The Winner(s) of the Great Leica M9 Contest – Official!


Heidi Klum and Rankin have looked over the top 15 that I e-mailed to them and picked not only the grand prize winner of the M9 but the 2nd place winner of the Leica V-Lux 20. They also picked a third place winner and Seal donated yet another prize for a third place bonus prize!


Brian Wytcherley, Shuangliu, Chengdu China – “Shortage of rural doctors in China’s Yunnan province”

Congrats to Brian for his amazing story portrayed in the two images above. You are the winner of the Leica M9!!

Rankin and Heidi looked over all images and this was the #1 pick.

Here is what Rankin had to say about this set:

“I love the photographer’s ability to capture the sense of loss and the raw emotion that comes with losing someone. It would be impossible to look as this and not be touched by the boy’s feelings of immense grief.”


Jonathan Cook – “Guy Jones – My Arm Was My Pillow”

Congratulations Jonathan! You are the winner of the Leica V-Lux 2! Thanks to Leica Camera for donating this awesome prize!

Here is what Rankin had to say about this set:

“When I look at this image, I want to know more about the subject. His face and hands are bursting with emotion, and these images could tell a thousand stories”


Helene Marie Pambrun – “Some scars can’t be hidden”

Congrats to Helene! Heidi liked your image so much that we decided to add a third place bonus prize as a cool surprise. Seal has donated a new Luigi case for a Leica M9. This case comes with strap, and SD card holder. This is a top of the line case for a digital M and even if you do not own an M9 now, save the case for when you do!

Coming next week – A brand new contest with a pretty high in demand prize donated by ~6.  Thanks to Seal, Heidi, Rankin and! I want to personally congratulate all of the 15 finalists as you were all FANTASTIC. The decision on the top two was not an easy one. Anyone could have won this one!

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  1. Steve, Seal, Heidi & Rankin,
    A big thanks to you all for inspiring me to do a lot of research and go out on a mission to shoot for the contest. I spent many evenings studying photos. I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

    Congratulations to the winners


    • I just found out that my son Brian has won this contest. Wow! He never even told me he had entered. He has worked so hard and is so passionate about his work. I am so happy for him and so proud!

  2. Steve, You should be proud of what you have accomplished with this contest! The winners have made remarkable contributions.

  3. My congratulations to the winners. The winner of the M9 was also my favorite, but the hight quality of art from all participants was amazing.

    A big thank you to `6, Heidi, Rankin and of course Steve for making this contest possible.

  4. ‘6,
    do you develop your own film?
    I have recently gotten into film and have been having trouble with my developing, the shots seem to have a lot of White specs on them and your film images look so nice and clean.
    Any help you can offer is appreciated.
    Also, it was a very generous thing for you to donate an M9 for tuis wonderful contest.


  5. Great competition! Had a lot of fun! Bravo to the winners.
    Much thanks to Steve who had the stamina to inspect such an amazing quantity of photos
    and had the heart to make a choice.

  6. My congratulations go the winners, especially the winner of the M9. May you enjoy using the M9 — don’t forget to let us see what you will have taken with it.

  7. Congratulations to the winners!
    Now I just want to know how I will able to win an M9 camera and a Leica lenses that I would like to add to MY set.

  8. My favorite story won, excellent work Brian and well chosen by the judges.
    Great competition Steve, it’s been great fun waiting, looking, judging, reading all the comments both good and bad. Well done for keeping your cool when controversy struck and stuck to your guns, nice one!
    Thanks again to Steve and Seal.

  9. Congrats to the winners! Wish I had a chance to swing my “inner China”. Been stuck eyes deep in project sh*t. 🙂 But if the next contest is as interesting as the 2-pix one, then damn if I am going to miss it.

    Congrats again.

    • Oops, I meant “swing by”. Stuck on the more developed coastal side. 😉 Still its just an excuse of not having a well developed “photographer’s eye” (or nose or ears!). 🙂

  10. “He told me to completely ignore the Leica documentation and simply turn the shutter speed dial to the flash symbol and flick the switch on the flash unit to ttl”

    Thanks for this very practical advice ~6!!! I will take my SF24D out of the cupboard and give it a try again following your/Ken’s suggestion!

  11. Congrats to all of the winners. All are very well deserved, and I am thrilled by how well the process went! A huge thank you to Seal, Heidi, Rankin, and of course, Steve, for putting this marvel of a contest together. Speaks volume about you all as quality people of the highest regard….if there’s anything that I can ever do for y’all (free medical advice…hahah), let me know. I am proud of you all. Your love for your fellow photographer makes the world a better place, and I am glad to help any small way!

