Continuing with my camera review series, here’s the third installment (I previously reviewed the Nikon D850 and Fujifilm X-H1), as promised. This time we’ll be looking at when and why I use the Leica M-P, a full-frame rangefinder of extraordinary character, rich history and unparalleled glass.
I find this kind of review better than a rundown of features, or even a single test shoot. In real life, a camera must earn a spot in a photographer’s arsenal by having specific kinds of shoots that it performs best at. By showing you how I shoot throughout the year with any given camera, and comparing it to the shoots I do with my other cameras, I feel you can truly get a sense of what a camera is all about.
On to the review…
January: New Year, New Themes
“Conversation with Walls.” Model Lydia Purvesware. Photo by Josh S. Rose, 2018.
Every new year, I try to rededicate myself to my true love of fine art photography with a new idea of some kind. Despite doing it as a career, I find it important to maintain a love and passion for the medium by also working on personal themes and submitting my work to gallery shows, magazines and award shows.
In 2018, I was happy to stumble onto an idea that I would continue to push and work on throughout the entire year and even incorporate into my professional work. I called the concept, Conversation with Walls.
The idea was a reflection of a culture that had become so entrenched in views as to become impervious to others’ opinions. Having actors and dancers interact with a wall as if they were trying to explain themselves to it became the ongoing theme I worked on throughout the year, and even had a show of the works in both a gallery and fine art magazine.
This, to me, is the absolute sweet spot of the Leica, and why it will always be one of my main cameras. The Leica camera system is designed with methodical, concept-driven image creation in its bones. The manual focus-only lenses require a different approach to shooting – one that, for me, forces more attention on composition and precise framing. And this works hand-in-hand with the kinds of images that I like to have hang in galleries or people’s homes. For an image to feel incredibly purposeful, I believe one must put that kind of purposeful effort into making it. The Leica is built for it and has never failed me in the many years I’ve shot with it.
February: Running into Heroes
Scott Oster, shot by Josh S. Rose, 2018.
I was walking around West Hollywood when I happened upon Scott Oster, working on a tubular skateboard ramp for an event. Scott skated professionally when I was a teenager and I watched him and his buddies rip it up in Venice and wanted nothing more than to hang in that crowd – now I live in Venice Beach and probably owe a lot of that to this guy. So, running into him and then talking him into letting me take this portrait was a kind of surreal moment for me and I really appreciated that he trusted me to do the shot without knowing me or whether I had the skills to pull it off at all.
And this is another place where the Leica comes in handy. While it’s a small and unassuming camera, the quality that comes with the brand tends to signal that you’re serious about shooting and that can help in the world of street portraits. But the bigger advantage is that it can be your everyday camera that comes with you everywhere and still manages to handle difficult lighting situations like this one, and deliver stunning results. Cuz you never know who you’re going to run into.
March: Editorial Celebrity Shoot