Revealing Your True Self

I love this passage from German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche (1844-1900) on how to find your identity: “Let the soul survey its own life with a view of the following question: ‘What have you truly loved thus far? What has ever uplifted your soul, what has dominated and delighted it at the same time?'” Answer these questions, Nietzsche says, and they will reveal your fundamental self.

Obviously, I’ve been thinking about these issues a lot recently. It’s 12/12/22, and I’m just back from another visit to the hospital and then ‘recovery’ at a hospice home; hospice homes are where people go to die. Mine is coming soon. I’ve had another bout of intestinal blockage which has left me on a liquid diet till I die. I’ve told them the next blockage is probably the end. I don’t intend to seek further treatment but rather want to simply be sedated and allow the inevitable. I suspect, given the amount of cancer eating away at me, that that should be in the next month or so. If I suddenly stop posting, that’s probably the reason – I’m dead. I’ve made arrangements for a post notifying readers of the fact; whether that get’s done I can’t say.

I bring up the Nietzsche quote because it applies to the role photography has played in my life. For some reason, even as a kid, photography resonated with me in a way nothing else did, which is wonderful, because I somehow chose an avocation that’s allowed me to reveal something of my true self, affording me an intense means of expression for intimate concerns I may not have been able to articulate in my thoughts, in conversation, or in writing. That’s a remarkable gift.


What do I want my legacy to be? I’m not sure. What I am doing now that time is short is putting my entire photographic corpus in order. I’ve digitized everything I can, negatives have been discarded, old prints thrown out. I’m printing 50 of the photos I like the best – a lifetime distilled into 50 photos; try to do that – all 8×12 mounted on 16×20 matts. My intent is have have my estate exhibit them at a memorial for me at one of the art spaces in Raleigh – maybe the CAM Museum here downtown. I can’t think of a better way to say something about who I was.

In doing so, I’ve had to make some hard decisions about what gets in and what doesn’t. It’s one thing when it’s simply an exhibition, one among others, that you’re mounting. It’s another when its purpose is a summary of your life. And old habits die hard – its incredibly difficult to be tossing books of negatives and prints accumulated over 50 years, but the reality is if I don’t do it, someone else will once I’m gone. At least this way I have some control over what survives me.

So, back I go to pruning and printing…..

Which leads me to a question for you readers: What do you want to see happen to Leicaphilia when I’m gone? Should I pass it off to someone else? Should I just let it sit as a memorial until someone neglects to pay the hosting fees and it vanishes into the ether? What should I do with all the (admittedly) good things that I’ve done with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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19 thoughts on “Revealing Your True Self

  1. Keith Laban

    I’ve never considered Leicaphilia as a Leica centric anything. I see it as one man’s personal opinion piece relating to his own photographic journey. As such it will be difficult to envisage in another form and see it as anything other than a memorial to a very talented photographer and writer.

    That said, there is a dearth of such sites and the loss of Leicaphilia would be sorely missed by many. I suppose the site could continue as a meeting place for like-minded enthusiasts and fellow curmudgeons, but would it be able to continue and succeed without Tim at the helm as the driving force?

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Thanks for the kind words, Keith. That’s the question: is there any role for the site once I’m gone? We have wonderfully good writers who read it and post replies often. You, Rob, Stephen, Kenneth Wajda, etc etc. Maybe someone else could take it on….just thinking out loud.

  2. Philip

    Hello Tim,
    I’ve never posted but I’ve been a long time reader of yours. I loved it when I agreed with you and loved it even more when I disagreed!
    I remember once when your page became frozen all of a sudden on this “Notes from home, part Deux” section and I wondered “why did the gifted and interesting author of this beloved page stop posting?”. Every once and then, a refresh button still kept me stuck on the same page. I’ve told myself maybe he’s fed up with this, but “knowing you” it felt to me that this does not make sense.
    And then I’ve read the shocking news on Macfilos but… you came back once more for a most impressive “Part Trois” of timeless posts
    I feel sad yet, “every end is a new beginning” and I hope that your work stays alive and keeps going with someone that carries over your legacy with his or her own style but with your blunt, honest, rich and still respectful mindset, that someone you believe should take ownership of your page.
    I don’t deserve it, but if you run out of candidates, do consider me as I cannot see your page stopping. You gave, you’ve built something, it stays.
    My prayers for you in this journey

