It’s been almost two months since the grand opening of the new Leica Camera HQ in Wetzlar, and I wanted to take a moment and reflect on it. The opening was an extraordinary event, and I was honored to be a part of it.
Last summer I was asked by Leica, along with nine other photographers from around the world, to be a part of the “10×10” exhibition that would be unveiled at the 100th anniversary celebration of Leica Photography and grand opening of Leitz Park, the new Leica facilities.
The other photographers were, from left, Magnum Photos member Dominic Nahr, Italian fashion photographer Amedeo M. Turello, German photographer Julia Baier, Russian Oskar Barnack award winner Evgenia Arbugaeva, me, Ukrainian photographer Kirill Golovchenko, Icelandic photographer Saga Sig, and Chinese Oskar Barnack Newcomer award winner Jing Huang. Not pictured are Magnum Photos member Alec Soth and German photographer Thomas Ruff. These photographers have an enormous number of awards, grants and publications between them.
We were paired with iconic photographers and asked to produce 10 projects consisting of 10 images each (10×10) for a total of 100 images celebrating the 100 years of Leica Photography.
The photographic icons we were paired with were referred to as our “artistic fathers.” We were asked to shoot our projects with our particular icon in mind. I was paired with the legendary Elliott Erwitt, who wrote the foreword for my first book, UNPOSED. When Elliott and I were interviewed in front of my images, the questioner asked, “Elliott, how did it feel to discover Craig was your son?” Elliott said, “I guess he’s one of the ones I didn’t know about.”
Photo by Daniel Flaschar
I chose to do my project in India, and my 10×10 contribution became the foundation for my new book INDIA UNPOSED.
Leica Hall of Fame inductee Nick Ut was there for the festivities as well. Nick won the pulitzer prize for his iconic shot of the young girl running covered with napalm in Vietnam. Nick is not one to rest on his laurels—he was covering the event for the AP. He is the eye of the storm as new Leica products are revealed.
I doubt the guy behind Nick realizes he’s resting his camera phone on a Pulitzer Prize winner’s forehead.
Nick zeroes in on Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Leica Supervisory Board AG, who’s shooting with the new Leica T. Notice the man in the background with the sunglasses in his hair…
…he’s Italian journalist Alessio Jacona shooting Nick shooting Dr. Kaufmann shooting the T while I shoot them all. It’s all very confusing.
One of the biggest highlights of the event for me, and I’m sure for the other photographers as well, was when Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Managing Director of Leica Galleries International, presented us each with a Leica M240 and 35mm Summicron with our names engraved on them. We were all a little dumbstruck.
Photo by Maksim Shdan
The big party Friday night was held in the 5000 capacity Rittal Arena in Wetzlar.
Dr. Kaufmann welcomed the crowd and told the story of Oskar Barnack, creator of the first Leica Camera.
Soon after Karin Rehn-Kaufmann took the stage. She explained the 10×10 project, and called us up.
I tried out the new M240 from the stage.
Then Nick came on stage and presented Dr. Kaufmann with a resolution from the Los Angeles City council, which said, in part: “…on behalf of the City of Los Angeles, we hereby salute LEICA on 100 years of Leica photography…Their astonishing innovations and technical masterpieces have changed the face of photography, and with that, art, culture, and news all around the world.” Well done, Los Angeles!
And then the real party began.
I had a spectacular time in Wetzlar. It was an honor to be asked to be a part of the 10×10 exhibit with 9 extremely talented photographers, and humbling to be included in Leica Camera’s historic centennial celebration. But what was truly special was the feeling of being a part of something bigger. Leitz Park has a museum, and on a beautiful glass wall in the museum hangs 100 iconic Leica photographs from the last hundred years. The wall is an overwhelming reminder of the power of still photography. There was a photojournalist there who was moved to tears as he gazed at the prints. Standing alone for a few minutes in front of that wall, I found myself in the same state.
Photo by James Agnew