Canon and Nikon have, for years, had a small group of very prominent photographers that they supported, usually with equipment and heightened level of technical support. Sometimes those agreements are with an agency (Canon works with VII, Nikon with Noor, for instance). But now Leica is stepping up to fund stories in addition to supplying some equipment.
It would be easy to say this is foolish, that how are they supposed to make money if they’re giving it away? Easy – marketing. The reason every dentist in America wants to own a Leica is because of the pros who use it to tell important stories. Think Sebastio Salgado’s work on Workers – all shot on a Leica.
So part of this is altruism, believing these stories need to be told. But it’s a great marketing tool, too.
(And if anyone from Leica is reading this, I’d love to be supported by you, too …)