    1. Leicaphila Post author


      I will consider you. I’m open to anything and anyone at this point. Trying to assess the lay of the land. Feel free to email me at if you’d like to discuss how you see things going forward and how you might be part of that. And thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot. Cheers, Tim

  3. Dan Newell

    I would argue for a freezing of the site. Maintaining integrity is important.
    Your site deals with a transitional period in photographic history with the philosophical aspects of that transition. For those that are wrestling with the myriad choices, they may be asking “well, what’s the question?” How you arrived at that juncture has to be viewed within the time context.
    That doesn’t exclude Leicaphilla 2 as it could be. But it would preserve a body of work in the way you wanted it to be.
    Just as an example, Rob and I exchanged notes on the newer Leiter Foundation book. I think I can safely say neither of us was overwhelmed. Not to say that intentions by all concerned wasn’t an honest attempt but I doubt Leiter would have been in full approval.

  4. Hank

    While I doubt my abilities to actually run the entirety of a blog such as Leicaphilia, and won’t volunteer to do so, I certainly could contribute regularly. That SD Quattro I rented is now mine, so I could see keeping the Foveon/digital B&W thread going. It’s an intriguing camera in so many ways, and the color has surprised me. I shot with a Hasselblad X1Dii for a while, and the Sigma’s color rendering reminds me of the Hasselblad’s. There is something to the look of the files. There’s a “there” there.
    I’ve also discovered someone who is converting the Ricoh GR cameras over to monochrome. My GR3 pretty much is sitting quietly in its corner, sad and lonely…I could see that being an interesting adventure, to breathe new life into the little GR.

    But! I am still not convinced that continuing Leicaphilia is really such a good idea overall. It is so much of your voice, Tim. I fear it would just become another camera/photo blog in anyone else’s hands. I’m not sure we need that – it already exists.

  5. Rob Campbell

    The site, post- you, would have to be completely different. As it is right now, it depends totally upon your idiosyncrasies, your education and personal input. It’s what creates the interests and the difference between this and other sites. Throw in photographic talent, and those darn shoes are just too difficult to fill; even the late, great Jerry Lee would be hard pressed to pen a formula to suit.

    I don’t believe it can be done: natural writing skills are far from being enough. It’s a personality thing.

    My ten cents? Consider it a work well done; you have impacted a lot of people the right way. Not a lot of us can claim that. Enjoy the present as best you can, without worrying or breaking your heart over what remains after you.

    Leave audio evidence of your sojourn amongst the people you love: how I regret the absence of any audio of my late wife’s beautiful voice.


  6. Christopher Dubea

    Tend to agree with Rob.

    Leicaphilia is you Tim.

    Without you, it would be void.

    The good news is the Wayback Machine has been archiving the site for future usage.

    The latest crawl is about 6 months old though. Don’t know if you can request a crawl, but if so, that would be great.

    God bless you and your family.


  7. Pierre Saget

    One idea would be to select a number of important posts and compile them into a book. Leicaphilia: A Anthology by Tim Vanderweert.

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      My wife says this is something she might want to do. Maybe she can get some insight for readers along the way. I assume she’ll be posting some things once I’m gone – housekeeping stuff essentially. Maybe she could offer the book through the site for a nominal fee.

  8. Lee Rust

    Tim… It seems to me that your postings are not so much photographical as they are are philosophical… lifelong reflections of a search for self, as framed in viewfinders and mirrors.

    It’s not just about the cameras or films or artful images… it’s the way you write about those things that has made Leicaphilia so engaging for those of us who are less willing or less able to articulate our thoughts and intuitions as freely as you do.

    An ongoing Leicaphilia would be like the ongoing Kodak… it just wouldn’t be the same. A static archive might eventually vanish for any number of reasons and your excellent ‘Tutorial For Those Digital Souls Desiring Authenticity, Process and Tactility’ would be lost forever.

