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The Leica History - Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4

The Grandfather of 35mm Photography - Page 3

By: Thorsten Overgaard        <--- Back to Page 1         Page 4 --->

Leica might very well be the grandfather of 35mm photography, which they invented, but photography existed before and also besides Leica cameras and Leica photographers. So let's spend some time looking also at the history of photograhy, and other photographers. We might learn something.

[a work in progress. Feel free to mail me at with comments, ideas and suggestions]



Jan Grarup, Denmark: "Eampaty, time, closeness and respect"

Jan Grarup in this Februrary 2011 video interview from Swedish

Jam Grarup: "Editors are not necessairly the most bright peope in the world," is one of the interesting statements from Danish photographer Jan Grarup in this Februrary 2011 video interview from Swedish on how to survive as a photographer who wants to tell stories. He used to shoot Leica M6 till he needed to go digital, and now shoots Nikon dLSR cameras with manual focus and fixed focal lenghts (from 24-85mm). He doesn't own a zoom lens.
Jan Grarup is a multi-World Press Photo award winner throughout the last years, winner of the Oskar Barnack Award 2011, along with a lot of other awards, and is a freelancher with NOOR and Das Bureau these days.


Herman Leonard: "Always tell the truth, but in terms of beauty"

Herman Leonard self portrait (AP Photo/Herman Leonard Photography, LLC., CTSIMAGES)

Herman Leonard (1923-2010) was the man behind iconic images of Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra. He won great priase, and well deserved, in the years before his death, in that he was the first photographer to be granted a Grammy Foundation Grant for Preserving and Archiving in 2008, enabling him to digitize, catalogue and preserve his collection of 60,000 jazz negatives. He also received the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Portraiture in 2008, and Bill Clinton said of him that he "is an extraordinary talent, the greatest jazz photographer in history." Lenny Kravitz, who photographed with Herman Leonard in the Bahamas in January 2010, said of him "I was blessed to have shared beatiful moments with Herman that will be among the highlights of my life."

For a look into his work, Herman Leonard tells "My favorite camera was the old speed graphic, that 4 x 5, handheld, large monstrous thing that you see in a lot of black-and-white films from the '40s and '50s. It was that newspaper man's camera - great big thing you held with two hands and it had a big flash on the side. You had to take your time. You could only take a certain amount of pictures in one night, physically I mean. The camera didn't have roll film. It had 4 x 5 slides. You could only carry so many film packs physically unless you were a horse. So if I went out to shoot something at the Roost or Birdland, I knew that I could not snap more than twenty or thirty pictures for the whole night. You had to be really careful and take your time about what you were shooting, compose it well and wait for the right moment. Sometimes I'd go for many nights without having a good shot. I would go home, process the stuff, and throw it away. In time you get up a collection of good shots. When you work with smaller cameras you have a tendency to overshoot, hoping to catch that moment, and you end up with a lot of junk."

Dexter Gordon - © AP Photo/Herman Leonard Photography, LLC., CTSIMAGES
Dexter Gordon photographed in 1948 by Herman Leonard. The smoke is illuminated by flash. (AP Photo/Herman Leonard Photography, LLC., CTSIMAGES).

Harman Leonard on composition: "You look, you just look. I think that when a musician or a musical composer sits down to compose a piece he will get the general outline of what he is doing and then he'll refine it, listen to it back, and make the changes that he wants. When I'm sitting there in front of a drummer or sax player, I look. I look at the angles. I look at the light. I look at the background. And being disciplined by using a large camera, you have to look. You don't look into the camera, you look at the subject. You feel the composition within the frame within which you're working, and you do it to your own liking. I happen to like a certain style. I like back lighting because it sets the subject off from the background, especially if the background is dark, which most of the clubs were. I like light that goes around the subject and not flat lighting."

For more on Herman Leonard, visit or read this 1995-article from where the above quites are from, "Herman Leonard: making music with light."


Jay Maisel

Jay is a living institution and theaches very popular workshops in New York, focused on colors and using dSLR cameras.


Vivian Maier

The incredible story about the unpublished photographer Vivian Maier who left a goldmine of street photographs when she died in 2009. In November 2011 the first book came out with her photos.


Martin Munkácsi: "All the great photographs today are snapshots"

In the 1930’s a photographer named Martin Munkácsi who had come to America to escape the Nazis, was highly respected through his work in Harper’s Baazar and was the highest paid photographer in history. He never worked indoors and always in black and white.

He always used large format cameras and changed fashion photography. Dynamic pictures in new settings and women who seemed happy about the fact of being free.

His knowledge of composition, -his father was a painter who worked as a magician to earn some money on Sundays- made him the “man who liberated women”. His images possess a new dimension and the models stopped looking languid and gloomy. Instead they looked sporty, cheerful and attractive.

For most of his life he was an adventurer and began the search for good pictures during the 1930’s and 40’s. From Berlin, the young Hungarian travelled to New York, London, Liberia, Rio de Janeiro, Hawaii, Turkey, Seville and San Francisco, looking for stories to shoot.

In all his images, from sport event and reporting to photos of starlets like Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn and Leni Riefenstahl, he projects an air of informality. He always refused anything other than the natural “all the great photographs today are snapshots” he would say.

Henri Cartier-Bresson confessed that the photo that touched him most in his life and made him to go out on the street with his first Leica was a picture taken by Munkácsi in 1932 on a beach in Liberia, in which some children are entering the water. That picture stopped beauty for a moment.His camera also shot a volatile Fred Astaire on white background and the strong descent on skis of a young Leni Riefenstahl; but apart from motion he printed poetry to a scene of a naked woman hidden behind a parasol. The images were an idea: “Think while you shoot”.

