Eyes Wide Open! 100 Years of Leica Photography Book Review

It is time for inspiration to get out and take some photos. I want to recommend a book, Eye’s Wide Open! 100 Years of Leica Photography. I got this about 5 years ago and to me, it has been the best central place for all things about Leica’s history, the history of Leica’s cameras, but more so about Leica cameras being used to create some of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century.

It came out to mark a milestone birthday of the legendary compact camera invented by Leica, and foffers a wide artistic and cultural history of the Leica from the 1920s to today.

There are over 1,000 iconic street photos/journalism photographs in this book from around 200 different Leica photographers in Europe, Asia, America and more locations. All of them excellent and inspiring and they make you want to get out there and take photos and try and be like some of these talented people. .

  • Author : Hans-Michael Koetzle, a Munich-based freelance author and journalist, focusing mainly on history and the aesthetics of photography.
  • ISBN-10 : 386828530X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-3868285307

I bought this book shortly after I was getting into Leica cameras in June 2015, and it has probably sat in a box unread for a while. I’m not too sure why I ended up buying it. But I am glad I did now I have bothered to take it out and read it properly. It is a hardcover, huge, which is great for the photos and the print quality is suburb.

Eye’s Wide Open! 100 Years of Leica Photography takes you right through the changes Leica made forever to the photography with the 35mm format in the 20th century.

Koetzle covers everything in this beautifully designed publication, from the idea of a portable camera by Oskar Barnack, to the history of the company, how Leica cameras were adopted by journalists, how the company responded during the second world war, the street photographs of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s on both colour and black and white film, and well as a database of the Leica 35mm cameras themselves.

This book really does cover in a detailed but easy to understand form the technical genesis of the Leica, its influence on photojournalism, and its significance for a wide variety of avant-garde currents in art photography. But, there are also a lot of previously unpublished documents from the archives of the Leica Camera AG. So you see some fairly unique historical documents (I won’t spoil that bit for you, but it is worth it.)

For me though, the best part is that if I am feeling uninspired all I need to do is open it up anywhere, see a new idea, a new technique or a new style of working with natural light and I feel like I want to go and try it out. Eye’s Wide Open! 100 Years of Leica Photography makes me want to pickup my Leica M and go out to take photos. It inspires me.

You can get this book for about $80-$120 depending on where you look. If you are a Leica user, or a street photography enthusiast, or a history buff I say buy it, you won’t regret it.

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