Leica 100 Years of Photography

The year 1914 saw the birth of 35 mm Leica photography as we know it today. Oskar Barnack made the Leitz Camera, the very first Leica, 100 years ago. And now, in 2014, Leica Camera AG is celebrating the centenary year of this occasion with numerous events, exhibitions and exciting new products. The slogan for this centennial celebration is ‘100 years of Leica photography’. Leica has celebrated the centenary of the 35 mm camera and the opening of the Leica Gallery in Sao Paulo with “100”, a television commercial recreating 35 historical Leica photographs.

Leica 100 Cast

Oskar Barnack, an employee of the Leitz Werke Wetzlar and a pioneer of photography, invented and constructed the first still picture camera for the 35 mm film format (24 × 36 mm) in 1914. The construction of this so-called Ur-Leica according to Barnack’s philosophy of ‘small negative – big picture’ revolutionised the world of photography with vastly increased creative scope for photographers who, up until then, had had to rely primarily on cumbersome plate cameras for their work. Barnack therefore originally gave his compact and highly portable prototype camera the name ‘Liliput’, as is noted in the company archives in a document dated March 1914: ‘Liliput camera completed’. The original is still in the possession of Leica Camera AG, together with the negatives and prints of the first exposures captured with the Ur-Leica – including pictures from a trip Ernst Leitz II took to the United States in the summer of 1914.

Leica 100

In 1925, following inevitable delays as a consequence of the First World War, the Leica finally set out to conquer the world of photography and founded the legend of the brand with a multitude of iconic pictures that have profoundly influenced our understanding of the world. Examples of these include Robert Capa’s ‘Falling Soldier’ from the Spanish Civil War, the famous portrait of Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara by Alberto Korda, the naked and burning young girl Kim Phúc, photographed by Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Út during the Vietnam War, and the photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt which captured the celebrations on VJ day in New York’s Times Square in 1945.

Leica version of Rue Mouffetard photograph
Rue Mouffetard by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Recreated Photos

“Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” by Joe Rosenthal
Buzz Aldrin on the Moon (of the Apollo 11 mission) by Neil Armstrong/NASA
“Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange
“Le Baiser de l’hôtel de ville” by Robert Doisneau
“Rue Mouffetard, Paris (1954)” by Henri Cartier-Bresson
“Behind the Gare St. Lazare” by Henri Cartier-Bresson
“Muslim women on the slopes of Hari Parbal Hill” by Henri Cartier-Bresson
“Phan Thi Kim Phúc” by Nick Ut
“Sanaa, Yemen,” by Samuel Aranda
“General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon” by Eddie Adams
“Flower Power” by Bernie Boston
“Quang Duc self-immolation” by Malcolm Browne
‘Unknown Rebel of Tiananmen Square” by Jeff Widener
“Portrait of Che Guevara” by Alberto Korda
“Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey (1967)” by Diane Arbus
“Segregated Water Fountains” by Elliot Erwitt
“John Lennon and Yoko Ono” by Annie Leibovitz
“Girl With Leica” by Alexander Rodchenko
“Self Portrait with Wife & Models, Paris (1980)” by Helmut Newton
“Seine-Maritime, Dieppe” by Henri Cartier-Bresson
“Falling Soldier” by Robert Capa
“The Photojournalist” by Andreas Feininger
“Weeping for FDR” by Ed Clark
“Rodeo – NYC” (1955/56) by Robert Frank
“Man with Book in Mouth” by Jeff Memelstein
“The Troubles” by Hanns-Jörg Anders
“V-J Day in Times Square, New York (1945)” by Alfred Eisenstaedt
“La Piete Araba” by Samuel Aranda
“Gun 1 (1955)” by William Klein
“Flower Child” by Marc Riboud
“Self-immolation of Thích Guảng Dức” by Malcolm Browne
“El Morroco, New York (1955)” by Garry Winogrand
“Wenceslas Square, Prague (1968)” by Josef Koudelka
“California (1955)” by Elliot Erwitt
“India, Kashmir, Srinagar (1948)” by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange
Leica version of Rue Mouffetard photograph

Leica 100 Credits

The Leica 100 campaign was developed at F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Sao Paulo, by executive creative directors Fábio Fernandes and Eduardo Lima, creatives Bruno Oppido, Romero Cavalcanti, Thiago Carvalho, head of art João Linneu, planners Guilherme Pasculli and José Porto, agency producer Victor Alloza, account team Marcello Penna and Melanie Zmetek, media planners Fábio Freitas and Gabriela Guedes, working with Leica marketing team Luiz Marinho and Anna Silveira.

Filming was shot by directors and editors Jones+Tino via Stink with director of photography Bjorn Charpentier, editor Danilo Abraham, production designer Daniela Calcagno, executive producers Cecília Salguero and Maria Zanocchi, line producer Victoria Martinez, 1st AD Santiago Turell, location manager Lucia Sánchez, stylist Alejandra Rosasco.

Post Production was done at Casablanca.

Sound was designed at Satelite Audio. Voiceover is by Nick Brimble.