    Maybe a printed archive? Something like the ‘Low-Tech Magazine’ website, which curates appropriate technology know-how and offers a print-on-demand edition in serialized book form…

    That would take a lot of effort though, and time and energy are short. After my own bout with cancer I know how the horizon can shift. You might consider honoring your life and work by planning for a second photo book, and choose your fifty favorites with that eventuality in mind.

  9. Dogman

    Tim, there is no Leicaphilia without Tim Vanderweert.

    At some point, I plan on digging through the archives here and reading it all. If I can get through the great philosopher’s crap (smiley face). You’ve been an inspiration and a joy to read. I never thought I’d say that about a goddamn lawyer but, yeah, you’re an okay guy.

    Save the site as an archive but I don’t think it would have the same tone if someone else was writing the posts.

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Lee: How dare you call me a lawyer. It just paid the bills. Plus, I loved being a thorn in the side of the powers that be. I was always on the side of the little guy who too easily get’s squished by the system. But I never defined myself by my profession. If I could have made more money digging graves, I would have been a grave-digger.

  10. Andrew

    Dear Tim:

    I have been reading Leicaphilia, the only blog I read regularly, for the past 5 or 6 years, checking for a new post in my office and sending it to a printer so I could read it in peace and think about it before going to sleep. I did not make comments but I read your every entry; often you inspired me, made me laugh, made me think and yes, sometimes even irritated me, but Leicaphilia was always interesting. So, all I wanted to tell you is: thank you for sharing your thoughts on photography, and that I find much of value in your writing, and that I enjoy your photography. At the end of February, I finally retired but before I left my office, I printed all the blog entries and stapled them so that I could reread them at some point; I was concerned that Leicaphilia could disappear.

    You asked what your readers would like to happen with Leicaphilia in the future. If someone can (and these are huge shoes to fill) continue the blog that would be wonderful. If your wife would edit the blog and publish it (An Anthology as Pierre suggested) in a book form that would be a wonderful way for your words to live. I would hope that she would not edit out the various fun stuff, for example stuff on Thornsten, Lenny et al.

    Is it possible to make friends without ever meeting or talking to them? After reading your blog for this long a time, contemplating on your ideas, and some of your most personal entries, I do feel (on some level) you are a friend to me. Thank you again, Tim. May your path be a gentle one.

    With warmest regards, – Andrew.

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Thank you Andrew for the kind words. It’s great to know my blog posts gave you some entertainment and made you think. That’s high praise.

      Those 20 coffees are going to keep me up for some time. Your friend, Tim

  11. Bill B

    I have no words. I admire your courage. You have not gone gentle into that good night.

    I thought Henry McCracken [?] the astrophysicist was going to take over, but I guess that has fallen through. One option that was worthwhile was the occasional guest post or reprint selected by you of people who are keen on photography or film Leicas.

    For example, there have been There recent blog reports on Don McCullin, behind a Winogrand photograph with Tod Papageorge, Tadeas Plachy using an old M2 in Prague, Bryan Appleyard on Tri-X, Christopher Moss about how the camera lies, Joseph Oxandale about his return to photography using an M3 and a 50 summicron, Temoor Iqbal on film’s stunning comeback, to name a few. It is invidious to name some and not all but the list would be long and nothing would be served by being exhaustive. But who will hold the blow torch to Torsten v.O. or Leica Vanity.

    Obviously I have downloaded most of your posts, thinking that they would disappear in time, and some of the thoughts are worth rereading and pondering over. They say that anything on the internet lasts forever, but in my experience it lasts forever until it disappears in a blizzard of broken links. I shall keep coming back until that happens. All the best.

  12. Marco

    I know that my comment is late for blog standards: as other have mentioned I came back to your site for a number of times and keep finding “Notes from Home, Part Deux” as the last post.
    A few days ago for whatever reason (maybe a bird suggested me?) I learned the sad news.
    My ten cents on the future of this blog: let it be frozen as it is and made available to those that haven’t discovered it yet.
    It is an invaluable source of inspiration and information.

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