Gary Hough picked up his first Leica camera in ’07 and quickly become a Leica aficionado. With his academic background in physics and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, he appreciates Leica’s superb German engineering. Professionally, Gary has worked on the rocket engine thrust profiles of the three stage Saturn 5 rocket at North American, an aerospace company, and developed types of artificial heart valves. Gary also spent 35+ years as a real estate developer and has 8 patents to his name.
In 2010, he became a member of LHSA – The International Leica Society (LHSA) where he now serves as president. LHSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the appreciation, use and study of Leica products, their history, and the people that have made Leica what it is today. LHSA members enjoy comradery and know that Leica journey is most meaningful when experiences are shared with friends who understand that similar to Leica cameras themselves, the community is more than the sum of its parts.
Become a member of LHSA today, and as part of Giving Tuesday, LHSA will donate 10% of your membership fee to its Photographer’s Fund which provides financial support and exposure for a student or beginning professional photographer.
Below Gary talks to us more about LHSA’s mission, its Photographer’s Fund, and the organization’s connection with Leica Camera.
For those who aren’t familiar with LHSA-The International Leica Society, can you share what the organization is? What makes it different from other Leica-related organizations out there?
LHSA is a non-profit organization where members discover Leica’s rich history, learn photography skills, discuss Leica gear, connect with other photographers and collectors, and find inspiration. The Society is composed of approximately 800 members of all ages and backgrounds from the U.S.A., Asia, and Europe. We all have a strong bond to what Leica represents and Leica equipment – from the first film models through the current generation of digital offerings.
Formed in 1968, by a small group of enthusiasts dedicated to preserving history, the Society consisted originally of collectors. More recently, LHSA has evolved to include the next generation of Leica users. We have impressive resources and historical archives, a relentless passion for all things Leica, and publish Viewfinder, which is a top rated quarterly magazine. Plus, we hold meetings in different photographic hub cities where you can learn from experts on photographic technique and software solutions. Plus, the latest gear is always available for test drives on location by noted Leica photographers, and usually attended by executives from Leica AG and Leica USA.
LHSA has also originated limited LHSA-editions of Leica cameras and lenses that Leica Camera AG has created, for example the Leica MP 3 0.72 LHSA Special Edition. These rare special edition Leica cameras and lenses have become collector items. There will be a new commemorative camera available in 2017, so please stay tuned for the announcements and get this limited edition before they are gone!
We’ve heard that LHSA is part of the Leica journey. Can you tell us more how you see the Leica journey and how LHSA fits into it?
For fifty years, LHSA has been part of the Leica journey and has been a meeting place for Leica users as well as collectors.
The photographic community is a large and diverse group filled with many brands, shooting styles, interests, and ambitions. Leica is unique in its historical beginnings and has a long list of iconic photographers (Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Alfred Eisenstadt, and countless others) who have understood the benefits of the Leica design.
The Leica brand and LHSA are tied at the hip. Our culture and singular passion of ‘everything Leica’ allows for complete immersion and focus. Our rich archive of Leica literature, books, and paraphernalia, provide a base of support for Leica historians and aficionados.
We provide opportunities for Leica enthusiasts to experience the full measure of their choice in camera gear with our events, educational programming, photo contests, and more.
Currently, we are working on many collaborative efforts between Leica USA and Leica AG in efforts to share information, support our enriching programs, and raise awareness in our photographic community. We look forward to connecting with the next generation of Leica enthusiasts who favor shooting more than collecting. This group is our future, and they will drive LHSA as they explore new vistas in the use, interests, and sharing of Leica Camera. Coupled with our roots and historical background, the organization’s Leica journey is just beginning, and we’re excited for those who will join us.
Today you’re launching a Giving Tuesday campaign to support the Photographer’s Fund-what are you doing today?
Yes, and we’re excited about this! If you become a member today, November 29, we’ll donate 10% of your membership fee to our Photographer’s Fund. It’s a wonderful way to get all the benefits of being an LHSA member while supporting the next generation of photographers. The Photographer’s Fund provides financial support and exposure for a student or beginning photographer. The cash award of up to $5,000 will help photographers complete their projects and provide opportunities for their work to be seen by a large audience. The recipients will also have the opportunity to be featured in an exhibition at a Leica store in North America and have their project published in our Viewfinder magazine.
