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Thorsten von Overgaard and Ken Hansen in front of Stumptown Coffee on 29th Street while the Fashion Week is closing down. Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © 2016-2017 Ed Sherman.

   
 
   

The Story Behind That Picture:
"Coffee with legendary Leica dealer Ken Hansen"

 

By: Thorsten Overgaard. January 14, 2017.

 

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To some, Ken Hansen is the greatest Leica dealer in the world. Ken Hansen runs the largest Leica dealership in the US without having a website or store.

All he's got is an e-mail address and a large fan base of Leica users who know him as the friendliest and most easy-going person in the world.

How do you become the largest Leica dealer in the US without having a website or a store? That was what I was curious about. During the New York Fashion Week in September 2016, I had the opportunity to have a coffee and get the fascinating back-story.

What I didn't know before we met was that he was born just a two-hour drive from where I come from. If Ken Hansen had been born 25 years later and a two kilometers drive north of his hometown, we could have been brothers.

But his destiny was different. His mother is Danish, from Sønderborg, and he was born in Kiel in the very Northern part of Germany bordering on Denmark.

But already by 1961 he boarded a ship to New York and got a job the same day he arrived.

His brother was in New York and insisted he had to visit a Jewish camera store on the 4th floor in Manhattan.

 

Ken Hansen on how he came to New York in 1961 and started a job in a camera store the very same day. Photo by Ed Sherman.
Ken Hansen on how he came to New York in 1961 and started a job in a camera store the very same day. Photo by Ed Sherman.

 

Ken was not that eager, he thought it could wait another day. But his brother insisted, pointed up to the 4th floor and Ken went there.

"‘You got a job if you can start right now,' they told me. So I did, and was with them for twelve years. I learned everything about cameras and the business there."

"In 1973 I decided to start for myself. I borrowed $20,000 from my family and went out and bought used equipment from every camera store I could find. I knew what would sell, so that was what I was buying."

"I placed a $350 ad in the New York Times every weekend with 10 items for sale, and by Monday they were sold out!"

"I was very blessed. It took off from the very start."

Twelve years after the beginning Ken Hansen opened a 600 square-foot office on the 10th floor, across from the Empire State Building on 34th Street.

Next year he expanded to 1,000 square feet on the 11th floor, then a little later, the whole floor of a building on 21st Street.

"It was a large photography store with really competent staff. Everybody was well paid without commissions. The business of photography wasn't an honest one, but we were. That's what made me open my own store and what worked the best about it. We tried to be straight and honest."

"Everybody came in our store. All the great photographers and everybody else."

He doesn't drop any names, so I try to check if he ever met Helmut Newton (1920-2004)?

"The last lens I sold Helmut Newton was the Leica 50mm Summilux-M f/1.4 lens (the previous version)."

Today Ken Hansen is little advertised, but very well-known. He operated his store from 79th Street. He starts the day at 5am and answers e-mails, then he run errands in town and ships stuff.

We had our coffee early outside Stumptown Coffee on 29th Street, and had a good long talk about the current status of Leica and their customer service, amidst busy people packing down the New York Fashion Week.

Should you you want to get in contact with Ken Hansen, send an e-mail to him here.

 

Ken Hansen. Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Chrome. © 2016-2017 Thorsten Overgaard.
Ken Hansen. Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Chrome. © 2016-2017 Thorsten Overgaard.

 

I hope you enjoyed this Story Behind That Picture. As always, feel free to e-mail me suggestions, idea, comments to thorsten@overgaard.dk.

 


Thorsten Overgaard
#1719-0117


   
   

 

 
 

 

 

   
   
   

 

leica.overgaard.dk
Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Leica S:
Leica M10   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica S digital medium format
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder    
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica Cine Lenses:
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder    
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder    
Leica M lenses:   Leica SLR cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica R lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 180mm R lenses
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
    Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
     
History and overview:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica History   Leica Q full-frame mirrorless
Leica Definitions   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica Digilux 1
Leica Camera Compendium   Leica X
The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   Leica Sofort instant camera
    Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
    Leica CM 35mm film camera
     
