LFI: You have used a variety of cameras over your long career. What is it you appreciate about Leica?
Alfredo Cunha: I have indeed worked with countless cameras, but I always had one or two Leicas. The first was a Leica M3, in 1972. I've worked with the M3, M2, M6, and M7. I've also worked with the Leicaflex SL, because of its long focal length. Leica cameras are sturdy and they have fantastic optic quality - they are a work tool, but, at the same time, they have also become an extension of my eye. Of course, the lightness and discretion of the M cameras, and now of the Q2 Monochrome, weigh a lot in my preference for these cameras. Besides the Q2 Monochrome, I nowadays use a micro 4/3 camera with Leica Prime lenses - e.g. Summilux 12mm 1.4, Nocticron 42.5 1.2, and also a 100/400 zoom. I love extreme focal lengths - wide lenses and long focal lengths.
What is your opinion of digital photography?
I don't distinguish between analogue and digital; they're becoming closer. The technique is not important; the resulting image is what matters. I appreciate the democratisation brought on by digital photography. It has allowed the emergence of many new young photographers.
What advice do you have for young photographers today?
Work, never give up, fight for your photos, and have your own identity. This generation of photographers is probably the most well-prepared of all times. But it is also the most poorly-treated.
What is your greatest photography-related wish?
I wish to continue photographing. And I hope that photojournalism survives. We are living terrible times, especially in Portugal - the economy is suffering a lot. Despite this, I hope that the new generation of photographers is as happy in their career as I am.
Your new book, 'Leica Years', offers fabulous insight into your life's work. Do you have plans for your huge archive?
I've donated sizeable collections to the Portuguese National Photography Collection (in CPF - Centro Português de Fotografia,) and to the photo archive in Lisbon's Municipal Archive. I also have a fund in Maia, with about 1000 photos in several exhibitions circulating around the country.
Even though you have been retired from active photojournalism for some years, there is no sign of retirement...
Yes, I take photos every day. I work every day.
We look forward to further photo books and exhibitions! Thank you very much for your time.
(Interview: Ulrich Rüter)
Issue 5/2021 of LFI Magazine includes a longer interview and comprehensive portfolio.
The Leica Blog recently presented Cunha's Hope series, from spring 2020.