Leica Akademie Workshop with Craig Semetko

©Craig Semetko

©Craig Semetko

If you are in the Los Angeles area (that would be CA, AZ, NV and WA), or need a fantastic weekend workshop then follow the link below to Craig Semetko’s Leica Akademie weekend. Craig is an exceptional photographer and inspiring teacher. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

Not a Leica owner? You do not have to own a Leica to attend a Leica Akademie Workshop. Tom A. Smith, Manager of Leica Akademie North America, will be on hand with the newest Leica equipment for participants to use through out the weekend. I can say that Tom is also a very good photographer and a good guy.

When & Where

Friday, May 16, 2014 – Sunday, May 18, 2014
Leica Store-Los Angeles
8783 Beverly Blvd
West Hollywood, California 90048
424-777-0341

For more information and to register follow this link

Craig Semetko “Unposed and Unseen”

©Craig Semetko

©Craig Semetko

Leica Camera invited 10 photographers from around the world to participate in an extraordinary event. These photographers would be paired with their artistic “fathers” and asked to shoot a series of images with that person in mind. Craig Semetko’s creative progenitor was Elliott Erwitt and with Erwitt’s influence to inspire him Semetko set off for India in the summer of 2013.

 “India is a street photographer’s dream. The people are extraordinarily welcoming—they do not mind having their pictures taken, in fact, they usually welcome it…”

©Craig Semetko

©Craig Semetko

Craig Semetko is one of the best street photographers practicing the craft today. Craig was gracious enough to allow us to use three of his images from his India trip in this post. These photographs along with many others are included in an exhibition currently showing through 5/25/14 at the Leica Gallery in Los Angeles.

This body of work is also now available as a limited edition book, “India Unposed.” Sure to be a collector’s item, you can find the book by visiting the link below.

India Unposed – Book
Leica Gallery Los Angeles
Craig Semetko’s Web Site

 

©Craig Semetko

©Craig Semetko

 

 

Fine Art Photography Grows in Popularity

On 4/9/14 the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced, “…the creation of the John and Lisa Pritzker Center for Photography, which will be the largest exhibition space for photography and among the most advanced photographic arts centers of any art museum in the United States.”

With the construction of the 15,500 square-foot center, SFMOMA will be adding close to 11,000 square feet of exhibition space dedicated to photography. The museum will be adding photographs to its collection by artists: Edward Weston, Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Jay DeFeo, Robert Heinecken, Lewis Baltz, John Divola. Ansel Adams, Ken Graves, John Harding, Hal Fischer, Michael Jang, Pirkle Jones, Dorothea Lange, Mark Ruwedel, Stephen Shore, and Larry Sultan.

So is this move by SFMOMA an anomaly or is the popularity of photography as fine art on the rise? As stated in a piece by Gareth Harris in The Art Newspaper, “…will the crowds turn out to fill the galleries? If exhibitions at other museums are any sign, the answer is most likely yes.” Harris goes on to say that this popularity exist especially in the 20th century classics of photography.

To read more on this topic I have included links to the two articles I have used as sources below.

SFMOMA Expansion

Mass Exposure Why Museums are Focusing on Photography

“Let Us Roam”

©Arto Saari

©Arto Saari

Most of the Leica crowd falls into that venerated category I affectionately call “The Geezers.” But believe it or not there are young folk using Leicas as well!

Leica is currently sponsoring a series of short films by young Leica users. The “Let Us Roam” series of short films is an ongoing project to feature photographers, artists, and film makers inside the world of skateboard culture. “Let Us Roam” is the next generation making its mark on visual culture. Makes a “Geezer” feel good.

To find out more about “Let Us Roam” I have included these links:

“Let Us Roam” Website
Leica Blog Post: Interview with Chris Murphy, Creative Director
“Let Us Roam” Film Trailers

 

Rob Lemmon on the Hard Work of Photography

©Rob Lemmon

©Robert Lemmon

Rarely does the digital din of online photography web sites, blogs and forums provide a satisfactory explanation of where a photograph comes from. How a photographer came to make a series of photographs can be as important as his or her technical knowledge.

Rob Lemmon is in many ways a typical Leica M Monochrom everyman. He is not a professional, not trained as a photographer, and does not make a living in a photographic trade. Rob is exceptional in the fact that he has a passion for the art of photography and pursues that passion in a thoughtful and dedicated fashion. In this interview we talk to Rob about his journey to make that “rare, great photograph.”

 

Interview

Q: Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first. When did you start using a rangefinder camera and how long have you been using the M Monochrom?

RL: I’ve used a rangefinder camera (Leica M9) since July 2011 after taking a street photography workshop entitled “Unposed” with Craig Semetko and Quinton Gordon. At the workshop most participants used rangefinder cameras. I spent some time after the workshop researching cameras and finally decided to invest in the M9.

I was converting most of my M9 images to black and white, that is when I began to think seriously about investing in an M Monochrome. After  shooting with an M Monochrom at a Leica M Workshop in July 2013 I decided to make the M Monochrom my primary camera body.

