When Leica photographer Oliver Preuss isn't at home in Guatemala, he's traveling the world with his beloved Leica M9 rangefinder. Oliver's love for photography started at an early age, as his father always had cameras in the house. Oliver was an early adapter of digital photography, however, shooting with the Leica M9 has allowed him to rediscover manual photography and the art of the optical rangefinder.
Oliver's Leica M-System images will be featured in our customer gallery at Leica Store Miami through September 14th. Make sure to stop by and see these beautiful prints!
Q: How do you like working with the Leica M9?
A: I loved working with the M9. It was a step back to the basics of photography that I believe I really needed and wanted. Before purchasing the M9 I hadn't manually focused a camera in a long time…I had fallen into the automated world of the DSLR's. Shooting my M9 was a truly liberating experience, and a step back into the film realm, but with the advantages of digital. I loved the fact that I had to think about a shot before taking it. I started to take less shots and putting a bit more thought into each one…a bit like in the film days. It did wonders for my enjoyment of the art of photography. Last year I moved on to the Leica M (Typ 240), which I believe is a magnificent machine and the ultimate marriage of Rangefinder and Digital technology.
Q: Do you generally prefer to photograph landscapes or people? Why?
A: I love taking landscape photography. We all have had those moments when we look at a landscape or a sunset and feel our heart skip a beat…where one is in awe of nature and its beauty. To be able to capture the essence of that moment and be able to share and re-live that instant in time is an awesome feeling.
Q: Which M-System lens or lenses do you use the most? Do you have a favorite focal length for your photography?
A: My preferred lens selection has evolved over time. As my love for landscapes grew, so did my love for wide angle lenses. The workshop with Leica Store Miami in the Everglades in 2012 gave me the opportunity to try out the 21mm Super-Elmar-M…it was love at first sight. The 21mm Super-Elmar-M and my 28mm Summicron-M are always in my bag.
Q: Do you place more of an emphasis on the technical or the creative aspects of your work?
A: I believe I am more of a creative guy. The basic enjoyment of capturing a moment in time is what makes me love photography.
Q: What (or who) inspires you most in photography?
A: There are so many good and fantastic photographers out there, that it is increasingly difficult to stand out. Two types of photographers inspire me the most… those that use their photography to create awareness for a cause, and manage to do so artistically, and those that go to the ends of the world to capture that landscape that makes us want to have been there.
Q: Do you prefer color or black & white images? Why?
A: Most of the time I prefer color…simply because it is the way we look at the world. Black and white photography, however, has a beauty of its own, and can be very powerful. So I guess sometimes it just depends on the mood I’m in.
Q: What is your favorite place that you have ever photographed? Is it somewhere familiar or exotic?
A: Most of my photography happens when I am on vacation… so a lot of it involves the ocean and the beach. Because I like landscapes, the more exotic, the better. It is hard to choose a favorite place however, as every place has its magic. If I had to choose a photographic experience as a whole, I would choose the everglades workshop with Leica Store Miami and Paul Marcellini. Paul had already chosen fantastic and beautiful landscape, so it was pure enjoyment for 4 days straight. Being part of a group that likes the activity as much as one does naturally adds to the experience as one shares anecdotes, images, and photographic talents.
Q: Leica has a special place in the world of photography. What does your Leica mean to you?
A: Aside from the historical weight of the Leica name, Leica is true photography to me. No other photographic instrument will let you experience this art form as Leica does. From the moment you take that rangefinder into your hands, to the moment you focus those lenses and see what you can do with them… you will be hooked.
Q: What do you plan to photograph next? Do you have any upcoming trips or photo adventures?
A: In late September I plan to visit the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua Mexico. I can hardly wait.
Our new customer gallery features Maria García, a local photographer who captures Miami in bold contrast and deep colors using her Leica D-Lux 6. Maria has been part of the Leica Store Miami community from the beginning, and we've watched as her photography has developed into a dramatic and distinctive style.
Join us on Saturday, May 10th for an opening reception for Maria's work. The reception will be held from 4-6 PM. RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (305) 921-4433.
We had a chance to pick Maria's brain a little bit concerning her photographic process.
Q: When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression?
A: Since I was a kid, I always was interested and fascinated with the possibility of being an active player in capturing a moment in time with a "small box and film." In the early 80's, I had the opportunity to learn how to work in a dark room to develop B&W film and print. I will never forget the process of seeing the picture slowly appearing on the photo paper still submerged on a tray and realizing that was exactly what I was trying to express.
Q: How would you describe your photography?
A: Mostly spontaneous, without much planning, trying to capture the unusual in the everyday environment. My interests vary, some days I look for subjects in nature, other days for subjects around the city, but not necessary fitting the "street photography" concept.
Q: You use a lot of shadows, silhouettes and bright colors in your photography, is that something that you specifically look for when photographing?
