By: Thorsten Overgaard. August 3, 2021
(This article is an excerpt from my book "Why do I Photograph?" which you can buy and download here).
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The Art of Walking the Street and Always Wear a Camera
Today I am writing to you from a national park in Croatia. Yesterday we walked around the lakes and in the woods for seven hours. Today we go see one of Tito's (1892–1980) houses up the road before we head to Zagreb and Belgrade for a sunset photo walk with locals. I visited 9 countries in a few months.
The fairytale country of Plitvice national park in Croatia. Leica SL2 with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Walking every day and always wear a camera could be called "the art of staying alive" because there is always things to see, and no matter if you walk for half an hour or for many hours, there is always something unexpected happening. This is an experience I have from all workshops where we walk. Even when it seems a normal day, we always stumble into something happening that you could never have planned.
Leica SL2 with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Recently in Paris, I came across this odd street corner and waited 5-10 minutes for someone elegant looking to fill the frame. After a while, this classic Mini car comes down the road. When I later looked at the picture, I recognized the man inside the car as someone I had stumbled into in Paris five years ago where him and his spouse made a good photo for me.
For a brief moment, "my corner" had a classic Mini and no tourists in t-shirts. One of many frames, this one worked for me. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC. © Thorsten Overgaard.
You never know, but you have to get out there for something to happen. Or rather, things are happening all the time, but if you are not out there, you won't notice or experience. As a photographer it is very fundamental. You have to have a camera you like to use, and you have to be able to always wear it so it is ready when you want to use it. A small size, simple operation that you know well, and a strap with the right length and simplicity.
This can be complicated in many ways, by having a too heavy camera, or a complicated strap system, or annoying operations and sounds of the camera that make you feel like a fool whenever you want to capture a photo.
The Art of Walking the Street is to simply go out to look, and having a camera over the shoulder, just in case.
Layla with the Leica Q2 Monochrom in Dijon, France. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC. © Thorsten Overgaard.
A couple of days ago we went to Mont Blanc, the mountains. From 30 Celsius in the charming city of Chamonix, twenty minutes up the lift to the top and it was 0 Celsius and stormy. There was even a bit of snowfall, and we saw a group of people trekking on the mountain. We waved and the waved back.
Trekking in the mountains. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC. © Thorsten Overgaard.
In between the snowy tops of Mont Blanc and the waterfalls of Croatia, we stayed a night in Venice - which is hot, humid, a bit of a tourist trap, but always beautiful (Venice doesn't smell in the summer anymore, they fixed that). I learned years ago that arriving and departing Venice is best done in a wooden Taxi limousine boat. They seem expensive, but compared to other means of transport, they are not. The 70 - 150 Euros for a trip from the airport to the front entrance of the hotel is well worth all of it. If you ever dreamed of living as Hemingway, or to be in a James Bond movie, that ride will make you feel just like that. We stayed in the most quiet part of Venice, in a quiet hotel that features the first private garden of Venice from the 1700's.
In the first garden that was established in Venice (in year 1700), which is now part of the Grand Hotel Palazzo dei Dogi. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC. © Thorsten Overgaard.
An afternoon with Henri Cartier-Bresson
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"An Afternoon with
I am writing on a new book, "An Afternoon with Henri Cartier-Bresson", which will is available for preorder now and will be released in October 2021. I'm sure you always wanted to see how HCB worked, and this is the book where we get to follow him from the moment he leaves his apartment, how he walks and works the city while he reflects on life, til he turns in the rolls for development at his usual lab at Rue de la Roquette.
I spent a month in Paris this spring, taking photos, printing photos, putting my postcards into luxury hotels, writing and walking the streets. It's a paradise for a photographer.
The view from Henri Cartier-Bressons front door in Paris. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Exile in Europe
I've been in a sort of exile in Europe. I went to organize my mother's estate and other things in Denmark after having not been there for two years. Things happen, and there you are, barred from moving as freely as you are used to. But learn from others, Hemingway stayed in Paris on self-imposed exile, writing his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. The Rolling Stones fled England in 1971 as tax exiles, which led them to record the album Exile on Main Street in Keith Richards basement in Villefranche-sur-Mer.
In Paris, writing, reading, photographing, printing and meeting interesting people.
The lesson is that, while you wait in exile, you can do things you didn't plan. I've done several "Walk with Me", which is free sunset walks in Hamburg, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Zagreb, Belgrade, Istanbul and more, and I managed to sneak in a workshop in Paris as well for a handful of enthusiasts. More than 200 new people I got to walk with.
I also wrote my newest book, "Why do I Photograph?" in Europe. Mostly in the mornings, after walkign the city. The new video class on the Noctilux is also a product of my Exile.
A moment in Opatija in Croatia. Leica SL2 with Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Exile in the US
Now it is time to return to the US, which may be another exile, depending on what sort of travel regulations are thrown at us. The Silicon Valley Workshop and the New York Workshop are almost sold out, having been postponed a few times. I do a Chicago Workshop again because the last one in October 2020 was quite fun and was sneaked into a brief moment between lockdowns.
Thorsten Overgaard by Alvin Lim Bagasan.
I'll be doing a few "Walk with Me" in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Clearwater and so on as I move through the cities. So stay tuned for a newsmail and Instagram notices with dates on that.
Krisijan Smok out and about with the Leica M10 in tthe Zagreb "Walk with Me" .Leica SL2 with 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC. © Thorsten Overgaard.
It feels like a lifetime ago, but is just a few weeks ago. The group photo from the "Walk with Me" in the beautiful sunset of Amsterdam.
A moment in Belgrade, Serbia. Leica SL2 with Leica 35mm Summilux-L f/1.4 ASPH. © Thorsten Overgaard.
I hope you enjoyed today's Story Behind That Picture. As always, feel free to email me with questions, ideas and suggestions.