Daily Inspiration #248 by Gage Caudell

Steve, I’ve been following you for a few years and have been intrigued by the Leica M9.  Last September my wife surprised me with the news of our first child.  After lugging around my Canon 5d Mk II for a few years I thought I was ready for a change.  My wife new of my interest in the Leica M9 and one week night we were sitting at home and I was doing a little research and found that amazon.com finally had “one left” of the black Leica M9.  Kiddingly, I mentioned this to my wife, expecting her to grin and tell me to keep hoping but instead she asked if I were to sell all my current camera gear, could I break even with a purchase of the M9 and a lens.  Before she could change her mind I did some calculations and explained to her that this could easily be done.  She agreed to the investment and since, the camera has not left my side.
Since buying the camera, my wife gave birth to a beautiful girl.  I think my wife knew back in September of last year, having the Leica M9 would allow us to create wonderful memories of our baby girl and that is why she allowed me to make the purchase.  I’ve been amazed by the quality of the images thus far and can’t imagine ever owning another camera.  Even though, she is only 9 weeks old, each time I look back at the pictures I’ve took, it takes me back to that very moment when my wife and baby girl stared at one another showing there true love and admiration for one another.  Because of this, I want to thank you Steve for allowing me to bring the Leica M9 into our world, it’s truly a blessing and will allow us to create many more future memories.
Gage M. Caudell
P.S.  You were such an inspiration, I started a blog back in May of this year at www.gagemphoto.com.  It contains many more pics of my wife and baby girl plus other photography interest of mine.


  1. Thanks again everybody for all your comments (I have read them all). If you like the pics I took of my wife and little girl, I posted a new pic on my site tonight called “Our Future @ 3 months”. Since birth I have taken monthly pictures of our little girl on our couch. It’s amazing how much she has grown!

    P.S. You can click on my name or the link above to get to the pics.

    Thanks again everybody and Steve thanks again for posting!!!!


  2. jason h – how about the old mastercard tagline? ‘leica m9? really expensive. a bundle of joy? priceless. there’s some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s mastercard’ 😉

  3. michiel – there you go mentioning the hassle of using slr (filmwise that is). ;D but it’s true, using film is a major pain in the arse nowadays. would love to preserve them into digital but most of the time, the shop’s scans are quite disappointing. bought a scanner myself but too lazy to do them as well. so much for diy studio. hahaha.

    well, as steve mentioned about the e-p3, it’s annoying that olympus didn’t build the viewfinder into the body itself. these lots surely know how to milk us consumers, don’t they? well, got to live with the evf as it is, since i do like the idea of using old lens on the e-p2. fast, cheap lens. what’s not to like?

    like you, i do hope to able to take pictures like what gage did. didn’t manage to get there, last time around. reason why i got back into photography again. need something to fill in the void, see? 🙂

    i’m malaysian, btw but picked the habit during my student days. you know, piss taking. hahaha. well, will be waiting to enjoy your pics then! cheers.

  4. Ta! that sounds like Northern England to me. A good place, good beer.

    Anyway, as I have mentioned before here I had the E-P2 with 1.7/20 for a while and was much impressed by it. The evf was necessary as I don’t like gazing at a display to frame a shot. But that evf really, in my experience, detracted from the practicality of the E-P2 (kept coming off when I didn’t want it to, etc etc), so I sold it to concentrate on my D700 and its primes. And of course my old film slrs, which are a joy to use but not very practical, what with all the hassle of getting films developed and then scanned properly.

    Duly challenged I just submitted some images to Steve. If he lets them through, I stand of course open to all sorts of criticism. It’s the images that count.



  5. wow. out of the way for 2 days and a war has started. yikes!

    i think most need to calm down a bit. there’s no point arguing which is better, or whether the reason is right or wrong.

    i don’t think what gage said is in anyway deriding the dslr system. he used them for quite a while. he also mentioned he need a change. there’s nothing wrong there, too. people go through that all the time in their life. it’s just that he’s attracted to a leica. the supercar of cameras.

    i always think the nikons/canons/pentaxs as those japanese rockets like mitsubishis, hondas etc. that we see on the road while the leica as those ferraris or porsche. one is quite affordable, does many things really well and in fact might be better than those marquee names, in certain condition. but lets be honest, everyone would like to have a ferrari in their porch, right? as i said previously, if you can afford it, go ahead.

