Leica has announced "a multi-faceted collaboration" with Facing Change: Documenting America, a non-profit collective of photographers and writers founded during the early days of the Obama administration to show America to Americans.
The deal, which echoes Leica's ongoing collaboration with Magnum Photos, will see Facing Change's photographers produce "a number of photographic projects" with help from the Germany-based camera manufacturer. Leica will also finance the production of a series of books and travelling exhibitions, and let Facing Change's photographers use and test Leica's latest and upcoming cameras.
Facing Change includes photographers David Burnett, Alan Chin, Danny Wilcox Frazier, Stanley Greene, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Andrew Lichtenstein, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Carlos Javier Ortiz, Lucian Perkins and Anthony Suau.
"Leica has always been closely linked with the names of the greatest photographers of our times. Many world famous photographs documenting history in the making were captured with Leica cameras," says Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the supervisory board at Leica. "It is therefore only natural that we have now entered into a collaborative venture with a group of photographers dedicated to documentary photography. We are very much looking forward to the joint projects and images that tell fascinating stories."
The projects will be featured online on Leica's and Facing Change's websites, as well as in Leica's LFI Magazine. Already, Leica has financed one such project by Alan Chin, who travelled to New York and the World Trade Center site to "portray the reactions of the crowd that spontaneously gathered after the killing of Osama Bin Laden was announced."
Leica will also produce multimedia essays that "highlight the personal journeys of the photographers as they travel and generate images using the latest Leica equipment, providing an opportunity to learn from the Facing Change photographers and share in their personal experiences."
The Facing Change collective was inspired by the Farm Security Administration's documentary programme of the 1930s. Speaking to BJP earlier this year, Suau explained that the collective is covering aspects of daily life that might ordinarily have slipped under the radar. "There is a huge frustration with traditional media" he said. "I hear it constantly when I'm working in the field. We felt we were going out and seeing things that were not being reported, or not being covered in the way that we felt was appropriate. More than that, it's no longer necessary to communicate down to the audience. Facing Change intends to communicate laterally."
Suau has, earlier this year, worked with Leica's S2 camera to shoot a project in Dearborn, Michigan. He photographed the Henry Ford Rouge steel factory "now owned and operated by a wealthy Russian company that is expanding and upgrading the factory," Suau wrote on the Facing Change blog on 13 May. Speaking about the S2 camera, Suau said: "I have to say up front that I consider this camera a landmark piece of photographic equipment that will revolutionize digital photography, or more to the point, photography in general."
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