Inaugural visit to Leitz Park, in Wetzlar, Germany

By Gilles Porte, AFC, and Vincent Jeannot, AFC

par Vincent Jeannot, Gilles Porte

[ English ] [ français ]

From 15-17 June 2018, Leica Camera AG celebrated the opening of the new Leitz Park, in Wetzlar (Germany) with many guests from the region and around the world. Gilles Porte and Vincent Jeannot represented the AFC, which was invited to attend, and here they recount their visit to the new complex, which is an important centre for the lens industry, combining research, art, and culture.
Andreas Kaufmann annonce le changement de nom de CW Sonderoptic pour Leitz Cine Weltzar - Photo Vincent Jeannot
Andreas Kaufmann annonce le changement de nom de CW Sonderoptic pour Leitz Cine Weltzar
Photo Vincent Jeannot

Leica invited the AFC to attend the inauguration of Leitz-Park in the small town of Wetzlar, nearby Frankfurt. Over a weekend, we hobnobbed with over a thousand guests from all over the world while we discovered an astonishing architectural complex and where we especially learned that the CW Sonderoptic brand was changing its name and would now be known as Leitz Cine Wetzlar, a tribute to Ernst Leitz, who created the Leica camera a century ago.

Le premier Leica, utilisant la pellicule 35 mm - Photo Vincent Jeannot
Le premier Leica, utilisant la pellicule 35 mm
Photo Vincent Jeannot

Impossible not to mention the exceptional visit of the lens manufacturing workshops, with Ulrich Schröder – an employee of Leitz for over 40 years – as our guide. We felt a bit as though we were in a Rolls Royce factory or inside of an ultra-modern operating theatre as, through glass windows, we observed technicians handling lenses with white gloves, masks, cosmonaut-style shoes, and surgical bonnets.

Ulrich Schröder - Photo Gilles Porte
Ulrich Schröder
Photo Gilles Porte

Tommaso Vergallo and Gerhard Baier gave us an extremely warm welcome.

Germans are so good at archiving and showing off history – in this case, a history to which the world of photography owes so much !

Beneath a magnificent print of a still of Mohammed Ali, we met Kees van Oostrum, the president of the ASC, who reminded us how much he appreciated the AFC’s invitation a year ago.

In front of Nelson Mandela, who is looking out from in between the bars of his little prison cell on Robben Island, we discussed with Louis-Philippe Capelle, SBC, who told us that the AFC was more than welcome to become a part of Imago once again.

In front of the face of the little girl burnt by napalm who is running naked towards the photographer, we met Stephen Pizello, the editor-in-chief of the American Cinematographer who was focusing on an imaginary target.

Pensive in front of the portrait of Che Guevara (the most reproduced image in the world), it was impossible not to spend an instant with the very charismatic Ed Lachman, ASC, whose presence magnified the entire event.

Technology can be so beautiful when it is at the service of moments such as these, and in the hands of men and women who know how engaging a simple glance can be.

Members of the AFC present at the inauguration of Leitz Park : Richard Andry, Rémy Chevrin, Patrick Duroux, Vincent Jeannot, Gilles Porte.

(Translated from French by Alexander Baron-Raiffe)