Can you tell us more about the idea for the Photographer’s Fund?
About 20 months ago, Tom Smith, Director of Leica USA Akademie, and I were discussing ways to give back. The basic concept is to raise funds to support deserving photographers, enable them to complete a project, and share their work with our community in various ways. LHSA already supports photography by preserving Leica’s rich history, celebrating photography, and providing photographic learning opportunities. This was a natural extension for LHSA to help support photographers making history right now.
As part of this endeavor, a select group of Honorary Ambassadors made up of award-winning and notable photographers will oversee the selection process, guide us, and participate in the conclusions, announcements, and further expansion of the concept.
We’re getting close to raising our first $5,000 and starting the next phase of the program, taking it from ideation to actual execution. And I hope that Giving Tuesday will help us surpass our goal.
We have big plans for this Fund over the next few years! I find these efforts of giving back to our photographic community very exciting, and look forward to getting this program off the ground and giving it proper exposure.
As a new member of LHSA, today 10% of LHSA member fees will go toward supporting the Photographer’s Fund. What else can members expect from LHSA?
There are many benefits of membership including:
- Viewfinder Quarterly Journal Subscription + Exclusive Articles
- Catalog Marketplace, a members-only marketplace to buy and sell camera equipment
- LHSA Membership Directory Access
- Invitation to participate in LHSA regional shoots
- Invitation to the LHSA Annual Meeting with Leica Camera-sponsored workshops
- Reduced prices on current and future LHSA branded products and services
- Repair discounts at Leica USA
- An Ask our Experts program to solve your issues regarding your gear and software,
- Camaraderie and fellowship of attendees online and in person at our events
Our events also include appearances by local talented and award-winning photographers, educational opportunities with tips on technique, and access to the latest Leica gear.
You mentioned one of the biggest benefits of becoming an LHSA member is getting a subscription to the Viewfinder Quarterly Journal. Not only this, the recipient of the Photographer’s Fund will also be featured in this magazine. For those who are not familiar with it, can you tell us more about Viewfinder?
The Viewfinder is our acclaimed quarterly journal that features inspiration from the best photographers in addition to articles on old Leicas, new Leicas, and how to get the most out of them. Readers enjoy great photography and technical insight into Leica cameras through either the print or digital subscriptions that are available. Viewfinder is edited by past president Bill Rosauer, and this journal is at the face of LHSA to our photographic community.
No matter your pleasure, the Viewfinder will have something for you. Every issue is smattered with tidbits about some historical fact, contemporary use, test drives of the newest products, shoots at places you will put on your travel bucket list, editing software solutions, using old lenses on new camera bodies. You’ll see Pulitzer Prize and contemporary photographer work along with some of our own members for your enjoyment. In print version, they will remain on your bookshelf for future review and reflection. As a member, you have access to our archives that include back issues.
This Giving Tuesday campaign is part of many of LHSA’s ongoing efforts to drive membership and provide more meaningful benefits to the members. Can you tell us what else you have planned as you look to 2017?
The year 2017 is the beginning of our 50th Anniversary Jubilee kicking off at Chicago fall 2017 and finishing at Wetzlar fall 2018!
2017 also marks the introduction of a new LHSA Leica commemorative camera and lens, exclusive to LHSA. You will hear more about this limited edition in early 2017.
We are committed to preserve this organization with its rich culture, its historical presence, its position in the photographic community, and its legacy of supporting the Leica brand for future generations of Leica enthusiasts.
If you’re a Leica enthusiast, I’d encourage you to check us out! We are determined to provide you with services that give you the experiences you seek. We have a large historical archive that is being converted to easy and quick search, a treasure trove of professional photographers willing to share their work, a first class quarterly journal filled with historical and contemporary facts, content and imagery, and a host of other benefits to help you along your Leica Journey.
Thank you for your time, Gary!
Become a member of LHSA today, and as part of Giving Tuesday, LHSA will donate 10% of your membership fee to its Photographer’s Fund which provides financial support and exposure for a student or beginning professional photographer. Learn more about LHSA by visiting their website at lhsa.org or connecting with the #LeicaSociety community on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.