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I drove from Malaga to Madrid early morning with the plan to have a coffee in Madrid. On the road I saw many interesting things, this "spaghetti western landscape" amongst other sights. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten von Overgaard.
   
 
   

The Story Behind That Picture: "My Adventure in Spain"

By: Thorsten Overgaard. June 29, 2020

 

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My Adventure in Spain

Sometimes I get invited on special assignments, and that is always an opportunity to go on an adventure. A few months back I was hired to come photograph a special event in Spain for an American family.

When you travel a lot, you tend to get unimpressed with different places and you forget to appreciate these. This is something I am trying to change. I am trying to make any trip I go on into an adventure of some sort.


One of the side-effects of travel is jetlag. Here is the moon over Malaga in Spain at 3 AM. Leica M Monochrom with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
One of the side-effects of travel is jetlag. Here is the moon over Malaga in Spain at 3 AM. Leica M Monochrom with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

When in Spain, I arrived a day earlier and spent the time in a small city on a mountain top. Two days later, after the assignment, I took a five-hour drive to Madrid in the early morning ... basically to get a cup of coffee (more on that later).

You never know what happens. I plan very few things so as to leave it up to destiny, my guardian angel and pure luck what may happen and what sort of adventure might land in my lap. In planning a destination or adventure, I tend to pinpoint one interesting feature that I want to explore, usually based on a gut feeling that it could be an interesting direction.

 

Houses on the edge of a mountain. Having grown up in a completely flat country without mountains, this seemed daring adventure, as close as I can get to be Agent 007 in a movie. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Houses on the edge of a mountain. Having grown up in a completely flat country without mountains, this seemed daring adventure, as close as I can get to be Agent 007 in a movie. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

First, a mountain

I visited the city on the mountain top the day before the assignment (because I wanted to make sure to sleep through my jet lag, and) because it looked interesting ... I could get a room right on the mountain’s edge so that in the unlikely event I fell out of the window, I would drop 300 feet straight down to the bottom of the valley. A location like that is just too good to pass up when you’re born in a country with no mountains.

 

Siesta time in Spain. The hot time of the day when we go inside and take a nap and the city goes quiet for a while. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Siesta time in Spain. The hot time of the day when we go inside and take a nap and the city goes quiet for a while. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

The place turned out to have a great atmosphere; nice local people to speak to, a good restaurant with a magnificent view, and beautiful light throughout the narrow streets. In this case my gut feeling was right. There would be adventure – something unexpected – to experience.

 

Breakfast with a view. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Breakfast with a view. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Locals engaged in a talk about what happened in life today, I guess. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Locals engaged in a talk about what happened in life today, I guess. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

I need a good coffee

When I went to Madrid, I had a small coffee place in mind, and a specific building that I wanted to see. So, I tapped the coffee shop into the GPS and headed to Madrid with not much of an idea about what else would happen - besides having a coffee and seeing the building that I wanted to see.

 

Spain. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Spain. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

On the road to Madrid I saw several interesting landscapes and stopped to photograph things. There was more to stop and photograph and see than I had time to do, so I had to prioritize. I had decided to drive as early as 4:00am so as to catch the sunrise light during the trip, to avoid traffic and to arrive in time for lunch.

It’s all a planned lifestyle: the light, the feeling of driving fast, the arrival point, having coffee on a bench outside while watching people and generally pretending to have all the time in the world. Then a nice lunch with a view. It’s not about transportation, it’s how to get there in style and make it an experience. Possibly a moment to rememeber, you never know.

 

Leica M Monochrom with Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica M Monochrom with Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

The road is the goal (*)

The law of coincidence is that if you find a cool looking coffee place, chances are high that the whole neighborhood is cool and interesting. That’s how it works. Whatever you get attracted to, something around and about it will be worth it.

 

It’s not that it takes a lot

I’ve learned from life and photography that the memorable moments are seldom the planned ones, nor the most expensive ones. A front-row ticket in the opera is not a guarantee it will be a memorable night. It often happens that the drive to the opera house turns out to be a memorable moment because it rains, the driver is a character or something else unexpected happens.

 


Unexpected drama in the relationship. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.


