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Leica 100 Video | Recreating The World’s Most Iconic Images To Celebrate A Century

By Kishore Sawh on October 2nd 2014


Leica really does have a flare for the theatrical. They do give good pomp and circumstance, and seemly, do see, maybe not the need, but the desirability of standing on ceremony. Some may argue that this is how a company like Leica aims to maintain its relevance in a market driven by price and trends, but others would argue this is just who and what Leica is – iconic. ‘Leica 100’ is the latest output ad from Leica and it celebrates a century of photography by recreating some of the most iconic images throughout history.

It is beautiful, it is moving, and sure to stir up some puzzled feelings. It is the centennial anniversary of the camera company that took photography from a lumbering inconvenient art, into a truly portable form that was to photography what the jet engine was to aviation – totally transforming. The video was published by the Leica Gallery Sao Paolo, and is a series of moving images that are reflections of images most of us will recognize as having historical significance. From the Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange to Raising The Flag on Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal, to Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare by Bresson, they are here.


It’s undeniably beautiful, and how it’s been all put together by DoP Bjorn Charpentier is inspiring. An interesting feature is to see these recreated images not as just stills, but moving, which sort of brings you into the feeling of the time or moment the images were taken.

[REWIND: Web App That Helps To Visualize DOF Across Focal Lengths, Formats, & Apertures]

For all its beauty and detail, however, the video is stirring up some negativity toward it and the brand. The narrator of the video firmly asserts that many of the images recreated here were not taken on a Leica, but rather because of Leica. It’s hard to disagree with that given that Leica was the company to take cameras and put them into the mobile hands of people everywhere, but it seems to be rubbing some the wrong way, especially when near the end of the video there is another assertion that suggests Leica, “didn’t invent photography, but we invented, photography.” Watch and share your feelings on how this video made you feel – did it make you want to buy a Leica?

Source: PetaPixel, Leica Rumors 

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. J. Dennis Thomas

    I hate it when Budweiser ads show hot girls in bikinis jumping around whenever a Bud is popped open. Whenever I open a Budweiser I only see my old wife, ugly kids, and hillbilly neighbors working on their trucks in the trailer park.

    It’s an ad, take it with a grain of salt.

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  2. Clare Havill

    Lovely imagery, shame about the over the top marketing BS.

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  3. Ian Moss

    I hated every second of this.

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  4. Jim Johnson

    Okay, Leica can claim to have changed the way documentary and street photographers interacted with their subjects. They can claim that changed the accepted aesthetic of candid photography. They can also claim they made 35mm viable by changing the way if feeds to horizontal (thus making the frame larger) and that their superior lenses made it sharp enough to print larger. I give them all that.

    But I gotta call BS on so much in this ad.

    The kodak Brownie (1900) made snapshots possible and brought photography out of the studio according to most scholars.

    Dorathea Lange’s Migrant Mother (shot on a Graflex) and Rosenthal’s Iwo Jima photo (shot with a Speed Graphic) do not benefit from any of Leica’s innovations (they are both rather formal in composition, shot in large format on cameras created in 1912, well before Leica).

    Even Leica’s claim that their cameras have been around for 100 years of influence is dubious. The first Leica prototype was built in 1913, but the first prototype released for feedback wasn’t until 1923 to be released to the public in 1925.

    Never mind the assertion that “the most iconic photos in history” owe something to Leica. That discounts 75 to 85 years of history (depending on whether you accept Leica’s timeline), as well as the work of photographers who created photos outside of the candid aesthetic and with other equipment. In other words, anything by Curtis, Adams, or Weston can’t be considered among the “most iconic” photos.

    Leica makes good cameras. They have made iconic cameras in the past. They have a definite, important place in photographic history. Too bad this absolutely gorgeous ad is so insulting to anyone with any respect to the history of photography.

    And don’t get me started on how Leica’s M magazine re-brands and co-opts famous and dead photographer’s genius as if Leica should be considered responsible for their work.

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    • Jim Johnson

      BTW, I’m fairly calm about this now, but this ad boiled my blood when I saw it a couple of days ago.

      I teach photography at a university, and I preach every day to learn from the past and know where things come— it’ll enrich your work. I also preach that your vision is reliant on the technology available to you, but the tools aren’t responsible for what you produce.

      Honestly, I’m kind of disgusted with Leica over their recent marketing and how I think it absolutely distorts the ideas that drive great photography.

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  5. Barry Cunningham

    More than just a little pretentious perhaps.
    I’m detecting the spirit of a 4×5″ Graflex in at least one of the photos.

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  6. John Cavan

    I enjoyed the video, it was extremely well done, but I think Leica probably went over the top on their claims a bit. In the end, I think it simply arms people, who already have a view that Leica is arrogant and elitist, with even more ammunition to foster their opinion. That was probably not desirable.

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  7. Raoni Franco

    I prefer the re-creations of the iconic images with John Malkovich…..

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