Photography Knowledge   Thorsten Overgaard books and education:
Calibrating computer screen for photographers   Thorsten Overgaard Masterclasses & Workshops
Quality of Light   Overgaard Lightroom Survival Kit for Lightroom CC/6
Lightmeters   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance)   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
White Balance & WhiBal   "Composition in Photography" eBook
Film in Digital Age   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
All You Need is Love    
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
X-Rite   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
The Origin of Photography   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
Case in Point    
The Good Stuff  
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner   "Magic of Light" Television Channel
Leica OSX folder icons   Thorsten von Overgaard YouTube Channel
   
Leica Photographers:  
Jan Grarup   Riccis Valladares
Henri Cartier-Bresson   Christopher Tribble
Birgit Krippner   Martin Munkácsi
John Botte   Jose Galhoz
 
Douglas Herr    
Vivian Maier  
Morten Albek    
Byron Prukston    
     
The Story Behind That Picture:   Thorsten Overgaard on Instagram
More than 100 articles by Thorsten Overgaard   Join the Thorsten Overgaard Mailing List
Thorsten Overgaard Workshop Schedule   Thorsten Overgaard on Twitter
    Thorsten Overgaard on Facebook
Leica Forums and Blogs:    
Leica M10 / M240 / M246 User Forum on Facebook   Heinz Richter's Leica Barnack Berek Blog
The Leica User Forum   Leica Camera AG
Steve Huff Photos (reviews)   Leica Fotopark
Erwin Puts (reviews)   The Leica Pool on Flickr
LeicaRumors.com (blog)   Eric Kim (blog)
Luminous Landscape (reviews)   Adam Marelli (blog)
Sean Reid Review (reviews)   Jono Slack
Ken Rockwell (reviews)   Shoot Tokyo (blog)
John Thawley (blog)   Ming Thein (blog)
  I-Shot-It photo competition
 
 
The Von Overgaard Gallery Store:    
Hardware for Photography   Von Overgaard Ventilated lens shades:
Software for Photography   Ventilated Shade for Current 35mm Summilux FLE
Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade for older Leica 35mm/1.4 lenses
Mega Size Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade for Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH
Mega Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade E43 for older 50mm Summilux
Medium Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for 35mm Summicron-M ASPH
Small Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for older 35mm/f2 lenses
Commisioning Thorsten Overgaard Worldwide   Ventilated Shade for 50mm Summicron lenses
Thorsten Overgaard Archive Licencing   Ventilated Shade for Leica 28mm Summilux
Vintage Prints   Ventilated Shade for current 28mm Elmarti-M
Photography Books by Thorsten Overgaard   Ventilated Shade for older 28mm Elmarti-M
Home School Photography Extension Courses   Ventilated Shade for 75mm Summicron (coming)
Overgaard Workshops & Masterclasses   ventilated Shade E55 for 90mm Summicron
Artists Nights   Ventilated Shade for 28mm Summaron
    Ventilated Shade for 24mm Elmarit
Gallery Store Specials   Ventilated ShadeE60 for 50mm Noctilux and 75/1.4
 

 

 

Above: Thorsten von Overgaard and Ken Hansen in front of Stumptown Coffee on 29th Street while the Fashion Week is closing down. Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © 2016-2017 Ed Sherman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 


Also visit:

Overgaard Photography Workshops
Von Overgaard Gallery Store
Von Overgaard Ventilated Shades
Thorsten Overgaard Books
Leica Definitions
Leica History
"Photographer For Sale"
Leica Lens Compendium
Leica Camera Compendium
Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4

Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
Leica 90mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic
Leica Digilux 2

Leica M10
Leica M9, M9-P and Leica ME
Leica M 240
Leica M 240 Video
Leica M 262
Leica M-D 262
Leica M Monochrom
Leica M 246 Monochrom

Leica SL full-frame mirrorless
Leica R9 and R8 SLR with digital back
Leica Q
Leica TL2
Leica Sofort
Leica S digital medium format
Leica X
"On The Road With von Overgaard"
Light metering
White Balance for More Beauty
Color Meters

Screen Calibration
Which computer to get
Sync'ing photo archive to iPhone
Lightroom Survival Kit
The Story Behind That Picture

 

 

Overgaard Photo Workshops

 

 

 


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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 
           
  · © Copyright 1996-2017 · Thorsten von Overgaard


 

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