Likewise, when I am asked to do special assignments, there is usually an unspoken expectancy that certain things will be photographed. But the reality of it is that there are often unexpected and unplanned things which are what both you and the client cherish in the end.

It’s not about documenting everything, it’s about capturing the unique moments which sum up a good life.

 


Mother and son in the shade. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.


When I was asked to come to Malaga in Spain to photograph for some hours, I was unsure if the client would get what he paid for. He answered, “Whether there are 2, 5 or 25 good images capturing the event, I'll be thrilled. Contracting Thorsten is a once in a lifetime thing for me, something really good at the right moment.”

Besides taking the pressure off me, this is how I work and think. I know something unique will come out of it, and I also know it is impossible to predict what it will be. I ddin't expect to leave the client with no valuable photos and all he got was to meet me. But I needed to know what he expected.

 

One of my favorite pictures because it is timeless, but also because it will be special for the girl in the photo, one day in the future when she stumbles over it again. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M AASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
One of my favorite pictures because it is timeless, but also because it will be special for the girl in the photo, one day in the future when she stumbles over it again. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M AAPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

You go to India to photograph the prime minister, but it’s a photo of a boy on a bicycle that makes the trip worth it and becomes a photo you are proud of the rest of your life. You may never know beforehand what it will be exactly, but you know it will happen.

For example, when I went to Madrid to have a coffee, the photo of an older couple walking the streets was the photograph that made the trip worth it. I was under-impressed with Madrid, it was unbearable hot, and I didn't do much there. In fact, instead of continuing to Barcelona and Paris as I had an idea of doing, I decided to buy a flight ticket out of Spain with four hours warning.

 

It wasn't much I did in Madrid, but it was enough. This lovely couple on the streets of Mardrid is the one photo that made it worth my time. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard. It wasn't much I did in Madrid, but it was enough. This lovely couple on the streets of Mardrid is the one photo that made it worth my time. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Had I not gone to photograph in Malaga in the first place, I wouldn’t have ended up in Madrid at that moment. Complicated logics to predict, like time travel, but simple to experience in real life.

 

An unique villa in Spain, built over 30+ years by a man and his family. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
An unique villa in Spain, built over 30+ years by a man and his family. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Get out the door

I also do portraits and reportages for a few magazines that want my specific style and handling of people, and those also bring me to fun places where I end up meeting interesting people.

I generally don’t photograph for news agencies anymore. I used to do this for the Associated Press and Getty Images, but I pulled my archive from them some years back when they started selling my pictures for “micro stock” prices. But what I did like about doing assignments for news media was the access to unique places at historic times, and the chances that something unexpected usually also happened. The photos I have from those assignments, those that I really treasure, are mainly the ones I took because I saw a photo on the sidelines, rather than the ones they sent me to take.

The trip to Malaga in Spain was a good trip, for the client, for the people I photographed there, and for me.

Sometimes it’s just a good idea to get out the door.

 

Flamenco is a style of Spanish music, played on the guitar and accompanied by singing and dancing. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Flamenco is a style of Spanish music, played on the guitar and accompanied by singing and dancing. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

     
 

The Road is the Goal*

“The Road is the Goal” is a quote I like from Japanese writer Haruki Murakami from his book, What I Am Talking About When I Am Talking About Running. In this title he writes about just getting out and running, as opposed to setting steeper and steeper goals that might wear you out and make it hard: The goal is to get out and run, then the speed and length will improve later.

But also Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj talks about “The road is the Goal” when he says, “Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

 
     

 

Accidential family photo. This family had a moment where they sat on the stairs and relaxed, and I got it in the same moment. You never know what it will be, but this one worked, I think. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm NoctiluxM ASPH f/0.95
Accidential family photo. Mom, dad and daughter had a moment where they sat on the stairs and relaxed, and I got it in the same moment. You never know what will happen and what it will be in terms of photographs, but this one worked, I think. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm NoctiluxM ASPH f/0.95

 

The everyday reportage

The story in Spain was personal, and I got to be part of it. In my Portrait Book I talk about "the reportage portrait", which is sort of daily life in the office or home, or on tour, or the family trip to London. I follow the person, the group or the family as a fly on the wall, and when something cool happens, I photoraph it. As such, it's sort of glorified moments of everyday moments. Or rather, as time goes by, the good moments we had, become glorified when they exist as photographs.

