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The Story of Sean Flynn’s Leica M2

The Story of Sean Flynn’s Leica M2
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This can be a story a few digicam, a fairly particular digicam. Each digicam has a historical past, so they are saying. However it’s not all that always that one has such a wealthy and documented historical past. One which was considered misplaced however has been discovered once...

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This can be a story a few digicam, a fairly particular digicam. Each digicam has a historical past, so they are saying. However it’s not all that always that one has such a wealthy and documented historical past. One which was considered misplaced however has been discovered once more. That is the story of Sean Flynn’s Leica M2.
I’ve been very fortunate all through my profession to have discovered some wonderful cameras, however each on occasion you come throughout one thing that units itself aside. That is a type of cameras. The overwhelming majority of the cameras I see don’t have any file — you actually don’t know the place they’ve been. However this digicam is completely different, it has a well-documented historical past that was thought to have been misplaced. However by way of a little bit of digging and lots of luck, the historical past of this digicam has revealed itself.
This actually is a narrative of serendipity. I used to be supplied this digicam earlier this yr by a consultant of the Flynn household. As quickly as I used to be informed concerning the historical past of the digicam I knew precisely who would need it. Considered one of my purchasers has a selected style for cameras with a historical past and this was the digicam for him.
However first, we should always return and discuss a bit of bit about Sean Flynn.

Sean Flynn was the one youngster of the famed actor Errol Flynn and Lili Damita and was well-known for his work as a photojournalist protecting the Vietnam Warfare. Flynn labored intently with particular models in Vietnam and Cambodia, capturing unbelievable photographs of the warfare. A lot of his photographs could be thought of to be the uncooked view of an particularly brutal warfare.

Flynn even parachuted into warfare zones with the unit he was embedded with, working aspect by aspect with the soldier to seize extraordinarily compelling photographs.

In 1970, he was kidnapped in Cambodia whereas on the way in which to an task with fellow photojournalist Dana Stone and was by no means to be seen once more.
There have been experiences that each Flynn and Stone had been kidnapped by the Vietcong after which handed to the Khmer Rouge earlier than being executed, however stays had been by no means discovered. Flynn’s mom spent her life and fortune looking for a hint of her son, however sadly it was to no avail. Sean Flynn was declared legally lifeless in 1984.

Upon his disappearance, Sean Flynn apparently left behind an house in Paris which contained quite a few his belongings, most of which went again to the palms of his household and buddies, although there may be some dispute about this because it appears there have been quite a few belonging that had been lacking. One of many items that did return was this digicam although. The digicam. Sean Flynn’s Leica M2.

That is Sean Flynn’s Leica M2, with a Metal Rim Leica 35mm Summilux and a strap that was hand customary from a parachute twine and a hand grenade pin.
One of many issues that makes this digicam so particular is that we completely know the place it has been, who it belonged to, and what it has been doing. How do we all know this? As a result of the digicam has been doing nothing, completely nothing. This digicam has been tucked away in a darkish nook for greater than 30 years. However lately the household lastly determined new residence must be discovered for it, which is once they discovered me.
Because of this the final particular person to make use of the digicam was in all chance Sean Flynn. To me that makes this digicam actually particular. The digicam has a gorgeous patina, from heavy utilization. Nevertheless it additionally has grime, grime that would nicely have come from Sean Flynn dealing with the digicam. There may be mud too, however I’d not dare wipe it away. You may see the recollections and the marks on the digicam, and you may attribute them to somebody, which is wonderful.

This is a vital digicam as a result of nature of possession, and with that comes a specific amount of accountability. A digicam like this is a vital piece of historical past and must be handled as such. Luckily, I had somebody in thoughts whom I knew could be the right particular person to maintain this outstanding piece.
And that is the place the serendipity kicks in. It seems that the brand new proprietor of this digicam was not solely conscious of the historical past of the digicam, however he was buddies with Frank Palmos, who knew Tim Web page.

Tim has been instrumental in serving to piece collectively the historical past of this digicam for us. Tim confirmed that that is the digicam that Sean shot with in Vietnam, as he remembers sitting with Sean in ‘Frankie’s Home’ as Sean made the strap for the digicam from the parachute twine and pin: “We used to have arts & crafts periods the place we’d customise our subject package and tools”.
He additionally very kindly offered photographs taken of Sean with the digicam and footage that Sean had taken with the digicam which you’ll see right here.


This was a serious discovery — that we even have a file of the digicam and pictures taken with the digicam. Nevertheless it was about to get even higher. You see, it seems that this story began when a photographer within the USA discovered Sean Flynn’s bag at an vintage present in Atlanta. Tim Web page was despatched the bag and it’s in his possession, quickly to be reunited with the digicam.

So that is the place the story ends, proper? Will the digicam be locked up in a collectors cupboard, hidden from the general public eye to be forgotten? No, this digicam is way too necessary to have that occur. This digicam goes to be the centerpiece of a retrospective present of Sean Flynn’s work, and the work of different photographers that knew Sean Flynn.
The digicam shall be featured with the bag and prints of Sean’s, Tim’s and different’s work at reveals within the Leica retailer in Hanoi and at a authorities home in Ho Chi Minh metropolis. There may be the opportunity of the present touring to different international locations sooner or later. The digicam will reside in Saigon with its proprietor.


The digicam survived Vietnam, Cambodia, PNG, Indonesia, the 6 Day Warfare in Israel and Euro travels. Luckily, Flynn didn’t have the digicam with him when he was captured within the Parrot’s Beak of Jap Cambodia, close to Chi Pou on April sixth, 1970 with fellow photographer Dana Stone.


It’s an honor to have been capable of be part of this unbelievable story. Discovering cameras is at all times thrilling, however this one is a once-in-a-career occasion. I shall be attending the reveals in Vietnam within the coming months, and I’m wanting ahead to assembly the photographers that labored with Sean Flynn and knew him.


Serving to to place one thing like this collectively is what makes my job so rewarding for me. Seeing the lifetime of a digicam so particular is an thrilling and emotional expertise.
I’m at all times looking out for cameras with a historical past and a narrative to inform. Drop me a line if in case you have one or know somebody that does.
I want to lengthen my honest because of Chad Kiser for serving to me to work with the Flynn household. And to Tim Web page for help with the pictures you see right here. All photographs used with permission. No copy with out prior consent.
Replace on 1/31/18: Photographer Billy Seaside has extra on the backstory of this digicam.
In regards to the writer: Bellamy Hunt is a photographer primarily based in Tokyo, Japan, and the person behind Japan Digital camera Hunter. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the writer. Hunt sources high quality cameras and picture gear from Japan for purchasers world wide. You’ll find extra of his writing on his web site. This text was additionally printed right here.
Date: 2018-02-06 14:09:20



Camera Equipment history Leica leicam2 lostandfound seanflynn vietnamwar

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