    nothing michiel said was wrong either. i do know people who change cameras on a whim just because of trends. my big boss in fact, does that. he bought an m9 because someone told him it’s the best but left it in the cabinet most of the time. he got one simply because he can afford it. but who am i to argue with him,right? ;P

    still, none of this debate should have happened. i came in, weary of the world and pissed with my work and saw pictures of joyful occasions. they tell a beautiful story of life. if that’s not inspring enough, i don’t know what will. we have enough misery in the world without adding petty arguments about who’s right.

    i think we all know what has steve gone through in recent years. i don’t think any other photoblog would do what steve did, pouring his heart into something very sensitive to him and his life… this is not simply a leicacentric site or antidslr site. to me, this is a blog celebrating life, with cameras as the medium of recording. elitism or not, leica seems to be the major reason most of us are here. as do the evil system, on occasion. but hey, we all know that already, don’t we? ordinary pictures or not, each have a story behind it. some might like it, others don’t. again, it’s us being human.

    i won’t be quoting any old masters because i’m not incline to look at pictures as an artwork. but i look at them as preservation of memories. i record my own history. and since i’m a nobody, most are simply rubbish to a lot of people. yet, those rubbish are my treasure. so that when i’m a grumpy old granddad, i can force my grandchilds to listen about my wild and wicked story while showing them those same pictures. and that is a good enough reason to use whatever camera i choose. 🙂

    p.s. michiel, i do use the evf all the time. since i use them konica primes, it’s a hassle to focus using the screen. and i never got around the idea of framing using those screen as well. jumped from analog slr straight to the e-p2. quite a learning curve, i’d say. 😛

    also, steve, sorry about the long winded comment. if i said anything wrong, feel free to amend them. ta.

  6. Lovely shots and a very cute baby. You are collecting some very beautiful memories with your Leica.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Well. What can I say? Possibly nothing that would come over well to all readers of this blog. But just to explain myself, again or further, I (myself) enjoy using a D700 with primes (24, 35, 50, 85), one at a time, almost never carrying more than one, just the D700 with a prime and a Gordy’s wriststrap, on aperture priority. Perfectly doable.

    I have never in my life felt the need to justify whatever “thing”, “equipment” choice I made, be it a car, a racing bicycle, a motorbike or a camera or whatever, by critizing a previous choice. I tend to respect my own decisions with the necessary tongue-in-cheek nuance.

    And thanks Gage, for the kind words. Your images are lovely. I hope to be in a position where I can take that kind of picture myself in the near future.

    Steve, I’ll take your contribution as an invitation to send some images (taken with the D700). I’ll do so shortly, without a lengthy explanation.

    Cheers to all,


  8. Wow!!! I never realized I would see so many responses to my post? I expected to see a few responses stating “congrats” for my new addition but didn’t expect to see anyone disliking my post just because I switched from a dSLR to a RANGEFINDER (the model of camera doesn’t matter).

    This was not a post about “dissing” dSLR, it was about how I switched to a RANGEFINDER after being inspired by Steve and wanted to showcase a few pics of my lovely wife and daughter.

    Even though it may not be Steve’s intent, this website mostly represents rangefinder and micro 4/3 users, thus many will be Leica users. I would expect to see similar post on this site because of this. Heck, that is what attracted me to the site to begin with! It’s no different if I were visiting Trey Ratcliff’s (awesome guy) Stuck in Customs website to read about HDR photography. I wouldn’t expect to see any comments about anything but HDR.

    My family and I really appreciate ALL the nice comments from ALL who have responded (that includes Michiel). Instead of looking at this post as a “former dSLR to Leica M9 user”, I would rather you look at it as a dedication to my love for my wife and baby girl.




  9. Seems like there will always be those who enjoy shooting with rangefinders and get joy and happiness shooting in that style. There will also always be haters and those who feel like they should tell others what to do with their money. The haters sound like the miserable ones while the happy ones seem to be the guys and girls shooting away. Also, I never seem to see images from those who bitch and moan about people who buy Leicas. Instead they like to complain about Leica shooters photos without showing any of their own.

    I do not shoot Leica for the amazing image quality (though it is still to date the best Ive seen in any 35mm digital). I shoot Leica because it is what I enjoy shooting most. I also shoot smaller cameras like Micro 4/3, NEX, etc on some days.

    But shooting an M is like nothing else and to those who say it is, well, they just do not own an M.

    I think it is awesome that Gage got rid of his tank and went with the M9, which IMO, is of much better quality than ANY Canon, and I shot both side by side for months. Not only in the IQ but the size, weight, glass, etc.