    Best to you all!

  12. ‘Mr 6 – those are some wonderful snaps from the Oscar night! I don’t know if you will ever come to Hong Kong but it would be my great pleasure to take you on a photo tour in my city.

    Congratulation to the Winners!

  13. Congratulations to all! Seeing this after a long day at work put a big smile on my face! Thank you Steve for creating such a positive little place we can escape to, and thank you Seal, Heidi and Rankin!

  14. Congrats to the winners and the stressed runner up… Wow! an M9, sweet. Now let’s wait for them to come out with a 18K body, the titanium one might en-up in a contest….just a joke… thanks for holding this entertaining contest and kudos to Seal for his toughtful gesture…

  15. Wow…it worked!

    Okay, so now I’ve figured out how to use this thing, here are three more.

    The first is of Lyor Cohen and I at a Grammy lunch in B. Hills. It was taken with the MP Titan and Ilford HP5. I used the New 35 Lux that came with the M9 Titan

    The second is a self-portrait or at least my idea of one. If you look towards the lower right corner there is a portrait of me taken by one of the most famous English photographers..David Bailey who incidentally charged my wife a sh*t load of money for this print which I find ridiculous seeing as it’s me in the @#% picture. Personally I wouldn’t have bothered but she was intent on getting it and I’ve learned to pick my battles in marriage. This image is with the MP Titan, and Neopan 400. I can’t remember the lens I used, it was either the 0.95 or the 50 Lux.

    The last one is taken with the MP Titan and the 0.95 wide open using my favorite (unfortunately now discontinued) film stock ‘Neopan 1600’. It’s at our favorite sushi restaurant.



  16. Hi All,

    A little off topic but somebody noted that I had my M9 Titan with me on Oscar night and asked if I’d post a couple of images from it on the site. So I thought that this might be a good opportunity to try out Steve’s new image upload thingy. Here are a couple of two dear friends of mine, Richard Young who is a celebrity photographer and is pretty much the only photographer that is allowed inside these events to frame as he wishes. Both my wife and I have known him for as long as I’ve been in the business, he’s a lovely guy (he’s English after all 😉 and a fellow Leica user. The other male in the image is an old friend I hadn’t seen for years (one of the most enjoyable reasons for going to these events…you see people you haven’t seen in years)..the great Gary Oldman.

    The other image is with Richard and my wife. Another reason I posted these is because I took them with the Leica SF 24D which is the M flash unit that no one I know uses including myself. I knew it would be dark in there and didn’t want to take the 0.95, even though I knew it could handle it people just don’t look great under this kind of light. So I called the Jedi Ken Hansen who knows more about gear than anyone can wag a stick at and asked him for his advice in using the flash unit. He told me to completely ignore the Leica documentation and simply turn the shutter speed dial to the flash symbol and flick the switch on the flash unit to ttl.

    These are straight out of camera with nothing done to them at all, as Steve will tell you, that is pretty much my way of doing things. I try not to spend time tweaking in front of the computer and prefer to do everything in camera like we used to do with film. I still use film more than anything else which is probably why I work this way.

    Anyway, no great works of art but I thought you might find it interesting to see what can be done with that flash unit and very little knowledge of flash photography. What’s particularly encouraging is how the flash doesn’t blow out the highlights which I admit may be in part due to my preference of shooting on the back curtain but again I know nothing about flash photography so it’s a guess.
    The third image is of Gary and I.



    • After seeing Heidi’s dress in the daily pic, I’m impressed that the flash didn’t make it look like a 70’s disco ball! Thank you for all your contributions. Joe

    • Nice that he cut off half of your head. Actually it works well to show our height. Great set of photos. The flash doesn’t look extreme.Maybe I have to buy one. How did you and Heidi get your cameras into such an event without having them hang around on the red carpet?

      • I’m not quite sure what you mean. If you mean ‘how did we get our cameras into such an event’ because they wouldn’t normally allow people with cameras in the event, well I’m not quite sure how to answer that without appearing conceited. However if you mean ‘how did we get them in whilst we were being photographed on the red carpet’, we have people there who kindly take care of that for us.

        I’m not sure if that answers your question though. If it doesn’t, ping me a response explaining what you meant and I’ll try to best explain.


