6 Nov 2022 By May Ng


Exclusively at Leica Galleries International: the Leica Picture of the Year by legendary Magnum photographer Thomas Hoepker..

Since 2021, Leica Camera AG has been choosing a Leica Picture of the Year taken by outstanding Leica photographers, who have been inducted into the Leica Hall of Fame. To date, twelve renowned photographers have been honoured with the Leica Hall of Fame award. With the aim of sharing a piece of this success with all Leica enthusiasts, each Leica Picture of the Year will be on offer exclusively at the 25 Leica Galleries worldwide. These limited editions grant collectors and Leica friends alike the chance to build up a unique collection of great Leica photographs.

The 2022 Leica Picture of the Year is an iconic image by German photographer Thomas Hoepker, and was featured in the extensive retrospective Thomas Hoepker – Image Maker at the Ernst Leitz Museum Wetzlar earlier this year. The black and white photo was taken during a road trip that Hoepker took for a few months in 1963: he was working for the magazine Kristall, assigned to explore the USA with an eye both curious and critical. In the middle of New York’s noisy traffic, he photographed a public bus. The expression in the eyes of two passengers looking out of the window, and the advertisement for a remedy for indigestion on the bus, combined to produce an ironic snapshot. “Sometimes you get lucky as a street photographer. In 1963, I was walking in New York with my Leica camera,” Hoepker remembers. “A bus was passing by and I saw this strange poster for Pepto-Bismol; I shot one picture and forgot about it. Weeks later, when I looked at my contact sheets, I noticed that the man and woman in the bus looked a bit as though they suffered from indigestion. I like strange and funny photographs!”

Born in 1936, Hoepker has, since the sixties, defined German photojournalism like few others.  He started out as a photographer and correspondent for important magazines, and later also as an Art Director. As an internationally-renowned Magnum photographer he is, to this day, considered one of the most important representatives of engaged, empathic photojournalism. The multi-award-winning photographer and film maker has been living in the USA for many years now.

Time and again, Hoepker’s imagery reveals his interest in social themes, and his particular empathy toward those he portrays – whether celebrities or unknown people. This humanistic approach has always been decisive for the photographer: authenticity and photographic testimony are the defining constants in his work. The assignment photographer likes to humbly describe himself as an “imager maker”: as someone who is interested in nothing less than the truth; the authenticity of the moment. The Leica Picture of the Year that has been chosen for 2022, offers impressive proof of Hoepker’s mastery in this regard.

The Leica Picture of the Year 2022: