Ok so I’m in conversation with a friend and he mentions something about Leica lenses and trending prices of one versus the other, and then this just comes out of me like a projectile vom moment. It’s so good I’m blogging it. Slightly modified for context and clarity, sort of.
35 cron has always been THE lens to have with Leica cameras. It’s like a right of passage lens. It has nothing to do with the quality of optics or what people do with the lens, but it has this mythical status of achievement.
First you go from digital to film, and get into the film scene, and then you get a few fixed lens rangefinders and claw your way up through that lineage from cheap clean Konica’s to Yashica’s, Agfa’s, Olympus’s etc, and finally find that sweet Canonet, and lust for a QL17 GIII, and realize that it’s actually usable, and really produces some hot-shit pictures on your favorite film. Some people will go on to medium format beaters, and modular systems, Lomo, specialty, low financial impact cameras and into that camera obscurity rabbit hole.
Somewhere along the way you make the connection between that Canon/Nikon rebel and this new film thing your into, and start thinking about cameras that have lenses, and rangefinders and the Russian Fed/Voigtlander Bessa/Konica Hexar/bashed up Zeiss Ikon inevitably steps in and makes you a rangefinder photographer. Then its one, two, or a few used Screw mount Canon/Fed/Voigtlander lenses, and you’re always striving for that mountain peak of a Leica lens, and in the middle of all that comes a choice Zeiss ZM lens, something that puts you a little closer to that mountain peak.
One paycheck, after a christmas bonus or something, you can fill in the gap between your savings and that figure that sits in the back of your head, the one that you can deal with as a credit card debt, and that’s the day you can start getting serious about all those watched items in your My eBay, or forum classifieds, looking for that perfect Leica Camera deal. Whatever it is, maybe an M4, M2, M3 or even an M6. Your new bling Leica with your choice Zeiss, Voigtlander or Konica lens.
But in the end all you really want is that fucking 35 ‘cron.
I love and respect all of the people I photograph on the streets. I see you, and I see you in the fragmented moments when you are off guard, unaware, and existing in the space between consciousness and biology.
To my heroes, my street loves; my respect, always.
I’ve lived in Seattle since November 25th 2004, and in that time I have seen some slow changes, lost touch with a lot of people who moved on, disappeared left town etc. It’s really not until 2013 that the physical changes happened in the city that I could start to think I was living in a dynamic place.
I came to the US with an expectations of grandeur.
I was really surprised when I got to New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and DC and was hit in the face with the fact that these were aging cities, and the sense that the people living there, really didn’t have much actual control or say over anything that went on, because democracy got in the way. Id assumed the US was bright shiny and new.
As a European, I had always grown up with places that were maintained and there was a real sense of local pride and everyone was involved in it.
Over the years and traveling around, I’ve seen enough of it to tell me that this country is definitely a continent in decline. A place strangled by conservative values, and disregard for everything except money.
The US is definitely not a place I want to grow old in, and yet, I don’t know where else there is now that hasn’t adopted the same capitalistic values, and with that the utterly destructive nature of that which is held in high regard: individualism.
In sorry to say that it’s only now, 25 years into my career, that I am becoming aware of Ernst Haas. The publicly available repertoire of the man’s photography is immense. His philosophies of remaining independent and never adhering to a dedicated style are self evident.
A quote from the Ernst Haas Estate website affirms to me, now 25 years on, that my personal belief and instinct were correct all along;
“Still, I don’t want to declare there are no highways of fruitful directions. In learning there are. Follow them, use them and forget them. Don’t park. Highways will get you there, but I tell you, don’t ever try to arrive. Arrival is the death of inspiration. Beware of direct inspiration. It leads too quickly to repititions of what inspired you. Beware of too much taste as it leads to sterility. Refine your senses through the great masters of music, painting, and poetry. In short, try indirect inspirations, and everything will come by itself.”
Be aware of forward inspiration, but reverse-engineer everything, think backwards and look for the defining characteristics and recurring foundations in everything. Everything else is just dressing.