        • Yes, the second answer is what I was looking for. Totally makes sense that someone else carries your stuff. Heidi took an image at the Oscars and I was wondering where she keeps her camera. I am pretty sure they would let you both walk in there with a 300mm lens without questioning. 😉 BTW It would be great if you could write a short article here on Steve’s site about your experience with the M9T. I bet that not many owners actually use them in the field. I am curious if it feels and handles exactly like the standard M9 or if creates a different experience. Thank you for answering my question. I really appreciate it. D!RK

    • Great shots 6! Looks like a fun night on the town 🙂 Great results with the flash. I haven’t experimented much with it yet but need to. BTW, loved the shot of you and Sir Ben over on PicOrTwo today. That must have been a great conversation.


  17. Congratulations, Brian! Your story was so powerful because it was real, not staged. Congrats too to Jonathan and Helene. I look forward to seeing more of your work on this website. Enjoy your prizes!

  18. Fantastic choice! Congrats to winners and all who participated. I enjoyed being a part of it. Last but not least: thanks to Steve and Seal!

  19. Congrats to all the winners! Very well-deserved. Brian, I look forward to seeing more of your project. Jon, your story was very touching and I’m sure, very helpful to the homeless. Helene, your story is very artistic and strong in its message. All of you guys could express pain and emotion very strongly and gracefully at the same time. Great stories!

    Thanks to Steve, Seal, Heidi and Rankin! Such a great contest that could stir so much inspired effort! Thanks to all the participants!

    Yeah, let’s do another one!

    Greg Shanta

  20. Congrats to all the winners and all contestants as well. Thanks to Steve, Seal, Heidi, Rankin, Leica for the contest, prizes and participation.

  21. Congratulations to Winners!
    Many thanks to organizers for pushing us all into the field for hunting for a story!
    Challenges shape us better!
    Waiting for a next one 😉
    Artak (@artakv)

  22. Congratulations to all who have participated and extra happy for those who won the prizes. Thanks to both ~6 and Steve for putting this together and contributing so much, and thanks of course to Heidi and Rankin for their evaluation and for picking so well.

  23. As an aspiring photographer, I can truely say that this contest spawned so much creativity in my mind and uncovered a hidden passion. I am now working with several local artists and photographers in developing art work for my book. thanks all who played a part for the opportunity!

  24. Thanks to Seal and Steve for putting the contest together… to Heidi and Rankin for their judging…
    and Congrats to the winners. I’m completely jealous of you, Brian, for winning Seal’s M9, but only in the friendliest of ways 😉


  25. Congrats, Brian, on your win, with a fantastic pair of photos!
    Thanks to Steve,~6, Heidi and Rankin. This has been a blast to watch.

    In retrospect, I really noticed how I *didn’t* notice colors, clarity, exposure. It was truly all about emotion…!


  26. Seal, just so you know, your old baby will be in good hands.

    Thank you Heidi, Seal, Steve, Rankin, and all the others who contribute
    here and share the love of seeing. Except you frillypig! :p.

    And since I vaguely remember *someone* suggesting the winner post a follow up story done with the M9 of interest, I’ll agree to that if Steve likes the idea.
    I do want to say the two images I submitted for this are only the beginnings of a much larger project I’m starting on the Hani people of Yunnan province. I noticed some people read very deeply into these two pictures and took away differing ideas of what exactly was going on behind the scenes or in context of the title. That was alright, because regardless of that the relationship between these two images speaks accurately of a need for doctors in a place where few exist and life is fragile. I’m attempting to go in depth with this (unfortunately only when holidays away from teaching allow me) so I will be posting a detailed story and captions on my website as things progress. BTW congratulations Jon and Helene! You did a fine job. Thank you

  27. Congratulations to the winners!
    Great entries!

    Thanks very much – Steve, Seal, Heidi, Rankin, Leica and everyone who participated.
    It’ been great fun, let’s do it more often, yeah!

    No wonder this is the BEST photography related site in the whole wide world! 🙂

    Makes me happier everytime I visit.

    And I’m really looking forward to having another contest!

    Big thanks again!

  28. Congratulations and so many thanks to Steve, ~6, Leica (for supporting this) ..and, of course, to the judges! ..And congratulations to all of the inspired photographers who sent in their story shots! ..Congratulations for just going out and shooting and DARING!

