Leica Ambassador and musician, Chris Maas, has always had an affinity towards the rugged landscapes of Scotland and its whisky heritage. Before the COVID-19 pandemic took place, Chris assembled a group of talented photographers including Cat Garcia, Ted Dwane and Marcus Haney, all united in a common interest and passion for Leica, photography, and of course, the iconic M-System. The group journeyed to Edinburgh and the surrounding area of Perthshire to discover Scotland’s oldest distillery, Glenturret.
The Leica M-System brings people together. Whether you’re shooting film or digital, landscapes or portraits, there’s a body and a lens for every type of photographer and connecting with other photographers allows you to try out new ways of shooting.
Read on to hear more from Cat and Chris about the trip and what inspired them on their journey…
What inspired you to start a photography journey?
Chris: My photography journey started with my dear friend and fellow musician Ted Dwane. We toured together for the first time in 2012. I would see him venture out of the music venues we’d play in the evening, to go explore the cities, towns and various beautiful cultures, and to take pictures in the afternoon. Eventually, I asked if I could join him. As a result, the next time we left London to go back on the road, he brought along one of his old film cameras for me to try out. That was it, I was hooked.
Cat: I remember my parents had an old 35mm camera that they loved and every time we’d go out anywhere, for any occasion, they’d always, always be sure to take it with them. The photos were just for family albums really, but that rubbed off on me and this way of documenting life and what’s important to you.
Why did you choose to visit Scotland?
Chris: I’ve always wanted to travel around Scotland. The landscapes are easily among the most beautiful in the world. When Leica UK Managing Director, Jason Heward, approached me with the idea of putting together a trip with some of my favourite photographers, I didn’t think twice about accepting his offer.
Cat: I’ve been to Scotland a few times and it’s always been interesting to visit and so beautiful to shoot there. I’d love to explore more of the country. So of course, I was excited to be given the opportunity to be part of this project, to shoot at the Glenturret distillery, and to see Perthshire for the first time.
Do you prefer shooting black-and-white photography? If so, why?
Chris: ‘Essentials’ and ‘simplicity’ are the two key words in my photography. It’s what keeps me inspired and the reason I shoot pretty much exclusively in black-and-white and with natural light. It’s why I shoot Leica M cameras and still shoot film. For this trip, I used the M10 Monochrom and M6. In a way, the absence of colour removes any potential distractions in pictures. In addition, the majority of the photographers who inspire me the most, and I keep going back to for inspiration, all shoot in black-and-white.
Cat: I do! The images that move me the most and stick with me after I’ve seen them, are always black-and-white. I think black-and-white images can be strikingly simple, graphic, beautiful, and really impactful. Working with light, shape, and texture, to create a mood, a feeling, and draw you in.
Which M cameras and lenses do you own and why do you like using the M-System?
Chris: Many years ago, I sold all the old film cameras I’d collected. With the money, I bought my first second-hand Leica M6. I’ve never looked back. It’s by far my favourite camera in the world! Today, I’m very fortunate to own several M bodies and lenses. There’s something about the heritage and simplicity of the M cameras which inspires me to take pictures every day. I never leave the house without it.
Cat: I shot these images in Scotland with the M6 and the M10-P. The size and quality of the bodies and lenses make them perfect for carrying everywhere. They bring you the joy of exploring and experiencing places, as the M cameras are small and lightweight obviously, but also stripped-back and intuitive to shoot with. Generally, I love shooting with the Summilux-M 35mm and Summilux-M 50mm lenses for environmental portraits and experimenting with composition to reveal more or less of a place, depending on what it adds to the story.
What inspired you the most on your trip?
Chris: Meeting and spending time with the amazing people who work at the Glenturret Whisky Distillery. Whilst shadowing them at work with my camera, I was completely in awe of their dedication and passion for the craft of whisky-making. Something I was hopefully able to capture in the photographs.
Cat: Glenturret is the oldest distillery in Scotland, it’s exciting to be able to shoot in a historic location and talk to the people who work there and learn about what they do. With portrait photography it’s always inspiring to meet people, to be given the opportunity to step into their world for a moment and to want to document their story in a way that feels true to them.