In October, 2018, I was selected by Leica as the ambassador for the minimalist M10-D camera.
I started shooting with Leica M cameras in 1998, first with an analogue M6 and then switching to a digital M9 in 2009 so that I could transmit images quickly. Although going digital was convenient for my workflow, I soon missed the simple feel and undistracted working style of analogue.
So when Leica contacted me a few weeks ago and presented me with a new digital M camera with no built-in screen, I was enthusiastic to try it out.
Why would anyone use a digital camera that has no built-in screen? Although it may initially seem counterintuitive, I actually find it helpful for cultivating a creative mindset.
Let me explain. The year that I switched from using an analogue to a digital camera, I noticed that the quality of my photos immediately went down. It took me a while to figure out why this was happening. Before switching to digital, while I was out photographing, I always had a feeling of uncertainty about whether or not I got the shot that I was looking for. This feeling of doubt often pushed me to stay longer in situations, attempting to get more shots. When I started using a digital camera, I would just look at the screen to see whether or not I had captured the shot I wanted. Checking on the screen, the feeling of uncertainty would usually vanish, and I would stop shooting. Soon, I came to realize that many of my favorite photographs were those that I had taken by staying longer in situations. After a while, I purposefully trained myself to try not to look at the screen on my digital camera until I had completely left a situation. Of course, when using a camera that has a screen, the temptation is always there. With the new Leica M10-D or with an old analogue camera, thankfully the temptation isn’t there at all.
The Leica M10-D also arrived a time that I’ve been thinking much more broadly about the impact of having so many screens in our lives. A few years ago, mobile devices reached a tipping point and became omnipresent in our everyday lives. What started out as a convenience has transformed into distraction and often an addiction. Exposure to too much screen time can leave us distracted from our immediate surroundings and a bit scatterbrained. These days, I am more conscientious about controlling my daily screen dosage. I cut back here-and-there when I can. (For example, I decided to switch back to taking notes only in paper notebooks and to using a paper calendar again after years of using mobile devices.) From this standpoint, the M10-D arrived with perfect timing. It helps me preserve more moments in my day that are completely free of digital distraction, and that gives me back a sense of balance.
Under analogue photography there is also a natural division of shooting time and processing / transmission time. I find that when you aren’t trying to do both at once, you can concentrate on doing each one better.
Through twenty years of experience, I’ve learned which creative approach has lead to the best photographs in my career. First, I find it extremely important to practice nearly daily. I also try to foster a mindset of observation, concentration and listening to the aforementioned feeling of uncertainty that pushes me to stay longer in situations.
When Leica presented me the M10-D, I decided I’d test it first in Paris. Since I first moved to France, I’ve loved exploring the rooftops of the city, searching for new viewpoints, textures and capturing the unique Parisian light. My friends with access to their roofs generously allowed me to explore above their homes, and a team from Leica lead by Marco Casino interviewed and filmed me exploring with the new camera. Below are a few images that I’ve taken from the rooftops of Paris over the years.