©Rob Lemmon

©Robert Lemmon

Q: Generally what do you carry with you when you are photographing?

RL: I keep it simple, the M Monochrom with a 50mm Summicron M lens and a back-up battery. Other times I will take my camera bag with my 35mm Summarit M lens and the M9.

 Q: We connected through Adam Marelli. Adam is a terrific photographer and a generous teacher, what influence has he had on your photography?

 RL: I participated in a workshop that Quinton Gordon does for Leica – “The Truth About Photography.” During the review, Quinton liked one of my images taken with a 50mm and said that Henri Cartier-Bresson always shot with this lens when he shot for himself. After the workshop I researched Cartier-Bresson and found several articles that Adam had written.

As I read his articles, I realized we shared many of the same ideas. Basically that to be a good photographer, let alone a great photographer, you have to understand art and the influence of the Masters. That is; what makes a work great, the use of light, contrast, design, and composition. I don’t have an art background but I understand what Adam means about the importance of art in photography. My images have always had good composition and design, however, as I read more of Adam’s articles, I began to think about exactly what I was trying to capture. I knew at some point I had to meet Adam and work with him.

Adam’s workshop in Verona and Venice provided the opportunity to work with him directly and offered an excuse for my wife and I to travel for an extended period of time. In his review of my images that I had taken prior to the workshop, he quickly noted that many of my images share the sensibilities of Cartier-Bresson as well as the painter Edward Hopper. As we talked, he gave me more examples of their work but also identified other areas in which I needed to put more focus. Adam asked that I send him some of my images as our travels continued after the workshop. His critiques of my images led to the Violin Maker series. Adam’s own photography has also influenced me, especially his series on the Japanese craftsmen. Adam’s influence has been subtle, direct and sometimes hard to define.

Q: It appears as if you often shoot in low light situations. What is it about that imagery that appeals to you?

The sample of images that I sent you of the luthier were the ones that I really liked and to me demonstrated the extraordinary ability of the M Monochrom to shoot in those circumstances. I think what appeals to me is the atmosphere, the mood, the evocative contrast of light and dark. I have made images taken in bright light, they have definition of detail, but to me they just don’t have the same appeal as the low light images. You used the term ‘chiaroscuro lighting’ with respect to the luthier series of images. I also believe that my looking at paintings of the Masters on visits to the galleries of Europe and North America has had an important influence on my photography.

©Robert Lemmon

©Robert Lemmon

Q: Your images of the Paris Violin Maker are very intimate, how did you find the luthier and establish that kind of rapport?

RL: One of Adam Marelli’s comments was that I needed to “Keep creeping forward with people…. find reasons to get more engaged with them.” In Paris the luthier’s workshop was very close to my apartment and I would walk past his shop almost every day… I was simply intrigued. I followed Adam’s advice and finally rang his buzzer. The luthier opened the door and in my poor French I explained that I would like to photograph him as he worked. In his equally poor English he agreed.

He went to work on a violin repairing the strings, etcetera and I simply photographed him. Neither of us spoke. He concentrated on what he was doing and I concentrated on shooting. I shot for about a half hour and at the end asked if I could come back another day. Three days later I stopped late in the afternoon, he let me in and went back to work and I shoot for another hour until he said, “Voila, we are done.”  I thanked him, we exchanged business cards, I packed up, he locked the door, got on his bicycle and cycled down the Quai de la Tournelle.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the lighting in the Paris Violin Maker series?

RL: The luthier’s workshop was quite small, his workbench was at the back of the shop and in a corner. The only light was his workbench light that is visible in some of the images.  There may have been a small ceiling light but it was of limited value. The workbench light was quite strong and directed downward to provide the light he needed. It is this light that provided the ‘chiaroscuro lighting’ for the images.

 Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received about making photographs? 

RL: There are probably two things – Adam Marelli’s advice was, “be more engaged, get closer to the subject.” The second came from Quinton Gordon’s workshop and is one of his “Truths about Photography” that is – “Photography is hard work and a really great photograph is rare.”

Rob-Lemmon-1002356

 

Charles A. Meyer

©Charles A. Meyer 2014

©Charles A. Meyer 2014

A camera is much like a musical instrument; each one is simply a tool, but when matched with the right artist, something more happens. Leica has been kind enough to loan us one of their M Monochrom cameras from time to time, so we can have the privilege of putting it in the hands of that “right artist.”

Charles A. Meyer is a critically acclaimed fine art photographer and filmmaker. A look at his portfolio places him in the respected circle of fine art black & white documentary photographers. Many know Charles from his years of teaching photography at Boston College. The students that came out of his classes were excellent technicians, but also creative and inspired with a love of photography. I can say this with some authority, as I have known a good number of his students.

Charles took the Leica M Monochrom out on a cold, clear day to Revere Beach, Massachusetts. I caught up with Charles a few months later to get his impressions. [Keep Reading…]