25 May 2007


One of the sources of inspiration for my photography from my teenage years onwards, were books on photography. There are some photographers, who's work impressed me and influenced me in the way that I look on photographs and on how I take pictures myself. I grew up in Germany, more exactly in Aachen a small town close to the Belgian and Dutch border. My hometown as small as it is had some moments of importance in the European history and sees itself today more as an European than a German city. Anyway, I grew up in this context and got exposed, especially in our local library to some books of great photographers.

One of the photographers, I got exposure to, was Henri Cartier-Bresson. He is the man, who coined the expression of the decisive moment, the moment where a photo starts telling a story. If you hit this moment in your photograph, you are close to a good picture. He himself avoided to be photographed as his work was well known. He did not want to be identified as Mr Cartier-Bresson, who takes these great pictures. Most of the time he worked with a Leica M camera with a 50mm lens attached. His skill was the compostion within that frame. The M camera allowed him to take pictures in situations, where a SLR camera would make the picture impossible altogether. Have a look at some of his work. It is worthwhile. One of the books, I received from some photo friends and one of my teachers is called in English: America in Passing. The book is currently out of print. If you find it a second hand book, it is a worthwhile investment into your learning. Here is a general link to some books by/ about, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Alfred Eisenstaedt grew up in Germany in the beginning of the 20th century and immigrated to
as Jewish refugee to America. It is there that his career took off. He was one of the key photographers of Life Magazine and - I hope my memory serves me right here - was the photographer at Life with the largest number of title shots for Life Magazine. Probably, his most famous picture is the Kiss on Times Square on V.J. Day. Eisenstaedt presented himself as a very modest person and charmed with his humor. A lot of his images represent his skill to see the fun and joy between the lines. After watching a documentary about him (more than 15 years ago), I just loved his photography. Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt is one of my favourite books in my bookshelves.

Both photographers used as their main tool the Leica M system. The advantage of the system is the very small design and quiet operation paired with amazing interchangable lenses. It is a luxury, you have to pay for. Last year, Leica presented the first digital M camera after sticking to old concept for too long. Personally, I don't own a Leica M camera, though I wouldn't mind working with it. I like the concept and solid construction, but get far more versatility out of my current Nikon equipment, which I wouldn't call inferior. :-)

I will present some more photographers during the next few weeks.

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