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The Macallan Masters of Photography

Meeting Elliott Erwitt by Leica’s Robin Sinha

Leica Akademie Tutor, Robin Sinha shares his account of meeting Elliott Erwitt, the world’s most influential living photographer and reflects on his chance to capture his icon’s character...

 "On hearing Elliott Erwitt's name muttered in a conversation, my ears suddenly pricked up. It seems like a very long time ago that I first came across his work while studying for my photography degree. Back then, I never would have believed that one day I would be taking this iconic photographer's portrait. 

 News of Elliott Erwitt visiting the Leica Store Mayfair for a special event with The Macallan was met with huge excitement and disbelief: 'So Elliott Erwitt, the legendary Magnum photographer who worked alongside Henri Cartier-Bresson (often cited as the father of photojournalism), will ACTUALLY, PHYSICALLY be coming to the Leica Store Mayfair?!?'  Working as the Leica Mayfair Akademie Tutor, I was asked whether I would be available to take some photographs of the special event and perhaps take a portrait of Elliott himself. I didn't have to be asked twice! 

 On the day of the event, I arrived at the Akademie just after 2pm. There was already a queue of journalists forming at the door. Clara, a Leica colleague, whispered, "He's in there", pointing to the main Akademie room. I unsubtly shuffled past the door and, sure enough, Elliott was in there munching on some fruit. The team from The Macallan warned that he was rather tired after travelling from Paris, and that there may not be an opportunity to take a portrait. Remaining ever hopeful, the adjacent studio was set up. After Elliott had finished his interviews, he stood up, wrapped his scarf around his neck and started heading towards the door. My heart sank before one of The Macallan team swiftly asked, 'Would you mind posing for a couple of quick photos?’ to which Elliott replied, 'Sure, why not?!'. Elliott was in good spirits and was happy to see me using a Leica! I had chosen to shoot with the Leica S as its medium format qualities would ensure top-notch resolution. My one hope was that I could capture his sense of humour. 

 The evening event, held in the Leica Studio-S, featured a private view of Elliott's photographs shot for the 'Masters of Photography' project. I had been tasked with documenting the event while sporadically e-mailing off photos for live uploads. For this job, I opted to shoot with the Leica M, following in the footsteps of Elliott and Henri themselves! Its silent and discreet nature made it ideal for weaving through the crowd and picking off shots of guests enjoying The Macallan's exquisite refreshments. Towards the end of the night, I managed to have a few words with Elliott and he happily agreed to sign my book. A fantastic end to an unforgettable day. 

The Leica Akademie operates internationally offering a unique collection of educational workshops that inspire creativity and strengthen photographic skills. Open to photographers of all levels, you can choose one-on-one sessions or intimate group workshops. 

 Feeling inspired by Robin? Grab your camera, capture the character of your land and enter our Masters of Photography competition.  Why not reward yourself with ‘The Elliott’ cocktail? In a whisky tumbler simply stir in The Macallan Amber with 20ml of Bols Dry Orange and a dash of barrel aged bitters and enjoy.

In addition to the United Kingdom, Leica Akademies can be found in Australia, North America, Russia and Southeast Asia. Further locations will be announced soon.

For more information, please visit:

Mario Testino

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