Limitations come in many forms. What makes all the difference, is if we can manage to turn them into our friends instead of seeing them as our enemies. To set limitations in gear, locations, subject and aesthetics can benefit an artist greatly, as street photographer Alan Schaller from London points out. Alan Schaller, an early adopter of black and white photography in the digital age, was among the first to get his hands on the new Leica M10 Monochrom. This May, Leica Camera Hong Kong welcomes him and his photographs with open arms, dedicating the Leica Store Hong Kong Causeway Bay and Leica Store Hong Kong IFC stores space to exhibit his work from today until July 29th.
When Schaller started photography, he was very protective of the fact that he was going to shoot whatever he wanted to shoot. Due to his background in writing music, he ultimately ended up with having no identity as a musician for himself. This is where his style of photography was created, to allow himself to follow the path he wants to follow. At the very beginning of his career, he gravitated strongly to black and white photographers, so he did not hesitate to create black and white images exclusively, even converting all the color images that he has been collecting. Fan Ho and his book The living theatre has been continuously his biggest inspiration, whereas great legends like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastiao Salgado and Steve McCurry remain as long-living enthusiasm for him to continue his craft in photography.
Using his Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246), he developed his style through all kinds of limitations by ignoring everything outside of his zone in order to anticipate an image. Acertainty, the means of seeing what there is and imagining what there could be allows him to achieve limiting oneself in terms of what he wants to shoot and what he is shooting with. When he found the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) and the M-lens system with the zone focusing, he knew immediately with the tactile nature of the camera and its discreteness, that it would be the perfect tool to execute his ideas. Being able to pre-focus and therefore be discreet, the new M10 Monochrom even has its benefit of being quitter, having a better shutter and higher resolution. The dynamic range and low light performance are unaltered, meaning that he may freely express his ideas through the machine.
He advices someone starting out as a photographer this: “It’s very important to show consistency in your thinking when you are a photographer. At some point you have to just say, ‘this is what I’m going to do,’ and go out with this in mind from then on. Otherwise you just end up creating a random set of images that might be clever as single pieces but will never work out as a whole.” He also believes one should dedicate the self to photography as much as possible, this means going out and shooting every day, not taking its progress for granted and getting one’s work recognized as much as possible.
Schaller anticipates the reactions, particularly from non-photographers, to his work with this photography exhibition held in Hong Kong, from today until July 29th. He believes that if one can appeal and transmit to someone who has no idea and prejudice about photography, for one to see an image and like it for any reason, is an achievement to him.
About Alan Schaller
Alan Schaller is a London based photographer who specializes in black and white photography. Publications who have featured his work include The Guardian, The New York Times T Magazine, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, South China Morning Post, Time Out, The Independent. Alan regularly has exhibitions, showing recently at the Saatchi Gallery, The Edit Space in Milan and at different Leica Galleries and Stores. He co-founded the Street Photography International Collective (SPi). It was set up to promote the best work in the genre, and to give a platform to talented yet unrepresented photographers.
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“Leica Store Hong Kong Causeway Bay” is Hong Kong’s first flagship store on Pak Sha Road in Causeway Bay, a destination bringing together premium cameras, coffee, lifestyle products and artworks in the city. Designed by renowned design studio LAAB Architects, through the integration of Hong Kong’s cultural characteristics and photographic elements, the flagship provides a new and extraordinary photographic art experience for Leica customers and photographers. The art gallery regularly exhibits works of famous international and local photographers, allowing people to enjoy shopping and a variety of fun activities.
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Leica Camera AG is an internationally operating premium manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products. The legendary status of the Leica brand (from Leitz Camera) is founded on a long tradition of excellence in the construction of lenses. Combined with innovative technologies, Leica products continue to guarantee better pictures in all situations in the worlds of visualisation and perception to this day. Leica Camera AG has its headquarters in Wetzlar, in the state of Hesse in Germany, and a second production site in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal. The company is internationally represented by its branch offices in Australia, China, France, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA. New and innovative products have been the driving force behind the company’s positive development in recent years.
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