After traveling and having done many workshops on street photography, I have met many Leica M9/rangefinder users who have had difficulty configuring their camera for shooting on the streets. There are lots of misconceptions out there, which make things confusing for people. Therefore here is some advice I have for Leica m9 users (or Fuji x100 or rangefinder users) when shooting street photography. (Note that for the original video, the audio gets cut out at 16 minutes, so I edited the video down).
Check out the video below, and I have things written in more detail below!
My good friend Todd Hatakeyama (and sponsor over at SimpleStudioLighting.com) and owner of the Hatakeyama Gallery (grand opening in Downtown LA this Saturday from 5pm-10pm) recently gave me a his old Leica M6 to shoot with and have. It has been great shooting with it–as it helps me slow down and be more critical when shooting (compared to my Leica M9). I can’t quite describe it, but I feel much more zen when shooting analog vs digital–as I don’t worry so much about the final image but focus on the process of shooting.
Also if you want to pick up a film case from Bellamy Hunt or find a sweet analog camera from Japan, check him out at JapanCameraHunter.com.
My Leica M9P* (gaffer tape upgrade) and 35mm Summilux 1.4.
About a few months ago, I finally achieved one of my lifetime goals: purchasing a digital Leica (the Leica M9 to be specific). Although I was enthralled by the camera the first month I tested it (when Leica loaned me one for my Paris trip as well as a 35mm Summilux) the initial glitz and glamor faded away. However after shooting with one, I knew I wanted to get one nonetheless for a variety of reasons (explained in this article).
For this review I am going to give you my honest review of the camera, not focusing much on the technical aspects (other sites have already done this to death) but how it actually performs when it comes to shooting street photography. Considering that I have only been shooting with the camera around 3 months—I am not an expert with the Leica M9. However having shot with it enough when it comes to street photography, I am very confortable discussing how it performs when shooting on the streets.
Alfred Eisenstaedt once said, “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter“. Upon reading this quote, it made me start thinking differently how I approach my street photography. When I started off, I would avoid eye contact at all costs, often shooting from the hip or being a little more sneaky. However nowadays, I actually prefer making eye contact with my subjects the majority of the time and even interacting with them after taking the shot. Often times when things are a bit too hectic on the streets, I don’t talk much with people but whenever I have the opportunity I try. Keep reading to learn how to interact with your subjects more when shooting on the streets.
The day has finally come that I got my Leica M9 and 35mm 1.4 Summilux in the mail! I have always wanted one, and with the generous support of my loving mother paying for half of it, I am now a proud owner! I just wanted to thank everyone for my street photography journey and helping me live out my dreams. After all, if it weren’t you guys attending my workshops, writing comments, or spreading the word I couldn’t do street photography full-time. Also remember, the Leica is still just a tool. Don’t feel that you need to own a Leica to get good photos.
I am glad to announce that my first day of the street photography workshop was a huge success! Everything went off without a hitch, and the workshop has been great so far! We had a wonderful group of participants for the workshop and great food (courtesy of my mom and younger sister). Not only did we have a great time discussing about street photography and learning tips and techniques for the street, we were able to go out and test some Leica gear when we went shooting.
Many of the participants were able to test out Leica cameras such as the Leica M9, Leica X1, Leica D-Lux 5, and I had the great pleasure of playing with the Leica S2. All I have to say it is a beautiful camera (although a behemoth). The image-quality is unparalleled (it’s hard to tell on the web) and felt solid in my hands. It isn’t an ideal camera for street photography and was difficult to use in the streets, but it was fun.
Also I am going to have my next Intermediate Street Photography Workshop in Los Angeles on August 27-28th. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested or would like more details!
Another fun video of me shooting with the Leica M9 and the 35mm f/1.4 Summilux in Santa Monica’s 3rd street promenade. To record this video, I put my HTC EVO 4G Smartphone’s camera through the viewfinder and walked around and shot. Didn’t include the photos I took during the video because most of them came out out-of-focus (holding this setup was hard). But I hope this video helps you get a better sense of what I see when shooting street photography :)
When I first got my feet wet in street photography and heard of Leica cameras, I couldn’t quite understand the hype surrounding it. Sure it looked like a cool and retro old-school camera, but why the heavy pricetag? After doing my homework, it seemed like everyone who owned one would rave and praise it. In Chris Week’s street photography documentary, “Documenting the Human Condition” he highly encourages everyone to try shooting with a rangefinder and noticed that the “haters” have never shot with Leica’s themselves. This piqued my interest, however I never even dreamed that I would have the chance to shoot with a Leica.