Photos & Words: Todd Glaser
One Camera, one lens. A simple concept once reserved for my wildest dreams. Henri Cartier-Bresson was famous for it—roving the world with his trusty Leica, 50mm lens, a bag of film, and a passport full of stamps.
With next to nothing in his bag, he made portraits and captured snapshots of everyday life with the most simplistic setup imaginable. Cropping images wasn’t an option—aside from very few images over the course of his career—and this man coined the term ‘decisive moment’.
My reality is far from Bresson’s. I typically lug over 100 pounds of gear, and the idea of chasing a swell with one camera and one lens only leads me to dwell over every imaginable mishap. Still, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. For the past decade or so, I have been fortunate enough to travel the world chasing waves. I’ve made soon to be lifelong friends, documented my journeys and weathered sunburns of the cruelest degree from around the globe. What started with a hand-me-down hobby has developed into a healthy addiction. Photography has been both a blessing and a curse, but ultimately it is the most rewarding practice for me. It has given me access to places I never thought I’d see, and taught me more than I can describe.
This story wasn’t supposed to be about my foray into photography, but about a trip to Italy with my wife. Since we never took a proper honeymoon following the wedding, we packed up for Italy one year later on a trip I soon realized was my first real “vacation” in quite possibly…ever. Italy seemed like the obvious choice for a number of reasons. Neither of us had been, swell wasn’t a factor, and let’s face it; we wanted to eat gelato all day. We agreed to maximize mobility by only bringing carry on luggage, which meant I had some serious decisions to make regarding gear. It’s not uncommon for photographers to spend more time with their cameras than with our loved ones, but on this trip, I wanted to experience Italy with my own two eyes instead of through a variety lenses. As a result, I decided to bring one camera, (a Leica m6) one lens, (a 35mm), and one type of film. Bresson would have been proud.
Over the course of two weeks we ventured through Rome, hiked the trails connecting the small coastal towns of Cinque Terre, rode bikes through the Tuscan hills, and wandered the streets of Florence at dark. All the while, my camera never left my side. Unlike a digital camera, film and lens limitations enabled me to focus on enjoying our trip, and when the moment was right, I’d snap a photo or two.
Between stuffing our faces and basking in the Mediterranean, a handful of film was shot, none of which was developed till well after coming home. Nearly a month had gone by when we first looked over the negatives, and as we recounted the memories, one thing stood out. The images maintained an overall aesthetic as a whole, something that doesn’t happen when your finger is frantically pounding the shutter of your digital camera in fear of missing something. Shooting with limitations was fun, exciting, and most importantly, allowed me to enjoy our time together while still creating memories. Below you’ll find a selection of images from our trip, which may best be enjoyed over a fresh batch of espresso.
Salute! – Todd and Jenna Glaser