    Like I said, there will always be haters and who cares if every image shot with a Leica is not a work of art? 99% of photos online are not, that is why we are “hobbyists”. Hell, I’ve seen so called “pro” big wigs with awful images. This site is about passion, and enjoying whatever you use to get your images. It IS the process of shooting that makes most of us happy and this is why the most passionate in this hobby seem to be Leica shooters.

    The shooters of the past didn’t talk about gear because A: There wasn’t to much to choose from B: The whole gear craze didn’t start yet and C: There was no way for them to voice their opinions about it..there was no internet, no blogs, no forums. If there were you would have seen loads of crap images from them as in reality they averaged what? 1-2 classic per year? Just because we never saw their throwaway shots doesn’t mean they didn’t shoot a bunch of awful images, they indeed did. I mean, how many years did Bresson shoot? How many iconic images do we see of his? How many rolls did he shoot in his lifetime? Something to think about.

    I think the images and story Gage posted here is great. He traded up to a smaller, lighter and all manual camera and got some great shots of his wife and child while ENJOYING the process of shooting those images. Nothing wrong with that at all. I would never ever go back to a big DSLR. Whenever I try them I am unimpressed, uninspired and never want to lug them around.


    • “this is why the most passionate in this hobby seem to be Leica shooters. ”

      I am sure that many of them are passionate but this statement says everything-leica shooters are the choosen ones. They just spend most of the time talking about the passion which is not the same thing. Most passionate are the kids and students who are grateful for those cameras that leave you “unimpressed, uninspired and never want to lug them around” and grateful that they can afford a camera that produces what they want. If it was up to Leica they wouldn’t be able to take any photos.

    • dude.

      why is it that anytime someone voices an opinion contrary to unanimous approval, that it is ‘seen’ as hatred? are we so fickle in our passion and our vision, that we are incapable of dealing with dissent or criticism from others? are we to become so myopic… so closed, that we are no longer open to the impressions and feelings of others? have we not much to learn from the experiences of others, and perhaps even the most from those who care enough to offer criticism?

      can you not also ‘see’ how making statements like ‘the most passionate in this hobby seem to be leica shooters,’ fosters the impression of elitism and superiority, which you know exists in the camera world toward leica enthusiasts. and that is fine, and shouldn’t deter anyone from purchasing a leica camera, but seriously… since when does passion come with a brand name?

      and sure, HCB took some ‘awful’ images and i’ve seen footage of him admitting to having done just that, but never were they due to the shortcomings of the brand of camera he was using. and if i’m not mistaken the guy also has a few hanging in museums and in homes the world over. he also famously said, “photography is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.” Not once, have i seen him anywhere promoting the necessity of putting the ‘wallet in one’s back pocket’ on that same axis.

      just saying…

      blessings and continued inspiration.

  10. @michiel- it’s not your story to tell nor is it your place to tell people what they should and shouldn’t say. this man recently had a child and has taken some wonderful pictures with his new investment. i hardly see how the statement “After lugging around my Canon 5d Mk II for a few years I thought I was ready for a change” is a complaint. you seem to be doing the most complaining here.

    @gage- thanks for sharing your story/shots and congrats! happy shooting!

    • @the world against michiel- i’m sorry, but where was he trying to ‘tell people what they should and shouldn’t say?” cuz, from where i stand it looks like it is the other way around. where is all this negativity you perceive; were his first two words on this posting not, “lovely images?” was he belittling anyone for their decision to purchase an M9, or just voicing his frustration about the redundancy of the same SLR to M story being posted here?

      why the sensitivity? if spending $10,000+ on a camera system makes sense to you, fulfills your photographic needs, brings you joy and enriches your passion towards photography and life in general, then why should you care what someone else thinks? just keep doing what makes you happy, for that sort of happiness is intangible, and doesn’t need to be justified to anyone.

      it’s just ironic, selling this image of the colossal feeble flock of dslr users against the lone leica wolf. people spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to buy their way out of the flock, only to take the same sheepish pictures, wearing wolves clothing.


      another lifeless, happy sheep

      • well said, I guess that when people invest so much money to by the image that they are “real” photographers who don’t care about bells and whistles, superfluous technology and whatever rationalization they are saying to defend their purchase they feel a bit threatened when someone points out.

        I haven’t seen Steve McCurry, Allard, Erwitt or Davidson wriing looong rationalizations of their gear choice, it just wasn’t necessary they are artists and their photos speak for themselves, not explanation is needed. On the other hand, I;ve seen many people here, (I guess that is what provoked michiel to give his comment) explaining why they bought Leica and how they cuddle and dress their camera and lenses but then show borring and uncreative photos, we’ve seen something similar with the photos from the workshop with the explanation that it is experience that matters, I’m sorry but what experience? of giving so much money to feel that you are photographer? better give that money to charity or ho with your mates or partner on a trip and enjoy the experiene…

        This offcourse is not in any way related to Gage’s photos which are lovely.

