Book review: Leica’s Eyes Wide Open!

erikBook, Exposition, Media, Photography, Review

At the exhibition “100 years of Leica”, I picked up this book about this history of the legendary German camera brand. This comprehensive book consists of 560 pages of information and almost 1200 images. The book is printed in a German and an English version; I bought the English edition which I’ll briefly review here.

Eyes Wide Open! (in German it is called ‘Augen Auf!’) covers the period of Leica history from the 1920’s until the present day. The book describes the complete story about Leica-inventor Oskar Barnack and his aim to build a smaller camera at the start of the last century. By doing so, he invented the now classic 35mm film format and thus started the rise of the Leica rangefinder film camera. This history is illustrated in this book with hundreds and hundreds of pictures and stories about how the new-to-market Leica was used by both amateur and professional photographers. And what amazes, is that so many of the iconic photographs of the last century where shot with a Leica; obviously these images are all to be found in the book too.
But it’s not only pictures that make up for this book; there’s a lot to read too and it doesn’t leave a stone unturned: the period of the invention of the Leica, the second world war (where all German propaganda- and war-photographers used the Leica) and the post-war era of the modern world with modern takes on social, portrait and fashion photography.

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    Leica promotional covers

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    Technical side of things

  • Second World War
    Second World War

  • Colour photography in documentary (Vivian Maier on the left)
    ‘Modern’ documentary photography (Vivian Maier in left picture)

The rise of colour photography, fashion, portrait and social photography make up for the second half of the book and a lot of the photographic history in this part of the book is written without a strong Leica bias and thus can also be enjoyed by people without a strong sense of Leica, but with a hunger for a pretty deep comprehensive write-up of photographic history. That said, I found a lot of the images in this part of the book inspiring and a joy to discover.
Hardcover, 565 pages, thick paper with a beautiful print quality; this book is recommended not only for Leica fans, but for all readers interested in the history of photograpy and it’s most iconic images.

  • Eyes Wide Open! | Augen Auf!
    Language: English | German
    ISBN: 978-3-86828-523-9
    Article numbers: 97073 (EN) I 97072 (DE)


  • Documentary and social photography

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