deadlines and then you’ll be accomplished. Because it becomes a requirement.

    Well similarly, a few months ago I started a project to document America and ‘Show America to Americans’ like Roy Stryker did in the 1930s with the farm security administration photographers like Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. I’m using film photographers from all 50 states and you’re welcome to submit your work–it would be great to add it to the collection.

    It’s at and I’m only allowing documentary film photographs into the collection and so while I used to walk around with a Fuji x100 and shoot digital, now I cannot because those photos are useless to this project and so now I am 100% shooting film in one of my Leica’s or a Nikon with a 20mm.

    And I love the work that I’m doing and I find it to be so much more rewarding than digital snaps, and it’s only because it’s required that I’m doing it and I’m thankful for that.

    If you’re shooting your phone, perhaps it’s because nothing with film is required but make film a requirement and you suddenly get in the habit of shooting film again. And what a treat it is to shoot my M5, M2 or any one of my Nikon film SLRs.

  8. Steve W

    I am glad your blog is back so I don’t have to write one myself. It is the blog I would write if I was motivated. Keep up the good work!

  9. Larry Cloetta

    Am another one who had been checking the web address periodically, and glad it showed back up again this time, somewhat to my surprise. The first time I encountered the generic “this domain for sale” or whatever it said, my thought was “Oh dear, he’s finally done it, abandoned us to deal with an uncomprehending world all on our own.”
    Glad you’re back.

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