Nigel Atherton is the Editor at Amateur Photographer, the world’s oldest consumer weekly photographic magazine, first published in October 1884. Recently, Nigel put together a tribute to Leica Camera issue of the magazine to help celebrate 100 years of Leica Camera.
Below, Nigel provides insight on the special Leica centenary edition.
Q: Your July 19th edition “100 Years of Leica” is very appropriate. Everyone is commemorating the beginning of World War I, and it’s nice that we are celebrating 100 years of Leica. You’ve recreated a classic Leica self-portrait. Who is behind the camera?
A: The original is a famous portrait of Dennis Stock by Andreas Feininger for Life. Our version was re-created by our Studio Manager Andrew Sydenham and Features Editor Phil Hall, as part of our regular Classics revisited series. The feature inside shows how they did it. We used the original on the cover though as it’s the one people are familiar with. It’s the perfect image to illustrate an issue dedicated to Leica.
Q: It’s a classic screw mount Leica, which is interesting too.
A: We tried a couple of different digital Leicas for the recreation, including the new Leica T, but the M9 worked best.
Q: How did you come up with the conception of this issue? There are all kinds of different elements to it. When did you decide that you wanted to a do a 100th anniversary of Leica issue?
A: Amateur Photographer is a weekly magazine, so we are always on the lookout for anniversaries. We decided fairly on in the year that we would dedicate an entire issue to Leica but we wanted to make it in a way that it could appeal to people that don’t have Leicas.
Q: Then it was a very good idea to include the article, “Decisive Moments.” The Leica has everything to do with decisive moments, but tips on street photography and how to capture these moments is something that can apply to any camera.
A: Exactly. Although anyone can do street photography the genre is especially synonymous with Leica rangefinders, so it tied in nicely.
Q: You’ve also added an exclusive interview with Mary Ellen Mark. She really talks about the specific characteristics of the Leica that enable her to do her work. She even points out a few things that are challenging about using a Leica. How did you connect with her?
A: I had a friend that alerted me to the fact that she would be doing a talk at a Leica store in Miami. I asked him to approach her about the interview.
Q: She tells it like it is. It comes across quite well in that interview.
A: The most difficult part of that interview was deciding what pictures from her expansive repertoire we should use for the feature. There were so many to choose from.
Q: From an editorial perspective, getting something like this together is a daunting process. What are some of the challenges you met?
A: The magazine has both a features section which focuses on the art of photography, and a technical section that covers the equipment. We wanted to look at Leica from both perspectives and include in it some of history of how the Leica came to impact photography as a whole. We really wanted to include some iconic images that people would be familiar with, like the Che Guevara image or Eisenstaedt’s VJ Day in Times Square. Many people don’t know that these were captured on Leica equipment, so from a sociocultural and historical perspective we felt we should include those too. We took those two basic strands and approached it from each direction. We are fortunate in having two leading Leica experts, Roger Hicks and Ivor Matanle, among our regular contributors and we were able to call on their expertise when putting the issue together.
Q: It’s a collector’s piece. This issue belongs in any Leica collection. How much in this issue did you talk about the digital M series?
A: Not a lot, to be honest, although Nick Turpin, the subject of the Decisive Moments Feature, uses an M9. Both of our features Reader Portfolios were also shot on digital M series Leicas and, of course, we did use an M9 for the Feininger recreation.
Q: I’m glad you included some of it. Did you get to go to the Leitz-Park opening?
A: I didn’t, unfortunately. Our news editor, Chris Cheesman did though, and he wrote a great feature on the event.
Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to say about this issue?
A: The only feature in the issue that isn’t about Leica was about the Fujifilm X-E2. We felt that people who can’t afford a Leica could maybe identify with this camera, which is one we feel comes pretty close to the user experience for a more affordable price.
Q: Is it only an iPad magazine?
A: No, Amateur Photographer is the world’s oldest weekly photography magazine – in fact we’re celebrating our own 130th birthday this year – but the printed magazine has limited distribution outside the UK. Most of our international readers get the digital version, which is available for both Apple and Android tablets as well as desktop PC’s via www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/digital-edition.
Q: How long is the issue available for download?
A: I think it’ll be on the App Store forever.
Q: Congratulations on a job well done.
A: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Thank you for your time, Nigel!
– Leica Internet Team
Learn more about Amateur Photographer on their website. You can download the issue for iPad in the App Store.