Why I am at peace with a Leica?
I photograph people with Leica. I love portraiture, weddings, street photography among other genres but it almost always involves people. I strive to let people be themselves, their true self in my pictures, even if it is a portrait shoot in a studio. A person in a picture, for me, mirrors reality, even if the settings, lighting, ambiance are surreal. The people in them should be a true reflection of their inner self. To achieve the above, two things are important:
The subject should become comfortable with the picture making process. In weddings, when I am walking around shooting with my M10, people never look at me as a serious photographer. The retro look makes most people believe that I am shooting with a film camera for fun. The bride and groom obviously know but they are too busy to notice an innocuous guy with a tiny, almost silent camera. People at events are so used to big cameras and long zooms and flashes that lack of those suggest that there are no photographers around.
This makes everyone less conscious. No one ever turns at me when I am taking a picture. As a true candid photographer that’s a great boon.
Even during a portrait shoot, as I talk to the subject and we explore various postures and expressions, the camera is almost forgotten.
The photographer must be an integral part of the scene and photograph the subjects space. This is especially true for weddings and street photography. Using long focal (200mm etc.) lengths isolates the subject so much that one can never make out the space around the subject. The Leica M series tops out at 135mm, which is also not a highly sought after focal length. 75mm is probably as far as I would go. Most often, I see myself using the 21mm, 28mm and the 50mm. Wide angles not only capture the subject’s expressions but also the ambience in which they are operating and thus help in storytelling. The Leica philosophy of making a 35mm camera was to let people making pictures become an integral part of the scene and capture the action up close rather than from miles away. A wedding is a grand event that yields itself perfectly to the Leica philosophy.
For me, pictures that show the subject in their elements and show the space in which they are, have more appeal that isolated subjects.
A Leica is a perfect storytelling tool. The most important factor in making subjects comfortable is that you never keep fiddling around with camera controls as you photograph them. With the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, all on the exterior of the camera body and highly intuitive, it becomes a breeze operating the camera during a shoot and concentrate purely on framing and lighting. The camera is just a medium for capturing your visualization of the frame before you, nothing more, nothing less.
– The Leica Fan