Meet Jose ‘Tutes’ Tutiven, an Ecuadorian-American who is getting a ton of great commercial photo work and a lot of acclaim for his abilities.
On a whim, I trekked up to Brooklyn to attend the Photoville Photo Festival in Dumbo, right under the Brooklyn Bridge. This is he sixth year running and it was held September 14 – 24, 2017. Most of Photoville consists of installations – little art shows of photos and mixed media based on photos – set inside shipping containers! The show is set a parking lot next to the Brooklyn Bridge and it is as unique an art show as I have ever seen.
As I walked through there was a tent. It said Leica on the side. I tried to scurry past with my eyes averted downward because, as any photographer knows, Leica cameras are exquisite, German-made gems that are so expensive that they are only affordable to the ‘1 Percent’, and people who don’t care if their spouses divorce them because of poor financial decision making. Best to avoid these things, I thought. I have enough feelings of inadequacy NOT having to do with my cameras, thank you.
I almost made it past. But then this guy stops me in my tracks and says one of the most evil things I have ever heard a person say. He said, “Hey, would you like to take a Leica for a test drive – for free?”
My shoulders drooped. My wallet cringed.
‘Yes,” I said. Having no defense for a free test drive of one of the best regarded cameras in creation, “Yes, I would.”
In my mind’s eye, I could see my daughter frowning at me. Now she’ll never have enough money for college.
I pressed on, determined that I would not buy the camera, even if it laid golden eggs, and when he asked which camera I would like to borrow, I made another huge tactical error and asked him to provide me with the camera that would give me the definitive Leica experience.
He said, “How about a Monochrom with a 35mm lens?”
Not knowing what I was getting into, I said, “Sure.”
At the time I had no idea why the Leica junkies around me were grinning and laughing.
The Heroin dealer at the booth handed me a fairly beefy rangefinder with a manual lens for my first taste of this particular narcotic and, after taking temporary possession of my credit card and drivers license, told me to have at it.
Tutes was just heading out with about 30 other photographers, each outfitted with one Leica-made implement of financial destruction or another, and led us around the Brooklyn waterfront, to strut our stuff. Tutes knows Brooklyn. It’s where he grew up. In about 5 blocks and about 45 minutes of shooting, we all had enough photo ops to know what our cameras were made of. And mine did lay golden eggs.
The Monochrom and the Summillux are capable of rending incredibly beautiful, contrasty images. They are very easy to autofocus, and provide fast, beautiful images. The size of the outfit was just right for the street and event photography. Not big enough to get in the way, and not so small that it wasn’t handy. I’d actually say this was the perfect size. And I was very glad that I wasn’t able to look at full sized images from this camera until after I had returned it, because I’d be on the way to a quick divorce after buying it. I’ve shot with the Fuji X100 series, and Nikon D8xx cameras and I have to say that the looks coming from this Leica were beautiful and distinctive, and I’d shoot again with one at a drop of a hat. They are indeed, all that.
So after I got a chance to look at my images, I had to look up just what I created them with. This is the rig, as provided:
A $7,500 Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Digital Rangefinder matched with a $5,000 Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH. Lens. That’s a black and white only camera and manual lens that weigh in at $12,500, retail. It’s a good thing I didn’t know this when he handed it to me because I would have handed it righ back for fear of dropping it. And then I would never have had a chance to understand why Leica fans can look both artistically satisfied and flat broke at the same time.
Thanks Tutes, for showing me the ropes with this camera. You’re just another example of why diversity works for this country, which wasn’t really the point of this post, but is the point of this blog, after all.