Magnum Photos legend Thomas Hoepker wins Leica Picture of The Year

Hoepker Leica Picture of The Year Winner 2022
Thomas Hoepker in front of his 1966 image of Muhammad Ali (Image credit: Bodo Philipp)

Since 2021, Leica Camera AG has chosen a Leica Picture of the Year, taken by outstanding Leica photographers who have been inducted into the Leica Hall of Fame. There are currently twelve renowned photographers who have been honored 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's 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 when he was working for the magazine  Kristall, assigned to explore the USA with both a curious and critical eye. 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 on the bus looked a bit as though they suffered from indigestion. I like strange and funny  photographs!”  

Thomas Hoepker, Advertisement and passengers on bus. New York City 1963 © Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos

Advertisement and passengers on bus. New York City 1963 © Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos  (Image credit: Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos )

History of  Thomas Hoepker

Born in 1936, Hoepker has defined German photojournalism like few others, as far back as the sixties. He started as a photographer and correspondent for important magazines, and later also as an Art Director. As an internationally-renowned Magnum photographer, he is considered one of the most important representatives of engaged, empathic photojournalism, even to this day. The multi-award-winning photographer and filmmaker 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 “image maker” – 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.

This award-winning image will be sold throughout Leica Galleries with a total run of just 50 worldwide and will measure:

Page size: 15.74 x 19.69 inch (40 x 50 cm)

Motif size: 10.31 x 14.76 inch (26.2 x 37.5 cm) 

Each individual print will be signed and with the respective edition number, presented in a folder with a certificate of authenticity and special edition numbering on sale as of 21st October 2022.

Found this interesting? Why not take a look at our Leica M-A review, or better yet browse through our Best Leica lenses guide to help you choose the best focal length for you? If digital is your bread and butter, then check out our review of the Leica M11 or the Leica Q2 Reporter.

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Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.

He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 

He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.