Following our discussion of the Leica Correspondent, a.k.a. the Leikravitz, I got the following lovely photo and note from Misha Erwitt, reproduced here with permission:
This is something like what Lenny Kravitz must have seen when being photographed by the late great wildman Jim Marshall, though Jim was more likely using an M4.
The M3 pictured here is my favorite camera given to me (after intensive lobbying on my part) by my father after it sat unused in a drawer in his equipment closet for a few years. He bought it from Kryn Taconis's widow at the Magnum office in New York. She appeared there one day with four of Kryn's well-used cameras in the hope that some Magnum photographers would buy them and continue to use them. Unfortunately there were no photographers present and all the cameras were in the process of being sold to the head of the library. Before the deal was concluded my dad showed up and snagged the most well-used of the bunch.
I've had to replace many things in order to keep it functional (many thanks to the incredible Sherry Krauter) and I still use it on occasion today. This is one of the cameras Kryn used during his coverage of the French Algerian war in 1957. This is the "look" I think Kravitz and Leica were going for.
(Misha's dad is Magnum photographer Elliott.)
I also have to report that I was sitting with S. in the Acura dealership yesterday waiting for my car to be serviced, and casually picked up a section of USA Today, and my eye fell on an article blurb that said something like "We review a new camera from Leica and Lenny Kravitz." I need to admit that the product upon which we enthusiasts heaped scorn is indeed, manifestly, generating buzz. So then whadda I know?
...Except that seeing Misha's still-usable relic of Kryn Taconis's is worth the whole episode.
(Thanks to Misha)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Mani Sitaraman: "As the sappy old song says, 'Ain't nothin like the real thing....'"
Steve P.: "What a wonderful note to end on. Proof positive that there's nothing better than the real thing, be it a well-used camera or a life well lived. Can't fake that."
Bob Baillargeon, Ottawa Canada: "Kryn was one of my photography teachers long ago in the early 1970s at Conestoga College in Kitchener Ontario Canada. Kryn always carried his Leicas and taught the art of existing light photography using black-and-white film. He was a kind gent but fair and critical of the shoots we were assigned as his young protégées. Kryn's work is now part of the National Archives here in Ottawa Canada. Kryn also worked for the Dutch underground during WWII documenting life in Holland at that time. He was a great influence in my career and the way that I still use existing light. He was one of Magnum's great photographers. Thanks for publishing this story about him. It's been forwarded to many of my classmates from 40 years ago who were under Kryn's tutelage."
Benjamin Marks: "Nice...I always wanted to have taken enough pictures myself to have a camera like that. Heh. Not there yet. And Sherry? She's my kind of people. A great lady. She has been my go-to Leica specialist for my gear for years."
Trecento: "That's beautiful. Darnit, now I want one."
Michel: "You are a lucky man Mike Johnston to receive this kind of correspondence. What a neat story."
Manuel: "So, are people trying to invent a past by buying the 'Leikravitz?' I didn't want to enter this whole 'Correspondent' controversy because Mike issued a ban on bashing recently, but I believe only a fool—a very rich one, with lots of money and very little sense—will buy this camera. I mean, is he/she trying to fool anyone into thinking he/she's a seasoned photographer—or, even worse, is he/she buying it out of mere frivolity, like people who buy pre-washed jeans? In either case it's absurd. This camera just doesn't make any sense.
"On a more positive note, I'm quite impressed by the work of Misha Erwitt—which, unlike his father's, was unknown to me. Getting acquainted with the work of the most relevant photographers is one of the reasons I come here on a regular basis. Thanks, Mike!"
Doug Wicken: "I was a student of Kryn Taconis for three years at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. I well remember those M3's, which accompanied him everywhere. I recall the very day when I purchased my first Leica, a Canadian-made M4. I visited Kryn at his house in Toronto to show off my new acquisition. He went upstairs and returned with a bubble-wrapped package. Inside was a battered, worn-to-the-brass 13.5 cm lens. He installed it on my new M4 and told me to take a few pictures. He later informed me that the lens once belonged to his friend Robert Capa, and that he acquired it after Capa’s death when his belongings were being distributed among the Magnum members. This is a story I can never forget. It’s great to see his M3 again."