I also have talked about how I like to do iconic photographs of the early times of a great career of an actor or musician. While they may not be a big name yet, I photograph them so the image will fit the glorious look, when one day in the future, we look back in time. Truth be told, that's how I photoraph anybody. I try to make a moment that you will be proud of. A person, or a family living life in a villa somewhere, or flying somewhere, or a moment of celebration.

Children will look different in just a few months, so any photograph you make of them, will be unique and could only have been done at that time. Strangely enough, when you look back at photographs of people when they were younger, it all makes sense: They are the person they were meant to be.

 

A kid playing computer games. In the future they will look back and recognize the typical movements of this person, and how she was into this computer game that was played like this, back then. One day, playing games like this will be as old-fashioned as clipping paper silhouettes, as they did 100 years ago.
A kid playing computer games. In the future they will look back and recognize the typical movements of this person, and how she was into this computer game that was played like this, back then. One day, playing games like this will be as old-fashioned as clipping paper silhouettes, as they did 100 years ago.

 

I like the everyday moment more than the staged moment: I like the kid playing computer games without knowing there is photographer behind her, more than the glorious wedding that was planned to be the day to remember. The unseen moment that is captured forever, that is the gold in life.

While the family that commissioned me to come to Spain had a specific event in mind, what I made was also the small moments outside the event.

 

Flamenco in the sunset hour in a villa in Spain. Leica M Monochrom with Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Flamenco in the sunset hour in a villa in Spain. Leica M Monochrom with Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

More to come ...

I hope you enjoyed today's Story Behind That Picture. As always feel free to email me with ideas, questions, suggestion.

 

 

Marriage on holiday in Malaga, Spain. The beach outside my hotel when I stayed in Malaga for one night. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Marriage on holiday in Malaga, Spain. The beach outside my hotel when I stayed in Malaga for one night. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

 

 

 

         
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Thorsten von Overgaard   I like simple things

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Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
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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 R lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
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Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 180mm R lenses
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Above: I drove from Malaga to Madrid early morning with the plan to have a coffee in Madrid. On the road I saw many interesting things, this "spaghetti western landscape" amongst other sights. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten von Overgaard.

 

 

 

Photo: Thorsten Overgaard by Ray Kachatorian
Photo: Ray Kachatorian

Thorsten Overgaard is a Danish born photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing for magazines and teaching workshops which cater to Leica enthusiasts. You can follow him at his television channel www.magicoflight.tv

 

 



 


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"The Freedom of Photographic Expression"   "Composition in Photography - The Photographer as Storyteller"
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Preorder:
Leica Q2
Know-All eBook
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The Portrait Book
How to Make People Beautifu
Aoril 5, 2020:   Add to Cart
     
Extension Courses
     
The New Photography Extension Course"   "New Inspiration Extension Course"
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"Lightroom Survival Kit 7"
Lightroom
Survival Kit
  "Capture One Pro Survival Kit"
Capture One Survival Kit
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Video classes
     


Leica Q2
Masterclass

  Street Photo
Masterclass

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"Leica TL2 Quick-Start Video Course"   "Leica Q Video Masterclass"
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"Leica M10 Video Masterclass"   "Leica M 240 Video Masterclass"
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Lightroom Presets
     
Lightroom Presets Leica M10   Lightroom Presets Leica M9
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Lightroom Presets Leica TL2   Lightroom Presets Leica Q
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Lightroom Dutch Painters Presets by Thorsten Overgaard   Leica Presets for Lightroom by Thorsten Overgaard
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"Hollywood Film Presets"
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Hemingway Presets for Lightroom by Thorsten Overgaard
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201 Lightroom Presets
+ 4 Export Presets
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Capture One Styles:
     
    Leica Styles for Capture One by Thorsten Overgaard
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17 Capture One Styles
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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 
           
  · © Copyright 1996-2020 · Thorsten von Overgaard


 

© 1996 - 2020 Thorsten von Overgaard. All rights reserved.

 

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