The Leica M9 and Wedding Photography
Leica has long been known as the weapon of choice for street/documentary photographers. And rightfully so. The size and unobtrusiveness of the Leica M, combined with those superb little lenses, makes it the perfect tool in hand for this type of photography. There's something about the Leica that just causes people to let you in—precisely my goal when shooting on the streets, or in a village somewhere. My goal is simply to be allowed the opportunity to exist within the space of my subjects—and not be an outsider.
And with my wedding work too, the philosophy remains exactly the same. My goal is to be let into the space of the wedding day, and be allowed just to react to the day as it unfolds. However, the traditional fast autofocus SLR has been the main choice for wedding photographers. And of course, in some respects the SLR is perfect for wedding work. Fast and robust. But although there are many strengths to the modern SLR, unobtrusiveness is certainly not one of them. And while being unobtrusive is, in large part, dependant on the photographer, with SLR's one is limited in this regard. The fact is that the moment you lift that big SLR to your eye, people in the room take note.
And so, in 2010 I decided to introduce the Leica M9 into my wedding work. And it truly was a match made in heaven for me. People let me in! Immediately! I'd raise the camera to my eye, and for the most part nobody could care less. It was wonderful. I really cannot praise the unobtrusiveness of the Leica M9 enough. And in addition to its unobtrusiveness, there is also that wonderfully detailed sensor and those incredible little lenses. And the end result? Images with an incredible crispness and quality to them. Plus, there is the luxury of shooting the Leica lenses wide open, without any concern. Just pure optical beauty. For my wedding work, the Leica M9 has really been wonderful.
The way shooting with a rangefinder makes me see is just wonderful. Composition, lines, and moment become my main concerns. It forces me to look harder, and then to wait for that "decisive moment"—something that I find often gets lost in the high-paced frenzy that is SLR shooting. The fact that I cannot see focus happening with the Leica M9 is perfectly fine with me. No distraction. What's actually happening within the frame is what truly matters, and the Leica leaves me with only that.
Don't get me wrong, this is not written in critique of SLR's. I still shoot my Nikons, and I love them. And there are things I can do with the Nikons that the Leica simply can't touch. Rather, this is about the right tool for the right job. And for me the Leica M9 is that tool.