I met Edwin recently on Facebook and we had a short chat. I asked him to send his story and pictures to me and it turned out to be quite an interesting story. Not something you’d read everyday.
I also included some of his shots from his recent expo, which were shot on a 6×7 camera. They may be NSFW-DOHLYEI (Not Suitable For Work – Depending On How Liberal Your Employer Is)
1) Can you tell a bit about your background (as a photographer)
“Honestly, I’m not a photographer albeit I do carry around a camera with me mostly everywhere that I go. I think photographers are people that dedicate themselves to a profession of photography which I do not. I do however love to reflect back on my life without having to read my journal as most time I write so fast in the moment I can’t read what I wrote when I revisit the journal. I used to be a Soldier in the US Army in 2009. I was in a helicopter on my way to do a mission with a group of other Soldiers. We had an Iraqi translator (who was also a historian) in the chopper with us. I was sitting by the door next to the gunner when the translator told me to look outside. He then proceeded to tell me that where we were flying over where the Iraqis believe to be the Garden of Eden. Knowing that no one would believe me if I told them I flew over the garden of Eden, I decided to document the deployment in pictures. There was no store I could go to buy a camera, so I used my iPod which had a camera function on it which I kept tucked in my body armor. One day while running for cover from an attack I dropped the iPod. Since then I vowed to never be without a camera. “
2) How did you get into the Leica system?
“When I came back from Deployment, literally the next week I went to Best Buy which is an electronic store in the United States and asked which camera I should get. The salesman offered me a Nikon D90 with a zoom lens which I reluctantly bought. I took it back after a few days. I rented this camera and that camera but none where convenient enough to carry every day. A friend of mine was an avid photographer who would shoot weddings occasionally. He prided himself with shooting the Leica M system at weddings. At that time the camera to have was the M9. He knew my intention was to never become a photographer and that my camera absolutely had to be indestructible and small (which at the time the M9 was the smallest full frame camera around). He was going through a divorce and had to liquidate some things, so he sold me his M9 and a 35mm Summilux which I still have till this day. At age 31 it was the most expensive thing I had ever bought…. And the most beautiful.”
3) Which camera and lenses do you have?
“I’ve bought and sold many M cameras since 2010. I bought an M240 one week after it was first announced from Steve Huff (first owner), an M6 TTL, M6 Classic, M7, and an M10. I’ve since sold them all and have remained until this day with the Leica M9 that I bought after my deployment. Film is great but it is really hard to have developed and scanned and the CMOS sensor in the M240 and M10 do nothing for me creatively. There is one camera that I am yet to own but am currently saving up for which is a Black Paint Leica M9 Monochrome. Lenses I own are the 35mm Summilux Asph (Non-FLE) and a 50mm Summilux ASPH. When I finally arrive at my Leica M9 Monochrome I plan on retiring my M9. I will never sell it as long as I live. It is barely recognizable from when I first bought it as it is heavily braised. The sensor is changed though so it still has life in it.”
4) What kind of pictures do you take and why?
“I take pictures of what inspires me or makes me think of something that was going on at the time. My M9 and 35mm Summilux is meant to be my diary. I shoot exclusively in black and white and even have a special preset I call “Digital Tri-X” in light room I apply to each photo. I shoot in black and white because I want the pictures to be timeless and classic. In 2016, I attempted something different. I felt moved by a discussion I had with a great photographer in Germany. She was showing me picture upon picture of naked woman in boudoir. They were all beautiful. I thought about the days of antiquity when women were considered damsels, and in some cultures devilish. I couldn’t understand why and how that was the case then and what people saw in these women now that wasn’t appreciated then. I decided to use that as a theme for my first solo exhibition in Germany I called “No Water for the Blue Pill”. I used mainly a 6X7 camera shooting Portra 400 and Tri-X. I did manage to sneak in some images with my M6TTL at the time.”