It is an ambitious project in a comparatively small place: Constance, university town and tourist destination, with a population of only 86,000, on the shores of the Bodensee (or Lake Constance in English), is growing into a Mecca for lovers of photography and Leica aficionados in particular.
In addition to two existing photographic retailers, a Leica Store opened May 4. It will be complemented by a Leica Galerie from May 17. And a photo studio, Flashfactory, also offers its services and is based on the same premises, a 19th-century castle-styled building in the historic town centre.
Two men of high repute are behind the concept of the Licht Bild Hof, or Light-Picture-Close in Constance. The one is Andrea Scavini from Switzerland, a long-established photographer responsible for many significant projects. The other is Markus
The Leica Store is already open, and the first day of its existence underlined the seriousness of the project.
On opening day visitors were attracted by the signature black-and-red cabinets containing such goodies as the 75mm Noctilux, a beautiful silver 28mm Summilux, a black 28mm Summaron and a 90mm Thambar in addition to regular M, L and S and compact products.
At his old premises, a ten-minute stroll past the Constance Minster and a wonderful display of medieval merchants’ homes,
Constance is definitely worth a visit if you are in southern Germany. Six hundred years ago, between 1414 and 1418, it hosted the Council of Constance, a conclave which served to unify the Church for the following century — until a certain Martin Luther reportedly nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Schlosskirche.
The old town miraculously avoided destruction in the two world wars, thanks in large part to its situation directly on the border with neutral Switzerland. It has remained intact and essentially unchanged since then. It is a picturesque location to delight any photographer. But now the street photography can be enhanced with a touch of self-indulgent GAS acquisition.
The Leica Gallery opens on May 17 with an exhibition by Anatol Kolle. This portrait photographer has an excellent reputation, not only in Germany but throughout the world. His work is centred on the question of
English, she is spoken here
The staff at the new Leica Store and Gallery, as well those as at Lichtblick, all speak English. This is also the case at the third Leica retailer in town, Hepp & Hepp, a family optician’s business which carries on the old association between optics and photography.
All the stores are well placed to serve an international clientele, and are versed in tax-refund procedures for non-EU customers. Strangely, though, Switzerland, outside the EU, has always been the main hinterland of Constance, with its almost peninsula-like lakeside setting next to the Swiss border. Zurich Airport is just one hour away by train.
The wider area with Lake Constance and the nearby Alps offers a lot more to visitors, but the Leica folk might find enough inspiration, distraction – and maybe also seduction – in the town of Constance itself.
Lichtblick, an amazingly
The Leica Store and Leica Gallery is in the oldest part of the town centre, the Niederburg. Despite the postal address being St.-Johann-Gasse, the entrance is actually in Gerichtsgasse. The store locations are separated by a ten-minute walk trough the pedestrian area. Both districts are close to the main railway station and the harbour. The car ferry over the lake is a short drive or journey by public transport.
Hepp & Hepp is situated on Marktstätte at No.9. It is mainly an optician’s business, but, apart from glasses, it also offers photo gear, including Leica M- and L-Mount products, and a beautiful selection of binoculars of all the high-end brands.