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Since the photographer John MacDougall received 2nd prize at the German Rückblende photography competition, he has made the Leica Q given to him by Leica Camera AG his own. The first opportunity he had to use it came about on a trip to Rome, where he photographed all the places of interest, from the Vatican Museum to the Castel Sant'Angelo. We spoke about the camera and its use as a private note book.

What does the 2015 Rückblende prize mean to you?

Like most press photographers based in Germany, I take part in the Rückblende every year. The format is very straightforward, four photos per entrant, and for me, it’s an opportunity to see the work of my colleagues all over Germany gathered in an exhibition, and a catalogue. It’s also an opportunity to look back at the year that was, to take stock, to enjoy the immense variety and points of view expressed in every picture. It is of course a very pleasant reminder that the pictures we take day in and day out still have the capacity to move people – and the jury, of course.

Will you also use the Leica Q for your next reportage?

I‘ve already used the Q for an assignment and very much enjoyed it, but the unfortunate reality as a wire photographer, is that we need to deliver a certain variety on every assignment, and that means working with a tele, as well as a wide. I wish I could shoot all my assignments with a 28mm.

What is your first impression of the camera?

It’s the first time I shoot with anything else but my old manual, analogue SLR, and it's a whole different way of working. I like using film. I have to stop, take time, focus, wait for the moment. It is a form of meditation. With the Q, I was able to shoot whatever I saw: fleeting moments, light on a building, a crowd close up, movement.

When you work with so many pictures professionally, is it tougher to take photographs privately?

I almost always have a camera with me. It’s my notebook. When I'm off work, I usually shoot film. The film is processed, but I rarely scan negatives. The strips are stored, like ideas, impressions, memories. When I’m off work, I’m not constantly ‘looking’ for pictures, but sometimes, they find me. Taking photos ‘for the hell of it’ has always been my favourite past time. Having been a wire photographer for over 20 years certainly influences the ways I frame and shoot, and I would sometimes be happy to ‘unlearn’ what I know... Who knows, maybe someday I’ll manage.
Largo di Torre Argentina
In front of San Pietro
In front of the Castel Sant'Angelo
Vatican Museums
Statue of Giordano Bruno, Campo de’ Fiori

John MacDougall

MacDougall was born in Paris in 1965. After studying literature at New York University. he has worked for Agence France-Presse as a photo editor in Paris and Hong Kong, and since 1995 as a photographer in Jakarta, New Delhi and Berlin. It is already the second time within four years that MacDougall’s work was recognized by the Rückblende photo competition. In 2011 he won the first prize.

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