The Leica Meet on Aug 27th in Paris was a special event for two reasons. Firstly it was a genuinely international Meet. We had members visiting from Germany, Holland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Switzerland, UK and of course France. Secondly it celebrated our first year as a group! A year in which three guys who didn’t even know one another when they met to shoot along the South Bank of the Thames in Aug 2013, then went on to set up a Facebook page and website with a membership currently approaching 5,000. Paul Borg Oliver decided to nickname Stephen, Gavin and myself, ‘the three musketeers’ and that was particularly appropriate as we were in Paris.
Fuelled by coffee/croissants courtesy of The Leica Store Paris we set out to explore this wonderful city. With around 36 people it wasn’t practical to walk together so we split into groups and periodically met up. Fortunately we had Laurent Scheinfeld, James Kezman and Cyrille Bailly who lived in Paris and showed members, areas with different characteristics. With the occasional stop for coffee plus lunch the day bubbled along with newly made friendships. It was fascinating to note the variety of seeing and shooting styles from zone focusing/holding the camera anywhere except at eye level, to asking permission, engaging with the subject and becoming part of the process. Conversations ranged far and wide but always came back to Leica and no doubt several items have been added to several wish lists.
The brief was simply to shoot our personal interpretation of the areas we visited. Although we had ample opportunity for urban landscape and architecture, the magic of Paris is in the street. The city seems to have a joyous energy that effects both tourists and locals. With so many opportunities all around, most of us shot in the Street genre. It was here the Leica M series blossomed. They seemed tailor made for this kind of environment. Relatively small and light in weight and bulk, the camera gets out of the way so we can get on with making the image. A marriage made in heaven. As you’ll see from the accompanying gallery we have some very talented photographers in our group and we’re proud of the work created in a just a few short hours.
We’d agreed to meet back at The Leica Store at 18.00. We expected ‘some wine and cheese’. But we were in a for a shock. There were four different wines, six different cheeses, cold meats and hand made chocolates! The generosity and hospitality of Gaelle and Emmanuele from the Leica Store was amazing and truly appreciated. We could not have asked for a better end to the day.
We like to say that our Meets are not workshops. There are no teachers and no students. However the reality is that if you are open minded there is always something to be learned from someone in such a creative group.
As for the three musketeers; we would like to say a huge thank you to all our members who attended and made it so enjoyable. We missed the fourth musketeer, D’artagnan (aka Eileen McCarney Muldoon) who is based in Rhode Island, USA.
However, she is more than compensating by running a Leica Meet in Boston on Oct 15th. It’s called the Boston T Party to celebrate Leica making some complimentary Model T cameras available for the day. Check it out it’s going to be a creative and enjoyable day. One for all and all for one!
Some of the most rewarding aspects of The Leica Meet are the new friendships and the remarkable talent we encounter. One such person is Laurent Scheinfeld, a Paris based photographer with a unique perspective on that iconic travel destination, the Eiffel Tower. Here he describes his fascinating project.
Millions of people dream to see the Eiffel Tower. Trocadero esplanade, which undoubtly is the best view point for admiring the Tower, counts several millions of tourists from all over the world, every year. Surprisingly, the dream becomes reality and the place then offers a strange ballet of people shooting themselves in front of the Eiffel Tower, playing with its image as if it was a goal in life to get their own picture in a posed or grotesque attitude in front of the Tower. I love my native town Paris and I love the Eiffel Tower. Through a social and psychological analysis of the viewers, I try to catch the decisive moment when the people and the Tower are in harmony; the Towers’ ubiquity disappears and leaves the viewers in a state of grace. Is there anyone on Earth who didn’t one day say, “I want to see the Tower?”
Watch out for my ‘Meet the Leica Meet’ interview with Laurent on The Leica Blog later this year. Olaf.