Grampa’s Leica Camera

It’s March 29 and Colorado continues to get great snow.  Here’s a shot from yesterday morning in the parking lot after an evening that crushed.

Parking Lot - 3/28/11

We got more of the same this morning although slightly less accumulation and 14 degrees at 8am under shockingly blue skies.

Blue Skies Over Red Sandstone Mountain

I was riding chair 36 out of Blue Sky Basin yesterday, catching my breath after some deep turns made possible thanks to the spring storm that hit the valley.

March 28th Turns - Blue Sky Basin

The storm was still dumping snow as I rode the chair, creating an ethereal atmosphere for my solo ride along the spine of the back bowls.  The mountain silence and the soft, slow hum of the chairlift was broken only by the anonymous shouts of skiers and riders unable to control their excitement playing in the fresh.

Chair 36 - Vail

I usually have a small point and shoot or camera phone with me on the mountain for snapshots like most of the ones in this post.  As I was gently lifted higher and higher into the storm, I reached for my phone and suddenly remembered the photo of my grandfather below.  We never had a chance to meet but I’m told we share a lot of the same qualities.

Stuart with Leica

Along with the super awesome pipe, he’s carrying his Leica camera.  Decades after his death, in an olive green army trunk in the barn at my mother’s house, I unearthed a large collection of his Kodachrome slides and B&W negatives, a portion of which was shot in Germany just after WWII ended.  The Kodachrome’s on the lightbox are so vivid it feels like you’re peering through tiny windows into the past.


I’m amazed to see how similar his images of the Black Forest are to some of the ranges I’ve seen here in Colorado.  My grandfather was a munitions officer in the US Army not a professional photographer.  But some of his images, including family portraits, show clear signs of his innate talent.  One of my favorites is of my grandmother wearing a handkerchief.

Portrait of Alice

I can’t help wondering if it’s possible that his passion for photography was somehow passed along to me through DNA.  Maybe.  But for reasons I can’t comprehend, photography called to me somewhere deep within.  And despite concerted efforts, I haven’t been able to shake it.

Northwoods - Vail, Colorado

I’m standing at the threshold of my professional career as a photographer and I’m beside myself with excitement thinking about the projects on my calendar over the coming months.  I think about photographers like Jarvis and Barash, Clinch and Ogden, Curtis and Cunningham who’s imagery and creative passion have had indelible impacts on me.   Did they feel like this once too?  I think about my grandfather and his Leica. And of course, I think about riding my Winterstick with a Nikon in my backpack, ready to begin this life I’ve envisioned.

Under 11