Leica: tool or bauble?

Henri Cartier-Bresson and Hermès. They’re both French and both identifiable to a certain segment of the population.

Cartier-Bresson was one of the greatest photographers of all time. Hermès is the luxury clothier and one of the original lifestyle brands.

They both intersect with Leica cameras in very different ways. Cartier-Bresson’s association is his creation of iconic work with a Leica camera, paid for with his own money. The Hermès association is the application of some fabric and packaging.

Cartier-Bresson’s memorable work is extremely valuable today. His works are so expensive that only museums and and people with astounding wealth can afford to buy an original print. Ironically those are the same people who can also afford the Hermès edition Leica camera.

There is a distinct irony that a storied and useful tool that is the Leica is simply too expensive for most pro photographers especially documentarians like Cartier-Bresson. Even artists like me who don’t follow buttoned-up accounting procedures and often buy equipment based on emotion simply can’t justify the cost to use the camera for paying work.

About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer specializing in creating environmental on-location portraits and corporate photo libraries for blue chip companies.