On October 9 and 10, 2020, the LHSA held its Annual Conference, and for the first time, the entire event was virtual, held on the Zoom conferencing platform. While this was new for us, the event was a big success, bringing in members from across the globe.
The speaker roster was the strength of the program. The conference covered topics from technology to artistic interpretation, and the support from Leica AG and Leica Camera USA was superb. The conference opened with a fascinating presentation from Peter Karbe in Germany, Leica’s “lens master” himself. He began with the earliest cameras and brought us on the journey to today’s digital marvels. The description of lens and film/sensor comparisons, including smartphones, was intriguing. It proves the adage “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Our outgoing president, Alan Weinschel, conducted his final business meeting for the group and announced the next leaders – Keith R. Sbiral as President and Brad Husick as Vice President. Alan has been an extraordinary President, growing LHSA membership to nearly double the number from when he started his executive roles. We will miss his leadership, and we’re excited to see what the new administration will bring.
Brad Husick announced the new LHSA Sustaining Member program, and by the time the conference ended, we had 50 generous supporters. We look forward to welcoming more Sustaining Members, and details of the many benefits are available on the LHSA website.
Leica landscape photographer extraordinaire and Leica Akademie instructor Philip Blair shared his deeply personal story of the role photography plays in his life and outlook. The stunning monochrome photos he shared underscored his narrative. If you could hear a pin drop in a Zoom room, this would have been the time.
It’s hard to imagine topping Philip’s presentation, but new LHSA Board Member Sandra Eisert indeed matched the challenge. Sandra is the first White House picture editor and served under three US Presidents. She has photo-edited more than 100 books and played a crucial role in creating MSNBC. com. Sandra spoke with us about finding meaning and direction in your photography, creating images with purpose. Her insights regarding what makes a photo portfolio improved all of us in the short hour of her talk.
President Keith Sbiral welcomed us to day two of the conference, which started with our friend from Leica Camera USA, Antonio Di Benedetto. He shared his insights on the new Leica M10-R camera and the effect that the new camera has on imagery. Going far beyond the specs, Antonio was able to use his images to convey the power of technology to create art.
Speaking of art, our next presenter, Richard Chalfan, gave us a unique inside look at the photographic tools that Henri Cartier-Bresson used to create his iconic images. Richard, a former Leica Store Ambassador, has assembled a nearly complete collection of 35mm Leica cameras from the earliest models to starting the digital age with the M8.
Our friend John Kreidler from Leica Camera USA then shared his perspectives on the Leica professional line’s newest members, including the SL2 and S cameras and lenses. Seeing different Leica lenses on the same camera taking the same photos gave us a view on the subtle but essential differences lens choice can make. We are all impressed by the incredible quality of the images he brought.
Wrapping up the conference, we decided to try something new, a more interactive experience. Several weeks before the conference we asked registered members to submit one to three photographs on the theme of “close to home.” Tom Smith, director of the Leica Akademie USA, joined Sandra Eisert for a fascinating review of these photos, giving their honest feedback and tips. We all learned from the experience and emerged with new perspectives on the strange year 2020 has been and how our photographs reflect our lives.
We were delighted to announce that Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen is the 2020 LHSA Photography Grant winner. She shared some of her heartbreaking photographs of life in Venezuelan prisons for women. See the website for her story and more of her incredible images.
Throughout the conference we were able to give away valuable door prizes to attendees thanks to the generosity of our sponsors XRite, Novoflex, Oberwerth, Rock N Roll Straps, and DxO. We awarded more than $4000 in prizes. We also awarded direct 1-on-1 sessions with several of our speakers, and the feedback we have received has been inspiring.
A conference this successful only happens with a lot of work behind the scenes and no one deserves more praise than our own Executive Director Richard Rejino. The entire team orchestrated a smooth, trouble-free event for all. We look forward to the time when we can gather face-to-face again, and our next Annual Conference is scheduled for October 2021 in majestic Seattle, Washington.
Brad Husick, VP