It was at the recent Paris Photo Fair that I came across the works of Saul Leiter.

It had been a long day of systematically moving from one booth to another, row by row, back and forth down the aisles, left and right. After several hours of being on my feet and seeing more photos, especially of naked bodies, in one day than ever before in any other year, my consciousness was saturated with images. All I wanted was some dark chocolate.

Then I spotted this collection of medium-sized prints from the corner of my eye. Everyday life in mid-20th century New York depicted in saturated colours. Beautifully dreamy, these photos jolted me out of my dazed state.

I tiptoed, sidestepped and wiggled my way to see the photos up close. “Saul Leiter,” I noted in my growing list of photos/photographers that I was making on my Blackberry. I added “Auto, 1960” and “Footprints, 1950” to the list before moving away so that someone else could admire these moments that Leiter had captured on film some 50 years ago.

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Today I was browsing through my Twitter feed and learned that Leiter had passed away. The New York Times published a thoughtful narrative with anecdotal stories from Tony Cenicola, who worked for him as his assistant and shared how Leiter “had a way of seeing beauty in everything”.

For three years, Tomas Leach worked with Leiter to produce a documentary on the latter, titled “In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter“. Just from watching the trailer, I know that I’d probably enjoy the film and that I’d definitely like Leiter. The soundbites from him also struck a chord, especially:

I’m a person who likes to postpone things. I see no reason for being in a rush. When you consider many of the things that people treat very seriously, and you realise that they don’t deserve to be treated seriously, and many of the things that people worry about are not really worth worrying about.

If I didn’t do anything more than my little book, wouldn’t that have been enough?

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Here are some photos that I took earlier this year when I was trying out AB’s rangefinder and wandered on my own around Paris all day. Taking my time to explore, see, and discover. What a pleasure it was. I wish I could/would do this more often.

img007 - Blvd de Magenta

img010 - Gare de l'est

img011 - Marché St Quentin

img026 - La Caféotheque

img024 - La Caféotheque

img031 - Panthéon - Jules Vallès

img032

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5 replies on “Saul Leiter: In no great hurry

  1. I didn’t know Saul Leiter – thanks for sharing this. Rangefinders are fun. I have both film and digital and they make you slow down and think. Well worth trying out.

    1. You’re most welcome Andrew. I’ve only tried using an analog rangefinder, which definitely made me slow down a lot more. Still need to get more practice on focusing more swiftly!

  2. I’m a fan of Saul Leiter, saw an exhibition here (Italy) a few months ago. He made decades ago things that many people are trying to do now!
    robert
    PS: but your photos are good as well, I specially like the one of the cook because of the framing and composition and the last one, with the girl almost sleeping on the metrò (I guess). Brava!

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