If there were ever a perfect convergence of photography, inspiration and camaraderie, the LHSA Annual Meeting in Chicago this past October 6th & 7th was the place to be. The year’s meeting marked the beginning of LHSA’s Jubilee Year – our 50th anniversary. Those who attended were treated to memorable and educational experiences with fellow Leica shooters. Attendance broke recent records with over 100 members, speakers and special guests gathering to take part in the special festivities.
The first of two event-packed days began on Friday morning when 55 eager and camera-ready Leica shooters boarded a riverboat for an architectural tour of the Chicago River. Unfortunately, low hanging clouds covered much of the skyline, but that did not deter creative eyes from the opportunity of making dramatic images of the magnificent structures that lined the river in all directions. It was fitting beginning to the weekend.
After lunch, President Gary Hough officially welcomed everyone to the annual meeting. In his inimitable style, Gary spoke passionately about the state of the Society with an eye toward recent accomplishments and future challenges. He recognized the Society’s pivotal point in its history and asked its members to join him in supporting the Society with their time and talents. “Overcoming the financial and generational challenges depend on thinking creatively to solve the challenges that face us,” he said.
The afternoon was scheduled with educational sessions, beginning with Bill Royce’s presentation on making great monochromes using Silver Efex Pro II, which was filled with practical tips and real-time demonstrations. Next, William Fagan, international traveler, photographer, and frequent contributor to Viewfinder, who traveled all the way from Ireland to be with us, presented his recent photographs from Greece and Syria.
Rebecca Memoli gave a highly informative session on the process of editing photographs and telling a story through them. Hers was followed by an equally informative and much-anticipated planning session for the 2018 meeting in Wetzlar, Germany. Alan Weinschel, LHSA VP, led the discussion and outlined a tentative schedule, which includes a tour of the Leica factory, meetings with Leica AG executives, educational sessions and day trips. Judging by the response, interest, and excitement remains high among the members, and many are looking forward to Wetzlar next year.
Next, Doug Drumheller presented the culmination of his two-year project: an English translation of Ulf Richter’s book, Oskar Barnack: From the Idea to the Leica, translated by LHSA founder, Rolf Fricke. Doug recognized Rolf and his team’s work and presented him with the first limited edition of the book.
Rounding out the day, Jim Lager, LHSA historian, presented his session on Leica Miscellanea, taking us through the annals of Leica advertising and other paraphernalia. Members ended the day with a visit to the Rangefinder Gallery at Tamarkin Camera and the opening of an exhibit of photographs by Luis Ripoll.
The second day of the meeting was filled with a collection of inspirational sessions. After a morning bus tour of Chicago featuring a drive down Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue, and seeing Water Tower Place, Lincoln Park, Wrigley Field and other iconic sites, members attended the annual Trade Fair. Twelve exhibitors, representing Leica Store San Francisco, Koh’s Camera, Tamarkin Camera, Igor’s Camera Exchange, and Westborn Camera, as well as several individuals, laid out their wares for selling, trading and showing off their favorite Leica gear.
Kicking off the afternoon, featured speaker and Magnum Photographer, Constantine Manos presented an inspiring retrospective of his life’s work and featured many of his iconic images. His session was followed by Chicago photographer, Nicholas Pinto, who presented Photographer as Artist, a look at the moments that guided him in his journey from photographer to artist, and the Fall Photo Contest, in which he served as judge, provided insightful analyses of the entries, and announced the winners of the contest. LHSA was proud to have Stefan Daniel of Leica AG as its keynote speaker. Stefan, the head of Leica’s worldwide camera business, presented A Decade of Digital M Photography and provided anecdotal stories along the evolution of Leica’s flagship camera. The end of the session was marked with the surprise announcement of LHSA’s Commemorative Summicon 50mm APO lens. Stefan and Bill Rosauer revealed two prototypes of the lens that will be available late 2017 or 2018.
The 2017 LHSA Annual Meeting ended with a special banquet and awards dinner on Saturday evening. The mood was festive and attended by over 80 people. President Gary Hough thanked everyone for attending the meeting and voiced his appreciation to the many volunteers who helped make the event possible.
Among the announcements and awards that were given, Jim Lager presented a heart-warming tribute to special guest, past president, and LHSA founder, Rolf Fricke. Rolf beamed with gratitude and was surrounded by his family who also celebrated his contributions to the Society.
Bill Rosauer, long-time LHSA member, past president and Viewfinder editor, was presented with the President Emeritus award and title for his long dedication and service to LHSA. The climax of the evening was the announcement of LHSA’s first ever $5000 Photography Grant award recipient. The grant went to Russian-born Ksenia Kuleshova who lives in Germany and is pursuing her master’s degree in photography. Ksenia pre-recorded a heart-warming video thanking LHSA for this prestigious award.
Not one to miss an opportunity to raise money for the LHSA Philanthropy Fund, Tom Smith of Leica Akademie USA, served as an auctioneer of several donated items. Tom puts the “fun” in Fundraiser, and with his humor and theatrics was able to raise over $1600 toward next year’s grant award.
After the banquet, everyone migrated to the hotel bar where members stayed well into the night revisiting the past two days and catching up with friends. The good news is that the celebration of LHSA’s Jubilee Year doesn’t end in Chicago. It will continue throughout the year. I hope you will join us next in 2018, when we are all in Wetzlar, Germany.