When he died of a heart attack in 1963 at age 67, his archives was offered to several museums and universities. No one was interested. Until five years ago the world knew of only 300 of his images, until one day on eBay 4000 glass negatives appeared that had been found in Connecticut. The ICP (International Center of Photography in New York) negotiated a price and bought it all.


Ralph Gibson

"When working with the Leica M Monochrom the first thing it displays is a stong feeling for a distinct middle gray in the image. As though the camera looked there first. I belive the reason for this because in the world of socalled reality the mid-range is where the most object fall on the visual spectrum. This provides an intersting point of departure into the creative process.

"Many photographers have asked themselfes if the camera sees what they see with their eyes or do the eyes learn to see what the camera sees. Their images profoundly depend upon their answer to this question. To this day Photography continues to inform my vision."

- In his book MONO, Ralph Gibson


Ralph Gibson by Thorsten Overgaard
Ralph Gibson at Paris Photo in Los Angeles, April 2015. © 2015 Thorsten Overgaard.


Peter Lindbergh



<-- Back to Page 1
Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica M10   Leica Q full-frame mirrorless
Leica M10-P   Leica CL
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240   Leica TL2
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder   Leica Digilux 1
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica Sofort instant camera
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder   Leica CM 35mm film camera
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder    
Leica M lenses:   Leica SLR cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica SL and TL lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4    
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0    
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica R lenses:
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 180mm R lenses
    Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leica Cine Lenses:   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
History and overview:   Leica S:
Leica History   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica Definitions   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica S digital medium format
Leica Camera Compendium    
The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   "Magic of Light" Television Channel
    Thorsten von Overgaard YouTube Channel
Photography Knowledge   Thorsten Overgaard books and education:
Calibrating computer screen for photographers   Thorsten Overgaard Masterclasses & Workshops
Which Computer for Photographers?   Lightroom Survival Kit (Classic)
What is Copyright? Advice for Photogarphers   Lightroom Presets
Synchronizing Large Photo Archive with iPhone   Capture One Survival Kit
Quality of Light   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
Lightmeters   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance)   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
White Balance & WhiBal   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
Film in Digital Age   "Composition in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn   "A Little Book on Photography" eBook
All You Need is Love   "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
X-Rite   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
The Origin of Photography    
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner   Leica M9 Masterclass (video course)
Leica OSX folder icons   Leica M10 Masterclass (video course)
    Leica M240 Masterclass (video course)
    Leica Q Masterclass (video course)
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"Messenger" walkabout bag    
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"The Von Backup" camera backpack   "Finding the Magic of Light"
Leica Photographers:    
Jan Grarup   Riccis Valladares
Henri Cartier-Bresson   Christopher Tribble
Birgit Krippner   Martin Munkácsi
John Botte   Jose Galhoz
Douglas Herr   Milan Swolf
Vivian Maier  
Morten Albek    
Byron Prukston   Richard Avedon
The Story Behind That Picture:   Thorsten Overgaard on Instagram
More than 200 articles by Thorsten Overgaard   Join the Thorsten Overgaard Mailing List
Thorsten Overgaard Workshop Schedule   Thorsten Overgaard on Twitter
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Leica Forums and Blogs:    
Leica M10 / M240 / M246 User Forum on Facebook   Heinz Richter's Leica Barnack Berek Blog
Jono Slack   Leica Camera AG
Steve Huff Photos (reviews)   Leica Fotopark
Erwin Puts (reviews)   The Leica Pool on Flickr (blog)   Eric Kim (blog)
Luminous Landscape (reviews)   Adam Marelli (blog)
Sean Reid Review (reviews)   The Leica User Forum
Ken Rockwell (reviews)   Shoot Tokyo (blog)
John Thawley (blog)   I-Shot-It photo competition
The Von Overgaard Gallery Store:    
Hardware for Photography   Von Overgaard Ventilated lens shades:
Bespoke Camera Bags and Luxury Travel Bags   Ventilated Shade for Current 35mm Summilux FLE
Software for Photography   Ventilated Shade E46 for old Leica 35mm/1.4 lens
Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade for Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH
Mega Size Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade E43 for older 50mm Summilux
Mega Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for 35mm Summicron-M ASPH
Medium Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for older 35mm/f2 lenses
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Commisioning Thorsten Overgaard Worldwide   Ventilated Shade for Leica 28mm Summilux
Thorsten Overgaard Archive Licencing   Ventilated Shade for current 28mm Elmarit-M
Video Masterclasses   Ventilated Shade for older 28mm Elmarti-M
Photography Books by Thorsten Overgaard   Ventilated Shade E49 for 75mm Summicron
Home School Photography Extension Courses   ventilated Shade E55 for 90mm Summicron
Overgaard Workshops & Masterclasses   Ventilated Shade for 28mm Summaron
Artists Nights   Ventilated Shade for 24mm Elmarit
Gallery Store Specials   Ventilated Shade E60 for 50mm Noctilux and 75/1.4



LEItz CAmera = LEICA
Founded 1849 in Wetzlar, Germany

Leica invented the 24x36mm film format, the 35mm camera, the flash shoe, the length of a roll film (with 36 pictures; this was how far Barnack could stretch his arms), the darkroom enlarger, autofocus and more...


Photo above: A neon sign, "Headshots" in Los Angeles.



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Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25
Leica 90mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten Overgaard is a Danish feature writer and photographer who contribute stories and unique branding to magazines, newspapers and companies through exclusive and positive stories and photos. He currently photographs for WireImage, Redfern Music Photo, Getty Images and Associated Press.

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