Arrivals and Departures: An Introduction

Huge distances in a slow pace

On this journey I will visit three cities, where I have never been before:  Moscow, Ulan Batar, and Beijing. The train will bring me from the Russian forests to the Mongolian desert and finally through the mountains to Beijing. The train will be the red thread connecting these capitals. From the window I will follow the change of landscape and the change of mood.

It’s a trip I have always wanted to take; The legendary journey along the Trans Siberian Railway. So much history has taken place along these tracks, so many eyes have seen what I am about to see. I want to find out if traveling with the train will give me another perspective. In Denmark you can cross the country in five hours by train, but in Russia the distances are huge. I wonder if the connection between people and places will feel different considering the fact that I will pass every tree, every house and every village on my way to Beijing?

Everything is new

To me Russia, Mongolia and China are all unknown lands, and so is my equipment on this journey: The brand new Leica M Monochrome and a 50 mm apo-summicron-lens. On top of this, it is also my first time using a digital camera, and my first time using a Leica-camera at all. Everything is new, but then again, my ambition is always the same. I will use the camera as a tool to create contact, closeness and intimacy. I want to meet people, to connect with the cities, to make the places mine, even if it’s just for a short while.

Black and White

Working with black and white photography has always been the most direct way for me to reach more existential questions. In black and white I feel my images are not bound to a specific location or time, but they create their own universe. I like to think they are about something else and more than just what they show. At least that is my ambition; to focus on our emotions and a state of mind that is not defined by how we look or where we come from, but on the things that connect us and make us dependent on each other.

image from I, Tokyo
illustrations by Sun Hee Engelstoft

-Jacob Aue Sobol

To learn more about Jacob and view his work, visit his website at

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  • Such an interesting concept , added together with a silver fx software will be the way probably , looking forward to seeing some results 🙂

  • What i am can’t understand – Why You gave a new monochrom leica camera to person which never shooted with Leica, don’t know anything about Leica lenses except there are expensive. What the point? What a new kind of information we can get from this?

  • I don’t mean to be rude but the author has in his possession the most superb camera presently available and this is all he submits for the first installment of a series about a transcontinental train trip with it – one image? I guarantee that if the assignment had been mine I’d have done a lot more.

  • Otto, Jacob is unreal! 🙂
    Jacob, all the best on your journey!
    I saw Klavdij Sluban’s story, can’t wait to see yours…

  • Uuuups, is this the Leica Camera Blog? Maybe I missed something….!?

  • Superb photo: so very un-APO-Summicron-like :-)…

    As a Frenchman put it, some 60 years ago: “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept”

  • I love the drawings, they really give you a feel of what it’s like to be on the journey. Also I think the inclusion of one photo is the perfect way to leave people wanting more.

  • Wow, I can’t believe there are people over here questioning why Jacob Aue Sobol should get this camera for a project. I always thought that people who have a Leica, know something about photography. And that people who know something about photography, know Jacob Aue Sobol.
    Have you looked at his work? In there you can find the answer. If the photo to this introduction is not enough, I suggest to try Google. It’s worth it, if you like Leica, you probably like Jacob Aue Sobol as well…

  • Hi,
    This is going to sound very arrogant but why are there so many idiots who think they are photographers and make this stupid comments!……..he is getting paid by Leica advertising the new leica and prob getting funded to do this journey and have a n amazing expensive camera! why not?
    I havent heard him once mention the Leica in the slideshow trailer..why? becaus ehe doesnt need it or even care really his images are great without it!..its NOT the camera taking the photos its the heart,mind,vision and soul of the photographer. Jocob took amazing images from Greenland with a pocket film point & shoot and his images are influenced by photographers such as Anders peterson and Moriyama. You dont need a very expensive camera to ake good average priced camera with a very good or digital small may be better if you wnat to be close and intimate..flash maybe but def not a ‘Leica’ spend that money instead on funding youre project and research..dedication and emotional aims…..then when you get a a project exposed,perhaps win a grant or competition…accepted by an agency buy a leica or a mamiya 7..but don’t buy one thinking this will amke you a better photographer…as Anders says be a ‘human being first’…..of course if leica offer you a free one and a platform to expose youre work and agency who would refuse/..I know I wouldnt chuck me that 4-5 figure camera this way please!………dont change Jacob continue to be influneced but not copy…..

  • If that image is from “I, Tokyo”, it was not taken on a Leica. On that particular book he used the Ricoh GRS1, the Contax T3, and the Contax G2.

    It’s a brilliant body of work, but comes so close to Moriyama’s vision it squeaks!

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