Walking through Austin with a big, fat Leica SL and a big, fat Panasonic 24-105mm f4.0 zoom lens. And I met a young YouTube influencer who is doing extremely interesting work...

So much has changed in photography and yet it still feels vital. Alive. Fun. 

I think about this right now because while out on a blog intensive mission to reacquaint myself with the Panasonic 24-105mm lens for the L mount I happened to run into a young photographer that I've been hearing a lot of buzz about. His name is David Guerrero and he shoots portraits on the street. He's not part of that affected Leica M6, Color film, in your face, grab the shot and try to be sneaky school of photography I see everywhere on YouTube. Instead he cruises around on a motorized skateboard with a Go Pro camera anchored on his chest and a Sony A7xx camera and 85mm f1.4 G Sony lens in his hands. He is not very tall and almost anonymous looking; at the same time he is absolutely fearless about stopping random strangers whom he finds visually interesting on the sidewalks, and asking, cajoling and otherwise guiding people to be photographed right there and right then. Here's his Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/dgphotoholic/

He has posted only a few more than 330 images/videos over the last year. He started his Instagram street shooting project just one year ago. The thing that floored me is that David has already racked up over one point one million followers. That's 1,100,000 followers. He has a similar number of followers on YouTube. I looked at the stats and almost had to sit down on a park bench. He's done all this in a year. 

David has an interesting presentation style on Instagram. He's filming his approach and pitch to prospective portrait subjects. The "ask." The Go Pro also records video of the photography being done. As far as I can tell he's not using flash or doing anything out of the ordinary technically but he is pretty darn great at establishing a quick and, most of the time, great rapport with older men, younger women and everyone in between. 

I was walking down Congress Ave. shooting dusk photos with the aforementioned zoom lens and stopped to take a photo of a building facade from the sidewalk at an intersection. David had stopped there to wait to cross the street. He got my attention and asked me about my camera. That's a big deal to me these days since very few people seem to care about cameras. We chatted and I asked what he was shooting with. He told me his name and the kinds of images he shoots and I asked if he was the guy I'd been hearing about here in Austin for his street portraits. It was at that point that he grabbed his phone and showed me his IG feed. I was impressed. It's not my style but it's surely not a bad style at all. In fact, I'm now a fan. 

We traded contact information, shook hands, the light changed and he was off. He headed to the opposite side of the street and we were both heading South on Congress Ave., four lanes apart. I looked ahead on his side of the street and saw a very cute young woman riding an electric bike, wearing a plaid, pleated skirt. I glanced back at David. He was already waiting patiently for the cross walk light to change. He obviously had seen the same woman. He flagged her down as she came by and convinced her to pose. I smiled and kept walking on my route. I was, again, impressed. He's playing the odds. If he asks X number of people to pose he'll get a percentage and, with practice he'll fine tune his approach for even better odds. And he's certainly not shy about it. 

He's in his twenties. How is he making a living? Well, having a million followers on YouTube generates some revenue but mostly he finds that people enjoy their mini-sessions and sometimes hire him to make portraits of friends, family or even formal portraits of themselves. He seems happy, curious, unthreatening, totally out in the open about what he's doing...... and very successful at it. And his photos reflect that.

I wish I could do what he does. Not exactly the same style but the same energy and level of engagement. In another year he'll be masterful at this. And with views of his social media feeds growing like crazy he'll not only be successful but he'll no doubt influence a lot of people in his generation (and mine) to work in a certain way. Maybe we'll see a move toward intentional street portraits instead of sneaky grab shots. I think that might be a nice shift. You can only look at photos of people being caught unaware, in demeaning situations or with odd/unintended expressions, for so often before you long for something that is much more a collaboration between photographer and subject. Like David's work. It's a fresh approach to photography and one I think has great value. And he's local. I'm now following his work on Instagram. And I was flattered to see that he's following my IG feed as well. You should too: https://www.instagram.com/kirktuck/


Yesterday my reason to go out and play with yet another lens was to compare, first hand, what I was able to get from the Leica 35-70mm f4.0 R Rom lens my friend Paul is loaning to me versus a lens I've had for two or three years; the Panasonic Lumix 24-105mm f4.0 S zoom lens for the L mount system. I was trying to decide which one to keep. Whether to return the Leica to its owner or to sell off the Panasonic and keep the Leica. My decision? I shot one afternoon last week with the Leica and yesterday is was the Lumix's turn...

While the Leica is snappy and bright the Panasonic is the better all around lens and it's not much bigger than the Leica lens with R to L adapter. I found slower, manual focus zoom lenses a harder to focus quickly (the slow viewing aperture lowers in and out of focus discrimination) and I found myself embracing both the wider and longer focal lengths of the Panasonic lens with gusto. I'll keep the 24-105mm and return the Leica 35-70mm. No sense holding on to both. 

The 24-105mm is as sharp as the Leica everywhere they overlap. It seems a bit less contrasty but at the same time it seems to have a little more resolution. Different fingerprints. You can match the contrast of the Leica lens and the Panasonic with a judicious and quick preset in Lightroom or Photoshop. The Panasonic also delivers, in addition to a wider range of angles of view, autofocus and four or five stops of image stabilization. And that can come in handy on Leica SL and CL bodies that don't have IBIS. All good additions for walking around photographing quickly. For brute force optical performance I've also got the Leica 24-90mm which is wonderful and ponderous at the same time. 

If the Leica R series zoom didn't require a bulky lens adapter it would be a wonderful choice for a playing around and on the camera all the time lens. But it does require the adapter. And that makes it just about the same size and weight of the Panasonic. The Panasonic has more girth but the Leica is just about as long (with the adapter) weighs as much. If we're going to trade off features and performance then I'm solidly in the Lumix camp here.

Here are my quick evaluation shots: click to see them larger.

this young man saw me walking by with my camera and asked me if I wanted to take 
his photo. Sure. Then he grabbed his hands and put them in front of his face. I shot a 
few frames. I still don't know what the concept was. But he was a nice enough subject.

it's important to me to see who lenses also render stuff in black and white.
That's why I spent my time yesterday shooting in Jpeg+DNG. I had the Jpeg set 
to Monochrome HC so all my previews and reviews were in black and white.
I just left it up to the camera to get the color files right. 

All the test shots were done at f4.0 to f5.6. I tried to keep my shutter speed at 
1/250th of a second or higher. Testing the lens not my ability to handhold 
slower shutter speeds. 

Photographer shoots yet another self portrait with his favorite Leica SL
and the Canon 50mm f1.4 FD SSC. Loving that lens for its 

Meet young photographers. They might show you the future.