Theo Kisselbach: Leica Expert and Book Author


Theodor (Theo) Kisselbach (1908 – 1984), bought his first Leica in 1928. And Leica should change his life. Upon passing the examination for the master craftsman in photography certificate at the School of Arts and Crafts in Frankfurt he became an employee at Leitz company in Wetzlar. There he worked for the then head of the Leica School Heinrich Stöckler.

In 1947 Leitz created the new department Leica Technik, today Leica Akademie and Theo Kisselbach headed this department until his retirement at the end of 1971.

Günter Osterloh writes in his book 50 Jahre Leica M (50 Years Leica M) about Theo Kisselbach:

He was an expert when it came to dark room technique and an excellent photographer. Applying his knowledge and skills he created a worldwide unique competence center for applied 35mm photography.

Widmung von Henri Cartier-Bresson an Theo Kisselbach

Dedication by Henri Cartier-Bresson for Theo Kisselbach, January 1958
Copyright © H.-G. Kisselbach


As part of his professional career, Theo Kisselbach worked together with many famous photographers and photo reporters. Dr. Paul Wolff, Leica-Pioneer and his employee and later partner Alfred Tritschler, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ernst Haas, Dr. Walter Boje, Prof. Stefan Kruckenhauser, Liselotte Strelow, Lothar Rübelt, Emil Schulthess, were among them just to name a few.

Zwei Freunde – Theo Kisselbach und Prof. Stefan Kruckenhauser

Zwei Freunde – Theo Kisselbach und Prof. Stefan Kruckenhauser
Copyright © H.-G. Kisselbach


Exchanging experiences with others who worked with Leica cameras inspired Theo Kisselbach in his published books as well. Das kleine Leica-Buch (The Small Leica Book) was followed in 1955 with Das Leica-Buch (The Leica Book). One year later, together with Theo M. Scheerer as co-author, Kisselbach published Fotokurs in Farbe (Photo Lessons in Color), in 1960 the book Dunkelkammerhandbuch (Dark Room Manual), followed by Das Leicaflex-Buch (The Leicaflex Book) in 1966, and in 1969 he updated the famous Neue Foto-Schule (New Photo School) by H. Windisch and finally released the books Leica CL and Die Leica R4 (The Leica R4).

In 1975 Theo Kisselbach was a founding member of Leica Historica e.V. in Germany. His expertise among collectors was always highly regarded and his seminars in Haus Friedwart in Wetzlar were of great appeal to the audiences.

Günter Kisselbach dedicated his book “Barnack's First Leica” to his father Theo.