    And to Brian, Jonathan and Helene Marie, for choosing a subject, a lens, a point of view, for *emotion*! So many of these photos were of emotions, just showing that cameras don’t simply taken pictures of objects or people or ‘things’ ..cameras take pictures of *feelings*.

    Congratulations to everyone who dared and took part!

  29. Brian congratulations! Excellent narrative! Well deserved recognition for your stunning submission. I also wish the same to Jonathan and Helene. Additionally, thank you; Steve, Seal, Heidi, Rankin, the Leica representative(s) and Aswin for all his or her respective offerings in making this contest a reality. Lastly, Steve, your work in fostering a community of individuals that appreciate photography is to be commended. Creating a place where “shop talk” (i.e. f-stops, ISO, etc.) can meld with deep discussions about art, humanity, etc., is just amazing and you are to be appreciated for making this community a reality.

  30. hats off to the winners! and of course, those who administered and donated their time and possessions for this incredible contest. bravo!

    perhaps, steve or seal can talk sebastiao salgado out of his titanium M9 for the next one.

    here’s to hoping.

  31. Congrats to the winners, and thanks to Steve, Seal, Heidi, Rankin.

    Great job everyone, what a load of fun!

  32. Congrats to the winners and thank you Steve, Seal, Heidi and Rankin! Participating and watching all these entries have been inspiring…big time! 🙂

  33. Congratulations to all the winners! The photos were worthy of their rewards. Thank you Steve and Seal for the opportunity you gave to so many of us who enjoy the art of photography. When I looked at the winning photos I realized how unworthy my pictures were to be in this competition but I enjoyed it. I know 10 years ago I would have been more competitive for but now I live in an area so isolated it is hard too find good images to shoot. The weather here is very harsh this time of year, we’ve had close to 200″ of snow and I have 2 bad knees that keep me inside most of the Winter. Perhaps I will do better in the next competition. Again, Good Choices and a job Well Done”

  34. Wow! Congrats to the winners! Well, done. Well done, and well deserved, indeed! I was just pleased to have made it to the final 15, which I did not even expect. Seal, Steve, Heidi and Rankin: Huge thanks to you guys for an amazing contest! Happy shooting to Brian Wytcherley and Jonathan Cook; and, to Helene: May you soon have an M9 to partner with that awesome new Luigi case.

    Best regards, and sincere thanks for the chance to be part of this;

  35. Congrats on all the winners! The M9 winner deserved it with that shot 🙂 I just hope it wasn’t frillypig

  36. Congratulations to all the winners – they were all worthy images and I did vote for one of them !

    Great competition Steve Heidi Seal and Rankin

    Many thanks

    Roy Strutt

  37. Congrats to the winners, Steve, Seal, Heidi and Rankin. It takes real effort to put something lime this together and proves the adage that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Great result! Bring on the next competition and I can’t agree with Seal more. Stop worrying about gear and get out and shoot. A new toy makes you happy for a few weeks but a great shot you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

  38. Thanks Seal for giving so many people the chance to earn a fantastic prize. Thanks Steve for the number of hours you’ve put into this competition. Congrats to the winners and everyone else who got something else out of this, whether it was learning some new techniques or newfound pride in your hobby after putting in thought and time to deliver a competition entry. Being my first competition, I know I did.

  39. As with the academy awards in movies, it can never be a purely jolly, fun, uplifting image that wins big. It is usually imagery depicting sadness, agony, hardship of some sort that earns most praise. I feel like we all could use a more positive influences in our lives. 🙂

    Congratulations to the winners!

  40. Congrats to everyone who took part. A great competition, looking forward to actually entering the next one!

  41. Congratulations to the winners!!! These 3 are truly amazing photographs, but the #1 pick really blows your mind! The raw emotion captured in those two photographs is heart-wrenching – no wonder it came in at #1!

    Also, congratulations to Steve Huff for successfully holding this contest and allowing us to participate! And to Seal, your generosity knows no bounds – thank you!!!

  42. I’m in total agreement on the winner selected. Fantastic story telling!! Well deserved Brian.

    I’m wondering if ~6 now realizes he has an empty slot in his collection. Mmmm…..what to replace the M9 with? Always room for more. 🙂

    Steve, congratulations on a successful contest!


  43. yeah, brian, great…

    enjoy your new “toy” and show us your first pictures 😉
    greetings from cologne, germany


    ps: greetings and congrats to jonathan and helene too…

  44. Congrats! to all the winnners, especially to Brian. Thanks to Steve, Seal, Rankin and Heidi. Looking forward to see some more cool contests.

