Leica Cameras Are Growing as a Status Symbol Among Celebrities

Wealthy people who want to flaunt their wealth are attracted to shiny and pricey things. It’s no surprise then, that more and more Hollywood celebrities are gravitating toward one particular brand for their photographic needs: Leica. Alex Williams of The New York Times writes that the stars aren’t simply adopting the revered marque — some are learning how to use it too:

“If celebrities are going to be seen with a camera, for better or for worse, Leica does lend a certain cachet,” said Michael Holve […] “It seems a Canon or Nikon is somehow bourgeois, or even pedestrian, by comparison.”

The swelling ranks of famous M-system devotees reach beyond those with a well-chronicled affection for the camera, like Brad Pitt. In recent years, Daniel Craig, Jude Law, Louis C. K., Miley Cyrus and many other celebrities have popped up in paparazzi shots toting Leicas.

[…] It is easy for cynics to sniff, but many Leica-toting celebrities take their photography seriously. Brendan Fraser, an aficionado, has had his work featured in the prestigious Leica Gallery in New York. And Mr. Pitt, who has appeared on the cover of Interview magazine holding a Leica M7, earns praise from photographers in Leica forums for his work, including a cover shoot of Angelina Jolie for W a few years ago.

Williams also makes the observation that the camera’s minimal features and manual controls naturally divide the celebrity owners into serious photo enthusiasts and posers.

Click if You Can Afford It [New York Times]

  • photomarcs

    What’s funny is the article link – the first picture is a Fujifilm X100, not a leica hahaha

  • 9inchnail

    Leicas are just nice cameras. I can’t afford one but if money wasn’t an issue, I’d get one. Size, weight and image quality are just in perfect balance. You might get better pictures with a 5D Mark III for half the money but you don’t wanna drag that thing around all the time. In a studio setting, I’d go with a DSLR, but “out in the field”, a Leica is propably a dream come true since they fit in every bag and are hardly noticeable when carrying them.

    They do have a hipster-poser-feeling to it, true. Still, I think they deserve the good reputation they have among photography purists.

    If I ever win the lottery, I’m gonna get one. Until then, prosumer DSLR it is.

  • Simon Meisinger

    maybe they changed it, but there was no X100 when i looked at it.

  • Anzoid

    The cynic (only sniffing because of a cold) in me wonders whether Brendan Fraser got into the Leica gallery because he’s a celebrity with a Leica and is thus free publicity and not for any artisitic merit. Then a quick search does turn up some photos of his photos though – – and they look rather good. Proceeds of sales also going to the Fireman’s Funds of NYFD.

  • Ricky

    This should be a surprise to no one. Go look at PP’s earlier post of the Leica Launch party. They are marketing towards the upper-class. Leica is a serious camera manufacture that makes the majority of its parts by hand, in house. On top of all of that, (though not all would agree…)they are willing to sacrifice functionality for styling.

  • Henning Nilsen

    Absolutely. Seal has been presenting Leica products and been featured by them several times, but is his work any good.

    Family snapshots mostly. Celebrity status has a huge impact.

    The important thing is to not automatically discredit celebrities as talented photographers “just because they can afford a fancy camera”.

  • Brian

    I agree with you both. Brendan Fraser has some very nice black and white photos indeed. On the other hand, apart from the mediocrity of his pictures, I have seen Seal on his buddy’s website getting into arguments and making arrogant statements to other users about owning a Leica. It’s not classy at all.

  • 9inchnail

    Funny, Brendan Fraser was on Scrubbs, don’t remember his role exactly, but he was taking black and white portraits all the time in that episode. Maybe his idea?

  • 9inchnail

    I’m wondering if celebs are actually buying Leicas or if Leica provides them with free cameras to promote their stuff. I mean, it’s common knowledge that celebrities get their clothes and jewelry for free. They just have to drop the designer’s name once in a while. I could imagine Leica doing the same.
    One big shot celebrity being photographed with a Leica is a better promotion than a hundred thousand dollar ad campaign.

  • Henning Nilsen

    They buy them. You think Leica would willingly part with potential income? I think not.

  • 9inchnail

    As I said, give a celebrity a camera (6000 bucks) and your brand will be more popular than any ad campaign could accomplish. It’s just more subversive and therefore more effective. Celebrities can afford any damn camera they want. If they have a Leica, it must be the best. Why would Leica not use that effect?

  • G

    True. To not invest in advertising is also lost “potential income”. Not sure they use celebrities in marketing though..

  • yerg

    i saw some louis c.k. work on his blog when he went on a uso tour in iraq a few years back. some of it was actually pretty good, even better since he was still using film.

    anyway, just my two cents.

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  • Anton Berlin

    In other news, the rich also prefer exotic cars, expensive wine and jewelry and designer fashions.

  • Anton Berlin

    Anyone want to come to my one woman celebrity show, “50 shades of Black” ?