Leica 35mm Film Cameras And The People Who Use Them

Nikkor 50-

In 1970, as a 12 year old child, I fell in love with photography. That’s me at 12, in my parent’s bathroom mirror with my “Black Paint” Argus/Cosina SLR, already dreaming of my first Leica.

In 1977 I purchased my first Leica M camera, a new M5 bought from Cambridge Camera in New York City. Since that time, at one time or another I’ve owned and used every model of the Leica M.

Many of the 20th Century’s iconic images were taken with simple mechanical Leicas loaded with Black & White film, photographs by the likes of Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Leni Riefenstahl, Robert Frank, Rene Burri,  Josef Koudelka, Garry Winogrand,  and Sebastião Salgado.

Ancient by today’s technological standards, Leica film rangefinders embody a timeless ethos wherein function and simplicity are guiding principles. A “simple” mechanical Leica film camera will never be cheap, because it’s been designed and built to last a lifetime.

That’s me, over there, at age 62. In the half century between the first and last pictures, I’ve used Leicas to document my life and the lives of the people around me, easily 300,000 negatives or more. And Yes, I still shoot film. Digital capture is amazing, but in a way, it’s too easy, and too much of my use of it devolved into overproduction and overthinking, killing the spontaneity inherent in pleasurable use.  I still use that first Leica, my M5, almost a half-century after I purchased it. I feel an allegiance to it – it’s an old friend. I know it and it knows me very well.  It’s simple, and it stays out of the way. When I’m gone, I plan to pass it on to someone I hope will appreciate and respect it the way I do. Try that with your digital camera.


My CV  “Thorsten [von] Overgaard style”:

Tim Vanderweert is an award-winning photographer, photojournalist and gallery represented Abstract Expressionist painter whose photos and paintings hang in private collections both in the States and in Europe. His photos have been published in B&W Magazine and Vis A Vis Paris and exhibited at SPEOS Gallery in Paris. In 2006 his paintings and photographs were exhibited along with award-winning Macedonian painter Robert Cvetkovski at the Sizl gallery in Carrboro, North Carolina. He is friends with King Charles and has dined with numerous celebrities, including Susan Sarandon and James Spader. He has sat at table with Susan Sontag in Paris and discussed her iconic book On Photography. He has shared a room with Henri Cartier-Bresson. He has travelled to numerous countries on 4 continents photographing in his unique, muscular B&W style. He has bumped into many famous people while engaged in ‘street photography’ in Paris and on the Lower East Side and Soho in NYC, but is sophisticated enough to leave them be. His photographic education includes study at The New School in NYC, The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, and SPEOS Paris, where he studied under Cartier-Bresson’s Master Printer George Fevre. Being a man of great integrity, he has consistently rejected commercializing his work, as such standing in the tradition of uncompromising artists like Robert Frank. He has also earned graduate degrees in religion/law/history from Duke University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a matriculated graduate student at Harvard University until he was stricken with cancer. He is noted for his trenchant writing on his influential award-winning Leicaphilia blog. Photographing seriously since he was 12, he has been blessed with an innate ability to photograph with light he sees. In 2005, he brought that innate sense to his remarkable large canvas paintings. He always wears a camera.

Unless otherwise noted, all content is written by me.

You can contact me at leicaphilia@gmail.com

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