Editor’s Note: LHSA – The International Leica Society held its annual convention in Boston, from October 18-19, 2019. Justin Smith and Ham Hollett, two of LHSA’s newest members, share their impressions of the meeting.
Justin: I’m Justin Smith and I’ve been lucky enough to turn my childhood passion into my career. I’ve been shooting photography for a living my entire adulthood, mostly with a LEICA. About 3 years ago, my best friend Hamilton Hollett became interested in photography and I quickly noticed that he wasn’t just another millennial with a camera. He was studying the art and he was practicing out in the real world for himself, not for “likes” on social media. Seeing how serious he was, I recommended that he purchase some serious gear. Thus, here we are a year later at our second LHSA meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.
Ham: Hi. I’m Hamilton (Ham) Hollett, and I attended my first LHSA meeting back in April of 2019. It was an awesome experience. Since that time, I married my fiancé a couple of months ago, and while I wanted to attend the Boston trip, funds were tight after the wedding. Lo and behold, my wife with the help of my best friend Justin, secretly set me up with a flight and tickets to the LHSA fall meetup in Boston. I’m a lucky guy.
[ DAY ONE ]
Justin: We departed Charlotte and were greeted upon arrival in Boston with a “Bomb Cyclone” (Side note: Don’t use the term “Bomb Cyclone” in the airport). We had some time to kill before the meet and greet that night, so we did what any Leica enthusiast would do: dropped off our bags and Boston Leica store to get a peek at the cases before our peers! Upon entering the store, we were immediately greeted by the staff, Enrique and Sawyer. They showed us around and talked to us about our plans for the weekend, gave us a couple of recommendations for shooting locations, and then showed us the gallery, which was incredible. We were able to leave without purchasing anything (more on that later), and we headed to their recommended lunch spot, Parish, and ate some absolutely ridiculous sandwiches. If you are ever in Boston and are looking for a great lunch spot, this is it. After lunch and a quick walk around Beacon Hill, we attended a short meet and greet on Thursday night. Afterwards, we headed to Chinatown to grab a hot pot before turning in early. We snuck in a few shots along the way.
[ DAY TWO ]
Ham: Day 2 began with us waking up super early to be the first to hit the Leica-on-loan table where Justin snagged the new 75 Noctilux for the day. He was pretty stoked. Justin uses the 50 Noctilux regularly but this thing is a beast. I picked up a 50 Summarit, something I’ve never tried before. That lens was crazy sharp for how tiny it is. Our morning sessions consisted of talks from Adobe Instructor Bill Royce, New Jersey’s Leica Rep, Antonio Di Benedetto, and LHSA President Alan Weinschel. Bill went over how to use Adobe Camera Raw to quickly and easily edit your photos. Antonio covered some of Leica’s upcoming products and shared some of his long-exposure work. LHSA President Alan Weinschel then gave a “state of the union” regarding LHSA. We wrapped up the morning sessions and Justin began testing the 75mm. We snagged lunch with a couple of fellow LHSA members, Bill Royce, James Rice, and Keith Sbiral. The afternoon sessions began with an LHSA history lesson, and what better way to learn about the history of the LHSA than from one of its founding members, Jim Lager. Jim’s stories were inspiring, and his collection of Leica memorabilia would make any Leica nerd jealous.
Justin: After finishing up, we attended a cocktail hour at Leica Store Boston. After an internal battle, Ham pulled the trig- ger on a pretty clean Summicron 50 that was in the used case. Seeing my best friend purchasing his first Leica lens is right up there after the birth of my children, my wedding and attending my first Prince concert. Something also caught my eye, but I’ll get to that later…
[ DAY THREE ]
Justin: We began our meeting with a discussion on the photography of Ed Keating by the man himself. As someone who got their start in journalism, listening to Mr. Keating was an honor. He was followed by Sean Reid who showed us some of his images following Motorcycle Rallies. Sean’s work documented his fascination of motorcycle weekends across the country and how they illustrate the culture clash and current political climate. To close out the day, the lights went off and a Photography God appeared. Costantine Manos, a Magnum photographer, showed us a small collection of his life’s work. Absolutely stunning. He opened his presentation with the first images he took of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, 1952 and jeez, I just don’t have the words. Just do yourself a favor and click the previous link! Mr. Manos continued by showing the transition of his work from black and white into color.
If you remember a moment ago, I mentioned that something caught my eye at the Leica store. It was an M6 Classic at a hell of a price. Between Mr. Keating, Mr. Reid and Mr. Manos, my gut, my heart, my brain, all of it said pull the trigger and I did. After the class and the third Leica Store Boston purchase, we departed for the Boston Harbor. Once we were on the Harbor Cruise, I tried to concentrate on capturing images of my fellow LHSA members. I snapped a couple of images of other passengers and landscapes as well. My focus was playing with the light. I really enjoy harsh, direct light. It creates a tension and emotion that resonates with me on a personal level and I try to showcase that through my imagery.
Ham: I used the Harbor cruise as an opportunity to get familiar with my new Summicron. The upper deck was pretty busy, so I snapped a couple shots of the interior and simultane- ously managed to find the bar where a Boston Lager helped me find my sea legs. After the cruise we had an evening banquet to close out the trip. After a quick outro by our amazing host and Executive Director of the LHSA, Richard Rejino, Alan Weinschel, LHSA President, followed with his closing statement, and then the recipient of the 2019 LHSA Photography Grant Scott Brennan, showcased his ongoing project, Indigenous Autonomy and Resistance in Mexico. Scott’s work was inspiring to say the least. After Scott’s presentation, again… the lights cut and Andreas Kaufmann (the owner and chairman of Leica) closed out the meeting with a presentation of what’s ahead for the brand in the years to come.
As two of the youngest members of the LHSA, we are beyond blessed and grateful to be a part of this community and to have the support of our fellow members. Justin and I value the inspiration, the community, and the friendships we have made through this society. With all this being said, we highly recommend you looking into the LHSA. You don’t have to attend the meetings, you don’t even have to own a Leica. But what you get is access to an amazing network of passionate photographers just like you. For more information on the joining the LHSA, visit www.lhsa.org.