Jörg Theimer: Leica at Work and Leica on Holiday

Although Jörg Theimer got his first film camera when he was only 10 years old, his interest in photography lay dormant for a decade. Soon after becoming an athletics coach, he began shooting sports pictures as a freelancer for local newspapers. He soon realized his digital point & shoot was inadequate for the task and he acquired a DSLR system. Jörg Theimer now works for Leica in his home country of Germany and that’s what really kindled his passion for photography. “From that time on, my interest in rangefinder photography grew exponentially,” he recalls, “for with this system I encountered an entirely different standard of photography. Playing the game with the open aperture and the shutter speed has fascinated me ever since.” Here’s the story of an emerging enthusiast who’s had the good fortune to be able to embody the core values of Leica, both in his work and as a serious enthusiast committed to enhancing his skills and exploring the world.

Q: Can you tell us about your position at Leica Camera including your title, how long you have worked at Leica, and what your job entails?

A: A rough translation of my title in English is “Group Leader of Marketing Control.” So I am responsible for controlling of Leica sales on a global level. I’ve worked for Leica for 4½ years and have had contact with all of Leica’s subsidiaries and distributors.

Q: Were you an avid photographer before working at Leica or did the company inspire you to start shooting?

A: I was a sports photographer before I started working at Leica, but the amount of time and the passion I now expend on photography started at Leica. From my first working day, and especially after completing the internal production training for new Leica members, the Leica photography virus infected me.

Q: Did you have any formal training in photography?

A: My father is a semi-professional photographer, so I was born into a world of pictures and slideshows. When I was 10, I got my first analog camera. Ten years after that, I started shooting with my first digital camera. My motto is: “Testing is knowledge. Learn by doing.” During my time at Leica, I have received many helpful tips from the Leica Akademie.

Q: What is the best photography lesson you have learned while working at Leica?

A: It’s from Peter Karbe, the Chief Optical Designer of M-Lenses: “When the sun is shining, set the aperture at f/8.” A tip from the Leica Akademie: “Focus on the foreground, the background is too busy.”

Q: What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?

A: When I am using a camera, I can shut out all the things around me and then I am in my own world!

Q: In addition to the Leica X2, which you used on your trip to the Canary Islands, what cameras do you own or use regularly?

A: I have an M8 with two lenses and a V-Lux 30. When I’m on holiday, I have the chance to use the X2.

Q: Do you think that the Leica X2 is an ideal travel camera, and if so, why? Were you able to capture everything you wanted with its 36 mm equivalent lens or did you sometimes wish for another focal length or a zoom lens?

A: The Leica X2 is an ideal travel camera, at least from my perspective, because it’s very handy, lightweight and easy to use. I keep it in its ever-ready case so I’m able to take pictures quickly when the opportunity arises. With its integrated lens, I am able to shoot all kinds of subjects with no problem. If photographers adjust themselves to the object being photographed by moving closer or farther away, zooming with their feet, then a zoom lens really isn’t necessary.

Q: You mentioned that one of the things you learned at the Leica Akademie was to focus on the foreground and de-emphasize the busy background. These three images: the close-up of hanging fruits with a tower in the distance, a bronze statue of a man and a colorful tree or bush against a brownish natural background seem to exemplify that technique. Did you shoot these pictures at wide apertures to blur the background details, and have you considered using this technique to shoot portraits or other subjects?

A: Yes, the close-up pictures you cite were all taken using the technique you described. The other pictures, shot under brilliant sunshine, were taken at and aperture of f/8 or smaller, using aperture-priority (A) mode.

Q: Which lenses do you use with your Leica M8?

A: I use both a 50 mm Summarit f/2.5 and a 28 mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens. The Leica M8 is completely sufficient for my use as an amateur photographer, but I have also become a great friend of the X2 and I’m anxiously awaiting for it to be further developed.

Q: Evidently you are an emerging enthusiast who has been, as you ironically put it, “infected by the Leica virus.” You mention that you are “in your own world” when you’re shooting pictures, but you are also concentrating on and taking in the outer world. Can you say something about this apparent contradiction that seems to be universal among passionate photographers?

A: Yes, the Leica virus infected me on my first day at work, and nothing has changed over the years. When I say “my own world,“ I mean that I am completely concentrated on what I’m doing. I am able to shut out the daily grind and block out any daily stress.

Q: It is a great thing to be representing something you really believe in and use personally, like Leicas. How do you think your personal passion for photography affects your position as a Group Leader in global marketing, and do you believe that your job is having a positive influence on your photography that goes beyond your access to the Leica Akademie?

A: As a Leica employee you should have a passion for the products that we manufacture — this has nothing to do with my position in the company. All of my colleagues can be proud of our products and their quality. The passion is even written into our company’s statement of core values. For me, the passion is very helpful for my daily work. If everyone is on the same wavelength then we also have the same understanding of the brand and how it relates to photography.

Q: There is only one image in your portfolio that includes people – a swimming area between rock ledges with the ocean in the background. It’s a very dynamic image because of the unique setting and the human interest. Can you tell us something about this picture and how you took it?

A: The picture is of the seawater pool in the north west part (Garachico) of Tenerife. Due to many fires on the north side of Tenerife, numerous seawater pools have been built for the safety of the swimmers. Nothing in the seawater pool has been artificially planted. In Garachico the pool emerges from between volcanic rocks and it’s possible to enter it only by using stairs and ladders.

Q: There are two pictures of what look like sandstone outcroppings eroded by the wind and water, one showing the surrounding vegetation, and the other a close-up concentrating on the geologic formation. This is a classic example of “zooming with your feet.” Can you tell us something about the subject and why you decided to shoot it in two ways?

A: It’s the moon landscape of Tenerife: Paisaje Lunar Tenerife. The earth has many bizarre things to offer that really don’t seem to belong, and such places fascinate me. This landscape is characterized by bizarre rock formations that evolved from volcanic eruptions. The result is an absolutely fascinating landscape that gives one the impression that they have landed on the moon. Those who are tired of seeing the “normal everyday sights“ should take the opportunity to see the moon landscape of Tenerife for themselves. Many parts of the island are known as moon landscapes, but the Paisaje Lunar is the most famous and it’s definitely worth seeing. It’s located in the southern part of the island in the Teide National Park and can only be reached by car.

Q: What was your general impression of the Canary Islands?

A: I was fascinated by the various possibilities that the Canary Islands had to offer. The vast vegetation of La Gomera and the stony Teide National Park on Tenerife provide amazing visual contrasts.

Q: Your majestic image of the village with a tower and a rock in the background suggests you might have a talent for or interest in architectural photography? Have you thought about this, or about photographing other travel destinations?

A: Architectural photography is a new challenge. To pursue it one should naturally visit larger cities like Dubai. However, large cities do not interest me as vacation destinations; therefore, I will continue taking surprising pictures at my less imposing, but more satisfying, vacation destinations.

Q: How do you see your photography evolving over, say, the next few years, and do you have any plans to further your photographic education through the Leica Akademie?

A: I am always open to suggestions and critiques concerning my photos. I receive this kind of feedback when I post photos on Facebook or on my own website. Through the tips that I’ve received, I have been able to further develop my photographic technique. I want to continue doing this going forward. For instance, Photoshop interests me since all of my photographs up till now have remained untouched. I believe that a seminar at the Leica Akademie could give me the impulse to explore new things. Now I just need to find a date that fits my schedule and fill out the application form!

Thank you for your time, Jörg!

– Leica Internet Team

See more of Jörg’s work on his website.

 

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