Photographic style is a fickle thing. It seems like every day I hear someone reiterating age-old phrases about photography as I talk shop with people around the world: “Buy more art books, not gear.” “The first 10,000 shots are just practice.” “Great photographers only use a 50mm.” I’ve tried my whole life to ignore these phrases and focus on having personal experience sway me, this way or that, as I find my way to what I will hopefully be able to call my “photographic style” and how the Leica M-D has helped in this process.
The one thing I know will help me get there? Rangefinders. I know that this goes against everything you’ve been told about cameras not being what make the photographer, but let me explain.
When I first got my hands on a Leica, everything changed for me. Being forced to visualize a scene before committing to a photograph. Knowing the depth of field you’re about to enter into. Letting subjects drift into a frame as you track them from outside a frame line. These are all things that have driven me to become a critical thinker as opposed to an artist, in my eyes. And this is what makes rangefinders great for me.
I’m a classic case of being stuck in between left and right brain; half creative, half logic. With rangefinders, I’ve been able to stamp each time I go out hunting for photos with simple, black and white parameters (which is great for the logical side of my brain). Thinking through all the factors and technical specs that will capture a moment with my camera drive the process, and make me a better photographer.
As of late, I leave for trips around the world with a Leica M6, my Texas Leica (aka Mamiya 7), and a new Leica M-D. While it’s been almost a decade since I’ve owned and operated a digital camera, I’ve found that the M-D is a perfect tool for me. No LCD, no EVF option, no white-balance settings. Just a mechanical masterpiece that allows me to put rules around my day, allowing my creativity to funnel into all the right spots.
About Taylor Hoff:
I was born in February of 1989 in Los Angeles county. I retreated to San Francisco in 2010. I’ve been photographing since I was 13, fumbling with an old SLR to document skateboarding and bands. I currently am in visual merchandising, working on Apple Stores.
To know more about Taylor Hoff’s work, please visit his official website.