    Saša Gagić

  45. Congratulations to the winners! What a spectacular time it was since day one when the contents was announced!

    Steve, Seal, Heidi and Rankin thanks guys! Looking forward for another contents!


  46. Congratulations to everyone. I think it was really courageous of all those who entered. There are some people who talk about it, then some who just go out and do it! I cannot speak for Steve obviously but I think that the main purpose of this exercise was to get all of us to stop talking gear (just for a minute) and to focus on our collective first love….the art of photography. In that respect I think we all achieved that and had a great time in the process.

    Steve, I want to say cheers to you for running this competition and all of the hard work you do. People here may not necessarily be aware of what you do behind the scenes to make this site possible. Whenever I call you, you are ALWAYS working on it and yet you still find time to make it out to L.A for things like my B’day party. You are a true friend and I love you for being you.

    Thank you Rankin for everything you continue to do and for being the great photographer that you are. When I grow up I want to be just like you.

    Heidi, thanks baby.


    • Thanks 🙂

      I am thrilled how this all went down and am ecstatic that so many were involved with it. You guys went out there every day searching for a story and got their creative mind working. Those 30 days of shooting time for the contest had over 1300 of you guys out there thinking not of the gear but of photography just as ~6 says, and that was wonderful.

      Well, most of you WERE thinking of the M9 grand prize of course, but you shot with what you had and made it work. I congratulate you ALL for participating!

      ~6, This was a great contest but would have never happened if it were not for you so once again I thank you for the ideas, the prize, the support, the phone calls, the friendship and the kind words. YOU are a true friend and it was my pleasure to get to LA for your B’day! Was great to see you and all the guys. I love ya right back!

      I do not know Rankin personally but THANK YOU for helping with the contest!! Also a huge thanks to Heidi for her help in judging as well. I know the days are busy for all of you guys so taking the time to help with this contest was amazing 🙂 THANK YOU!

      I also want to thank Leica Camera for donating the V-Lux 2 as the 2nd prize. That was pretty cool of them to do.

      ALL entrants – THANKS for participating! How about we do it again REALLY soon?

    • `6 and Steve, thank you both for this contest. Personally, this contest helped me “just do it,” and get out there and shoot. Did I have time to execute the ideas I really wanted to? Well, no, but that doesn’t matter. What’s important is it got me outside with camera in hand, and feeling motivated and inspired. And even better, looking at the finalists and some of the other entrants has provided me with more inspiration. There was some truly outstanding work done by the folks who entered this contest.
      Thank you both, again, and I hope you both found this rewarding for yourselves as well.

  47. Congrats to all!! I really enjoyed the wonderful stories and the experience of the contest. Big thanks to Steve & Seal for the opportunity. Regards

  48. Congratulations to the winners and thank you so much Steve and Seal for putting on the contest!

    I felt strongly the contest was to tell a complete story with just the two pictures, without anymore back story to your photographs other than your “topic”, so I refrained from posting the story behind my pictures until now. If you would like to read it, I have posted it just now on my blog.

    Thank you also to so many who emailed their support and said such nice things about my work here on the forum. Spreading joy through my photography is very important to me, and through such wonderful responses I know that I accomplished that.

    • Great story. Congrats on the finals and on Ruby, you’d already won before the contest. ;-).

      This contest was a series of acts of great generosity and commitment: of time and talent and things. Steve, Seal, Heidi, Rankin, Leica, and finalists/winners; well done all.


      • GG — I feel that way too — Ruby!

        Any time I can capture a slice of our life with my camera and my pen, I feel as though I am giving my self something amazing that cannot be bought. Getting out there and shooting for such a fun purpose was the gift, and unwrapping the story that unfolded was my true present in the end.

        Thanks again for your words,

        Ann-Marie Hensley

  49. Awesome. I like all three a lot. Congratulation. Would be nice to learn more about the back-stories of these images. D!RK

  50. Congratulations to Brian, and all the winners! Thanks to Steve, Seal, Rankin, and Heidi for this great contest.

  51. Congrats to the winners! I’m it complete agreement with 1st place. A very impressive pair of photos. Pats on backs all round I’d say.

  52. Congrats to the winners! That was GREAT contest to take part in and than to follow.

    Thanks Heidi, Seal, Rankin and Steve!

    BTW, I really enjoy the pics taken by you Heidi, which land in my mailbox from time to time 🙂

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