  11. lovely shots, and beautiful memories for a lifetime! nothing you couldn’t do with a much cheaper camera, but that’s besides the point. great captures.

  12. I think Michiel’s point is valid actually… it is great that people make their own journey into what ever system suits their needs…

    but let’s just enjoy the product of their work.

  13. Beautiful photos, memories well captured to treasure forever.

    @ michiel : get used to stories of people switching from heavy slr’s to smaller Leica’s because after photokina 2012 it’ll not just be big pro slr’s getting swapped for m9s… A lot more people will be swapping their kit for the interchangeable mirrorless Leica. Bring on all of the wonderfull and personal journeys that these great cameras facilitate 🙂

    • Sure. Just spare me the surplus-to-requirements stories. I’ve never seen the need to complain about something to justify a choice I just made. The images are what it’s all about. Whatever the equipment used, some are remarkable, most aren’t.

  14. Congratulations to you both, Gage. They’re all lovely images, but I agree with others, the second shot is fabulous — the expressions on both their faces is super. I could never afford an M9 but it’s certainly a worthwhile investment if you have something infinitely more valuable – a new family.

  15. Thanks everyone for such kind words! Also, Steve thanks for posting this on your site! I’ve been keeping this a secret form my wife and wanted to surprise her. She was definitely surprised, and loves the post.

    Oh, here is one last recent pic of my lovely wife and daughter. Personally, I think black and white pictures are timeless?

  16. Awwww, cute bebbeh! Congratulations to mother, daughter and you. Have a long and happy lives together and keep posting these lovely photos.

  17. Such a loving declaration of Steve`s influence on Gage M. Caudell`s decision on buying a Leica M9. And where`s Steve`s congratulation and felicitations for both the lovely baby`s coming to this world and his site fan`s enthusiasm? Steve, wake up!

  18. gage – lovely images, especially the second one. your daughter has a beautiful smile. it’s your own personal treasure. 🙂

    michiel – unfortunately, for most people, weight is a major factor. imagine going out for a family trip and carrying around a d90 when an s95 would suffice. or even, like those i’ve seen around in malaysia, where people actually go out to the mall, lugging slrs around their necks! most do not want the weight but the idea of a p&s with prices as much as an slr but without the quality is simply undesirable. or perhaps they think it’s cool to lug one of those. 😉

    if you can afford one, i don’t think it matters which camera you are using. as long as the picture you take means something to you. heck, i want a leica myself, but for now, i’ll just stick to my e-p2, thank you. and my konica autoreflex t3n, for that matter. back to basic. crank, focus, click. 1kg worth of childhood pleasure. =)

    • I had an E-P2 with 1.7/20 for a while. Loved it, and hated it because of the evf, which was like a benign tumor getting in the way all the time. Great IQ, great camera. Sold it, partly beacause of the unpractical viewfinder. Oh; I pretend not to be a tourist, gazing at a display in order to make a picture. I prefer looking through a lens.

      I just hate the stereotype entree of some people here (“Oh I got so tired of lugging my DSLR ánd zoom around” etc etc ad nauseam); let their images speak for themselves. I don’t need the apologetic stories explaining their fresh membership of the Leica fraternity.

      Let the images speak.

      • @ Michiel Just because you are such an irritable person doesn’t mean we care to hear your complaining. Move on sir. Move on.

          • The images would speak, provided people would look at them instead of critiquing his rationale for changing camera systems. He doesn’t have to defend his decision, nor his choice of words….he’s perfectly free to both get tired of any camera, and tell us about it.

          • @michiel. I’m tired of your whines about a person’s preference or change towards Leica. It’s their own discoveries and if that makes them inspired, so be it. Gosh everytime i see your name here I already can sense negativeness. It’s really irritating.

      • gage, congratulations on your two new additions to your family and no matter which camera you hold in your hand, may your lives be continually blessed with such beautiful moments.

        michiel- i hear you, i truly do. but, everything has it’s place and if you haven’t yet realized that at stevehuff place, what is usually celebrated and found to be ‘inspiring’ is ordinary people spending an extraordinary amount of money on an extraordinary machine and producing completely ordinary pictures rendered in extraordinary quality, then thats on you, dude… it’s just a camera. it’s just a camera. it’s just a camera. it’s just a camera… can you hear them, now?

