Dries Buytaert

Photography as meditation

Five snow plows driving behind each other during a Boston snowstorm.
A "phalanx of snow plows": five snow plows clearing Tremont Street during a major Boston snowstorm.

I picked up a Leica M10 camera a few months ago. I've longed for a Leica camera for many, many years. The moment I finally held it, I knew it was something special.

The Leica M system was introduced in 1954 with the launch of the Leica M3. Even after nearly 70 years of innovation, the Leica M10 remains a manual focus camera with an optical rangefinder. It's beautifully old school.

Some of the first photos I made using my new Leica are photos of my dad's garage and a glacier in Iceland.

A couple of months in, I'm starting to understand why people fall in love with Leica. Thoughts like I may never use my Nikon camera again, have crossed my mind.

What I love about the Leica is that it slows me down while pushing my discipline and technical skill. Because the Leica is a manual camera, you adjust the focus of the lens by hand instead of using auto-focus. And because it is a rangefinder camera, you look next to the lens instead of "through to the lens". It's an acquired skill.

Last weekend, Boston was hit by a major snowstorm: we saw 23 inches (60 cm) of snow in a single day. I went out in the snowstorm with my Leica. Using my camera made me more conscious, and appreciate the small or ordinary things in life. I smiled as I took photos of people shoveling their sidewalks, and admired snow plows clearing the streets. I would not have appreciated a severe storm the same way without my camera, or when simply snapping pictures with my iPhone.

It's when it finally hit me: photography can be a meditative experience.

A woman shoveling snow on a sidewalk.
A snowy street with a pizza sign on the side of it.

PS: I also love that Leica's website is built on Drupal 9.

— Dries Buytaert

1 min read time