A: Not intentionally in the past. After I attended two workshops hosted by Leica Store Miami, one with Alex Beker, and the other with Chip Litherland, a new "window" opened that allowed me to deliberately look for the light, the colors, the shadows, the silhouettes, the details, and the composition... Since then, I focus on those aspects and sometimes I can incorporate, successfully, several in one photo.
Q: In a few of your images you have silhouettes of people passing by – do you find a scene that you like and wait for the right person to pass by or do you capture the moment as you come across it?
A: Usually, I find a scene I like and try to see how the additional elements (people, birds, wind, clouds, cars, etc) alter and/or add something to the space making it more interesting.
Q: What initially sparked your interest about the Leica D-Lux 6?
A: I had the opportunity to try it during Alex's workshop. After that experience, it became my favorite camera.
Q: How does shooting with the D-Lux 6 complement your shooting style?
A: Perfect size, weight, and even though it is a "compact" camera, it has many features that makes it versatile and unique for my shooting style. All I need in one!
Q: Are you working on any new projects or series now?
A: Yes, working on a close-up series of ordinary objects capturing un-ordinary point of view. Wish me luck!
We're excited to have Hans Van Leeuwen's as our next customer gallery artist. Hans is originally from the Netherlands, however, he currently lives in Curacao, an island in the southern Caribbean Sea a few miles from Miami. With his Monochrom and 35mm Summilux in hand, Hans documents island life in beautiful black and white images.
Q: What was your first Leica?
A: My first Leica was an M6, about 15 years ago.
Q: How do you like using the Leica M Monochrom?
A: It is a fantastic camera. Using black and white only - not even able to shoot color should I want to - keeps you focused on the end result in black and white. This creates a different look with more attention for compositions, patterns, structures etc.
Q: Some photographers are lifelong users of a particular focal length, such as the 28mm, 35mm, or 50mm. You photographed this project entirely with the 35mm Summilux-M, is that how you “see” the world as you photograph it?
A: For street photography I hardly use other lenses than the 35mm. When travelling for work, I just take the 35mm along. The 35mm has the most natural angle. When photographing at events, I may use other lenses, like 24mm or 50mm depending on the circumstance and the desired result.
Q: How is it to live and photograph in Curacao, instead of being a tourist on vacation there? Do you get to know the locals better and become more a part of the place you are photographing?
A: Curacao is not an open air museum, like Cuba or India - it takes time to make good pictures. I do often return without any picture at all. You will need time as well to communicate with the people from Curacao.
Q: How did you go about selecting subject matter to photograph and what draws you to a specific scene? What grabs your attention as you walk around?
A: I am selecting random themes on Curacao for this project. Themes are important to create the interactions between the pictures. The themes are street life and the use of light in Otrabanda, the old part of Willemstad, listed as Unesco world heritage site. Leisure and weekend life at Boka Sint Michiel, a local beach and fisherman’s village. Finally, Base Ball in Curacao. Baseball is the national sport, each year a few Curacao youngsters earn lucrative contracts in the US. Other non-selected themes are Pasofino (horse) tournaments and the Curacao carnival.
Q: Do you find that the Leica M system allows you to travel light, without compromising on image quality?
A: The M camera is light in size, but not in weight. It does allow you to communicate more easily with the people you would like photograph. It feels more polite to use an M camera than offending people with a large DSLR with huge lens and even larger hood.
Q: Is your approach to photography more technical or artistic?
A: I would say more artistic, but nevertheless, in order to get the best result, it does require proper use of equipment, including processing in Lightroom and Silver Efex. The files of a Monochrom are extremely detailed, especially in the blacks, but just out of camera they look disappointingly grey. Using a Monochrom forces you to spend time on post processing.
Q: What inspires you most in photography?
A: Photography is different every day. Even when the subjects are not very original, each picture may be extra ordinary. But the condition for me is that the pictures are great on its own. A fantastic story is not enough for an inspiring series. Best series have both.
Q: Why did you prefer black and white for these images? Is that your usual preference or was it specific to the photographs in this series?
A: Since using the m6, 95% was black and white. At the time digital photography was introduced, the quality of black and white was not good enough. Processing and printing is great now, so I am definitely back at black and white.
Q: What is your newest project? What are you working on right now?
A: The Curacao project will continue for a couple of years. At the end it should result in a larger exposition somewhere. In the meantime, I have to combine photography with work and will make time to enjoy photography, for instance by a visit to Cuba later this year. Not very originally, but it does provide photography fun.
Hans' images will be up in the Leica Store Miami starting next Monday, March 17th. Make sure to stop by and see this beautiful Monochrom work!
Upcoming later this year, other winners of the customer gallery submissions will include: Maria García, Dirk Raffel, Oliver Preuss and Scott Morvay. Thanks to everybody who submitted and congrats to the winners!