      • This article would be rather boring if it goes “3 Pics of my wife and kid. Enjoy” =)

  19. Lovely images. Unfortunately yet another “lugging heavy dlsr around, switched to M story”. Will it never stop?

    • Probably won’t ever stop….as long as DSLRs continue to be giant overmolded bodies with dozens of extra ‘features’ no one needs, along with huge lenses, digital Ms (even with their annoyances and limitations) will continue to be attractive.

      Beautiful photos Gage!

    • Just another daily inspiration too.. but I rather enjoyed this article. I have the Canon 5D2 set up just like you did and I’ve mentioned to my other half that when our first child comes along, their first photo will be taken with a Leica as well lol. Now I just gotta time it as well as you

  20. Thanks for sharing and congratulations! I think you will find that you will always have a great subject with your child.

  21. Thanks for sharing your photos Gage. Lovely!!! and congrats on the little one. I’m constantly looking at this site to read about all of the folks who just love their M9s. I’m simply captivated by the idea of having one. I’m hoping there is some truth to the rumors of another model between the x1 and the M9, that would make my day and be nice on the pockets.

    Really though, were there no regrets? I use my DSLR for taking pictures for events at my job (non professional stuff for a particular club), as well as for personal stuff. Seems like the M9 would be great for personal work, but for work, where I’m expected to help take pictures, it doesn’t seem feasible.

    I’m still praying, wishing and contemplating the whole issue….we’ll see.


    • John,

      I guess my only regret is that I don’t have a telephoto lens anymore and I don’t have a camera that can shoot 5 fps. Obviously, if these are two things that are a necessity, M9 is definitely not the way to go. Even though I like those features I rarely used them.

      I purchased the M9 not solely on it’s legendary picture quality and compactness but also to better my self as a photographer. I’m 32 and have grown accustomed to the digital age. I’ve never shot with a film camera and I never had to shoot with a camera that was almost completely manual. I knew when purchasing the M9 I would only be using prime lenses and I would have to learn how to control the exposure and composition. Yes, you can do this with any camera but I felt the M9 would be best at teaching me. I’ve now had my M9 (and now M9-P) for almost a year and I’ve found my picture taking has significantly improved.

      The M9 could work well for your job if you work somewhere that you don’t need a flash. If you work in a low light environment, then it’s going to be more challenging. You can buy a flash for the M9 (I own one) but I think most agree that the camera is best without a flash?

      Hopefully that answers your questions John. At the end of the day, we all want to take great pictures and it really doesn’t matter what equipment we use as long as we are happy with it.


      • Years ago I bought an M6, with 50 f/2 summicron. At first I thought I’d made a mistake. Sold all my stuff for an expensive manual camera? I must have been nuts!
        A few weeks later, I took the M6 everywhere…and I believe it made me a better photographer. Because the Leica doesn’t’ have all the modes or auto this and that, the photographer has to make all the decisions.
        I sold the M6 (financial reasons at the time) and have regretted that day ever since.
        My goal is to get an M9..or at least another Leica. It may take awhile, but I will get one.
        But I certainly get where you’re coming from when you say your picture taking has improved. The Leica frees you to do just that.
        Love the photos of mother and child, very nice!

      • Hi Gage
        I too currently own a 5D Mark II with a bunch of L primes. I also have the crazy urge to dump all my Canon gears for the M9. If you do not mind, I have 2 questions for you: What was the first lens you bought with your M9, and where would you recommend for me to go to sell my gears (as I am new to this)? Many thanks, and by the way, wonderful pictures you took.

        • i sold my 5d Mrk II and all the lenses on eBay. You could post on craiglist or there may be another site out there like Steve Huff’s that allows you to post camera gear for sell (you can post here on his site but most are looking for leica gear). If you have more detailed questions go to my website and email me directly.
          I initially purchased the 50mm summarit but only kept it for a about a week and then Dale Photo had an almost new 50mm summilux. I wasn’t looking to spend that much but thought I may not get another chance to buy the legendary lens at a decent price. And I’m glad I did buy it because I absolutely love it!
          Personally, if I were to have only one lens I would without regret pick a 50mm lens. I think it’s the perfect length for portraits, landscapes, and street photography (again, if you only had one lens). My 50mm summilux is on my camera 80% time.

          Hopefully, this helps. Again if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to contact me directly.


          • Hi Gage,
            Thank you for your kind response. I think I may try EBay, will email you for questions.

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