The new Leica Q-P sees a redesign of the classic Leica Q, doing away with the iconic red dot and applying a matte black, high-resistance paint to make a true statement of understatement. Since its launch in 2015, the Leica Q has established itself as an outstanding full-frame, compact camera for all occasions and types of photography. German photographer Philipp Reinhard took the new Leica Q-P and put its versatility to the test. He created the following series combining a street photography process with a focus on architectural forms and compositions.
When did you first start shooting with Leica? And what does the brand mean to you?
I remember the day I got my first analogue Leica CL, which was about four and half years ago. Ever since that day, I have carried the tiny CL with me almost every time I’ve been on the road. It doesn’t matter what the job is or if I’m on vacation, I always try to shoot some analogue photos.
Leica is far more to than just a camera company. It’s a big part of my photography and has influenced me a lot. For me, Leica represents a large collective of the most impressive photographers from the past and present.
You’re known for working as the photographer for the German national football team. How does the Leica Q suit a job like that?
To cut a long story shot, it’s pretty perfect! Even when I’m not with the national team, I carry my Q with me pretty much all the time. It’s small, inconspicuous and quiet. The 28mm lens is perfect for the reportage style I like to shoot. Most of the photos I take are framed intuitively, without even looking through the viewfinder. This is because I need to react quickly and select my perspective intuitively, so I can shoot very fast and without being noticed. It’s also because the majority of moments I want to capture are unpredictable.
Honestly, the Q is my “always-have-it-with-me camera” and it’s perfect for travelling, just like when I’m on the road with the German national football team.
You’ve been shooting with the Leica Q for a while now. How do you think shooting with the Leica Q-P compares/differs?
It’s been a while now but I’m still excited to shoot with it. I think that a Leica Q never felt better in your hands, than the Q-P does. The matte black coating has an extremely natural feel and great grip. While the decision to remove the red dot makes it even more invisible in your surroundings. The Leica Q-P has a very purist, beautiful design.
Your series of photos have a strong focus on architectural forms and shapes, but there’s also a humorous touch to a lot of the images. How did you go about capturing this series? Where did you shoot?
The idea was to connect two totally different things together – architecture and street photography. It may sound at first as if, they belong together, somehow. But at the point of equality, things change completely. It was an interesting brief for me because people and their stories are the main reason for me to shoot.
In the beginning I called a talented architect and friend of mine from Berlin, Achim. I wanted to understand his passion for architecture. Therefore I dived a little bit deeper to understand his eye for lines, materials, scale and light. Things that would normally not play such a big role in my work. I decided to travel to London for modern architecture, whereas I visited Leipzig for a mix of modern and classic buildings. I made a stop in Kyiv because I loved those 50s soviet buildings, which look totally unreal for me.
The next step was something unusual for me. I did a lot of research, talking to local people and collecting as much information as I could. Normally I just start shooting and the action happens around me. But here there wasn’t enough time to wait. I was also looking for some special examples of architecture, which you couldn’t just find on every corner.
There certainly are similarities between shooting both architecture and street photography. The search for interesting perspectives is just one of them. How would you describe the process? Did you work with the electronic viewfinder to lock in your compositions while shooting with the Leica Q-P?
Usually I don’t spend very long searching for interesting perspectives, because I think situations themselves are more important. For me it tends to work best, if I’m just part of a situation and act totally intuitively. This time however, I wanted the best out of these two worlds.
After shooting for a while I felt a creative block, there was no flow and I was stuck. So I simply went back to shooting intuitively, without looking for the most interesting compositions and having to wait for 3 hours for each shot.
Most of the photos were framed through the electronic viewfinder. Ever since I began using the Leica Q for the first time, I have fallen in love with the super sharp electronic viewfinder. This is something that has improved the process of shooting for me and I have a higher hit-rate, getting a proper picture straight out of the camera.
You also shoot sports photography, where the autofocus of your chosen camera is key to capturing the point of action. How would you rate the autofocus of the Leica Q-P?
It’s probably the fastest autofocus I have ever shot with and also the most reliable one. Even though I shot mostly from the hip, the focus is almost always on point. And, to be honest, I’m probably the reason that a few pictures are out of focus!
Your series was shot in a wide range of light conditions. How did the ISO settings respond to the differing conditions?
I love that the grain never looks digital. That’s a key reason why it’s absolutely no problem to push the Leica Q-P up to ISO 12,500. Even though I always add some film grain to my photos in post, just for the look and feel. Some of the pictures in this series are shoot at ISO 12,500 and I’m pretty sure, you won’t be able to point them out.
What are you working on at the moment? And what can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
There’s quite a lot going on at the moment. I recently released my second photo book about the last season of our basketball team, which documented our rise to the first league. As a part of the squad, it gets emotional for me, whenever I flick through the book.
Over the past four months I also had an exhibition about Cuba and how contradictory different sides to the country are. This Leica Q-P project was something very special for me as well and I’m really looking forward for the next European championships with the German nation football team.