Images by Kirstin Vignes
As one of the youngest members of LHSA, I don’t have a great deal of society meet ups under my belt, but I’ve attended enough to know that the recent Spring Shoot in Asheville, NC was different. Over the last few years, our board, under the leadership of past president Gary Hough and current president Alan Weinschel, have made great strides in growing our membership and ushering in a new era of Leica enthusiasts. For this spring shoot, it was clear their hard work has paid off. New faces brought a new energy and a love for all things Leica ran deep.
The first day in Asheville commenced at the Biltmore Estate, a historic house museum that once served as a summer getaway for the Vanderbilt family. The opulent Gilded Age mansion provided not only a photographic backdrop, but also a stage for members to catch up and get acquainted with one another. A constant hum of camera shutters and Leica talk was heard as we meandered through the Biltmore’s decadent rooms and vast halls. Outside, the gardens were alive with song and bloom. Spring was ever present and the change it brought reflected our society’s forward progress.
The second half of the day proved equally as exciting. Guest speaker, David Spielman, gave a lecture on staying photographically inspired and avoiding clichés before breaking us into groups and sending us out on assignment. I was lucky to have Jon Kidder in my group who was an Asheville frequenter and knew the city well. We wandered past record shops and street performers, through bookstores and a community garden. Asheville, although small, left nothing to be desired when it came to street photography. This sentiment only grew as day shifted into night, and the city really started to wake up. Live jazz drifted from speak easies, buskers serenaded passersby, and the beating of drums echoed from Pritchard Park. Asheville’s night scene allowed us to push ourselves and our ISO’s to capture the rhythm and atmosphere of the city.
John Kral opened the second day with a keynote on his career in photojournalism. As a local to South Florida, Kral’s work particularly resonated with me. In his years with the Miami Herald, he captured moments and subcultures rarely documented in the Sunshine State. Both Spielman and Kral have published books on their work and gave us insight into the importance of personal projects.
After a photo walk with John Kral and lunch, board member David Knoble educated the group on using the Leica FOTOS mobile app. With the rate at which technology changes these days, even the savviest of society members appreciated this session. As the graphic designer of Viewfinder, I’ve had the honor of laying out several of Knoble’s articles but had never actually met him. One of the most rewarding parts of society meet ups is getting to meet people in person and putting a face to a name.
Of course, like every society meet up, the highlight of the weekend was the closing banquet. Tom Smith of Leica Akademie and our Executive Director Richard Rejino duetted a heartfelt closing speech and pointed out the successes and progress our society has achieved. We owe a round of applause to all our appointed officers for their dedication to expanding the society and bringing in a new generation. In 2018, we celebrated LHSA’s past fifty years. In 2019, the focus has shifted and we’re looking forward to the next fifty.
Hoping to see everyone in Boston!