Gavin Mills (GM), Olaf Willoughby (OW) and Stephen Cosh (SC), three Leica M-System shooters, founded The Leica Meet in August 2013. Today, there are nearly 2,000 members across 50+ countries. Meet the Leica Meet, a new blog interview series, will feature members’ work. Olaf will be talking with group members about their favorite bodies of work; how and why they got started, their creative choices and mistakes and learnings along the way. Stay tuned for the first interview with Edward Goldberg. It shows a side of Central Park, New York City few of us have ever seen.
Below, Olaf, Stephen and Gavin share the story behind The Leica Meet and what’s in store for the future.
Q: What inspired the founding of The Leica Meet?
GM: Actually, in a way, it was an American! A friend who’s also a Leica photographer was visiting London and suggested going out with a few friends for a photo walk. These friends invited a few others, who in turn invited a few more and the Leica Meet was born. We enjoyed seeing, shooting and sharing our know how so much that myself, Olaf and Stephen decided to form a Facebook group to show our work and with a view to organising more Meets.
OW: So we started in August 2013 with seven people and today we’re about to hit the 2,000 mark. Incredible when you think that the three of us had never met before that day. We’ve tapped into a real energy that inspires Leica photographers to shoot.
Q: What are the requirements for joining?
SC: Anyone is welcome to join but to post you must be a Leica M, X or S shooter. Perhaps most importantly you must love your photography.
Q: What would you say is the mission of The Leica Meet?
SC: To promote great work, build a community of great artists and learn from each other.
GM: We’re also building a worldwide member database with the aim of bringing Leica photographers together. Let’s say you are traveling and want to know the best places to shoot, you can contact Leica photographers at your destination, ask their advice on locations or if they’d like to get together, you could organise your own Meet. This has already worked successfully in Lisbon, Jakarta and Vietnam.
OW: The common denominator amongst our members is that, whether amateur or pro, they love their work and are serious (but not too serious) about it. We share know how, discuss practical experiences with Leica kits and occasionally are led into spending a little extra money!
Q: How has The Leica Meet been received in the Leica photographic community?
SC: It has been overwhelming. We have a digital following of over 11,000 people (not all of which are Leica users) and about 1,500 contributors. It gets bigger every day and the quality of work gets higher and higher.
OW: We’ve also had a good response from Leica and their dealers. We’d particularly like to thank David Bell in London and Chris Durkin in New York for their enthusiasm and commitment. I’m sure as we expand others will see the traffic and footfall benefits that a Leica Meet creates.
Q: Are you three professional photographers and/or do you have other careers?
GM: I am an international DJ and dance music producer. My photography began as a hobby and a way of documenting my travels but has now become so much more. I could call myself a professional as I get regular commissions for shoots but mostly I just shoot for pleasure.
SC: I am a designer and I do the odd bit of professional photography but it’s my hobby so I try to keep it non-pro as much as possible.
OW: I’m a marketing consultant specialising in storytelling in business presentations. I’m not a professional in the sense that all my income is derived from photography but I’m lucky enough to get occasional commissions and have worked with the WWF, which means I can donate work to a worthwhile cause and see it published in various media.
Q: How do you hope to see The Leica Meet grow in the future?
OW: The first step in our growth is near! April 16th is the date for a simultaneous shoot in the SoHo districts of New York and London. The three of us will manage the London event and Eileen McCarney Muldoon will run the show in NYC. We already have a strong list of good shooters attending and our plan is to produce “Soho Soho” a book of the event. David and Chris have been kind enough to offer book launch parties when we are ready to roll.
GM: Our steady growth is good but we don’t want to lose our ideals and values. It takes time to organise Meets, maintain the website and pages but we all do it for the love. We have lots of ideas including international workshops, books and exhibitions and I’m sure they will happen when the timing is right.
SC: The future is looking very bright!
Thank you for your time!
– Leica Internet Team
Check out The Leica Meet on their Facebook group and website.
Learn more about Olaf, Stephen and Gavin.