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Who's In This Podcast
Helen Todd is co-founder and CEO of Sociality Squared and the human behind Creativity Squared.
Kiran Karnani is the Vice President of Marketing at Leica Camera North America, and helped launch the Leica Women Foto Project which is a program focused on promoting gender equity in photography

Ep28. Kiran Karnani: Leica Camera on Choice, A.I. & Authenticity

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E28. Leica Camera on Choice, A.I. & Authenticity: Discover the Leica M11-P, the World’s First Camera with Content Credentials at Point of Capture with Leica’s Kiran Karnani

Leica Camera recently unveiled a groundbreaking new addition to their iconic rangefinder series that marks a watershed moment for trust and transparency between photographers and consumers. The new Leica M11-P is the world’s first camera to directly integrate content authentication based on the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) standard at the moment of image capture.

On the latest episode of Creativity Squared, we had the pleasure of speaking with Kiran Karnani, Vice President of Marketing at Leica Camera North America, on the Creativity Squared podcast about this pivotal announcement and the responsibilities of artists and consumers alike in our digital age.

Under Kiran’s leadership, the company launched the Leica Women Foto Project which is a program focused on promoting gender equity in photography. This project provides underrepresented photographers with financial grants, mentorship, equipment, and exhibition opportunities. This year’s award celebrates the power of perspective and photo essays inspired by the themes of reclamation, resilience, and rebirth.

In addition to her work with Leica, Kiran has been a guest juror for several notable events, including the ConnectHer Film Festival, Women Street Photographers Virtual Exhibition Call, and AlfaAwards. She has also organized and curated events at the Leica Women Summit, Palm Springs Photo Festival, Photoville, and the Photo Plus Expo. Kiran is also an active member of Chief, a network dedicated to supporting senior executive women in their leadership journeys.

In this episode’s conversation, you’ll learn about Leica’s recent product announcement of their M11-P which integrates content authentication according to the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) and the C2PA standard. We’ll dive more into Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative and the coalition’s important mission to help combat the threat of misinformation and help creators get credit for their work. As of this recording, the CAI has over 2,000 members including Leica Camera and Creativity Squared. 

Leica is an industry-leading camera manufacturer, and in this episode, you’ll also learn more about its pioneering history and how Leica is supporting the Committee to Protect Photo Journalists. In a wide-ranging conversation, Kiran and host Helen Todd also touched on the importance of diverse perspectives, the responsibility of image-makers, the co-creation of culture, photography in the age of A.I. manipulation, and much more.For a recap of key insights from this thought-provoking discussion, continue reading below.

One single image has the power to incite, to inflame, to spark conversations…so the integrity of the content…is so critical.”

Kiran Karnani

Kiran’s lifelong passion for photography was sparked by her father, who believed every moment mattered and advocated for “shaping time” — an ideal that Kiran carried with her.

After earning her degree, Kiran’s journey led her to Leica Camera in 2015, where she soon became the Head of Marketing for North America.

Over the years, she has spearheaded impactful initiatives like the Leica Women Foto Project to uplift underrepresented photographers. 

It starts with family and has been connected to community, shared through the Leica lens.

Kiran Karnani

As Kiran recounted her origin story, she highlighted Leica’s pioneering history and pursuit of “photography in its truest form.” This dedication to authenticity continues to shape Leica’s identity today.

Leica’s inventions transformed photography from a studio-bound craft to an accessible art form. The company brought the first handheld 35mm camera to market in 1925, freeing photographers to capture life as it unfolded.

Iconic images that have shaped our visual lexicon, from Robert Capa’s “Falling Soldier” to Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl,” were shot on Leica cameras. By placing the power to document reality into photographers’ hands, Leica paved the way for street photography and photojournalism as we know them today.

This tradition of innovation endures with the new M11-P model. As Kiran explained, Leica continuously evolves just enough to meet today’s needs while remaining faithful to photography’s essentials.

Leica: A Legacy of Authenticity

A defining thread in Leica’s evolution under Kiran’s leadership is a drive to further democratize visual storytelling by amplifying diverse voices.

As Kiran stated, Leica recognized opportunities “to diversify our audience” and spotlight underrepresented groups. This realization birthed initiatives like the Leica Women Foto Project in 2019.

By platforming talented women photographers, their unique visions and angles on shared human experiences expand our understanding. Kiran explained that “the shape of a story is impacted through perspective.”
Leica also fosters new generations of photographers through programs like its “Truth in Focus” auction to benefit the Committee to Protect Journalists. Initiatives like these promote freedom of expression and responsibility in image-making.

According to Kiran, “In recognizing how the shape of a story can start to shift and change through those diverse perspectives” we gain clarity.

Reportage photography is a part of Leica’s DNA. We are committed to authenticity.”

Kiran Karnani

The discussion moved on to profound questions about society’s co-evolution with technology.

As Kiran observed, the data and media we consume shape our perception, which in turn informs our actions, beliefs, and culture. She underlined the importance of carefully discerning sources in today’s landscape.

Specifically, thoughtfully verifying integrity before spreading content is crucial. Universal adoption of standards like Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) will enable trust across digital media.

(We previously spoke to Andy Parsons, head of the CAI, on this show — listen to the episode here.)

Kiran also highlighted photography’s power to reveal unfamiliar vantage points. Images can profoundly expand our frame of reference by escorting us into the worlds of others. 
By capturing and integrating diverse perspectives through mindful image-making, we can move humanity forward with empathy. As witnesses, our cameras testify to unfamiliar truths, informing our culture.

Kiran emphasized that ethics and human values must remain paramount as technology evolves. While tools rapidly change, principles matter most. Leica creates new cameras based on authentic user needs, not just progress for its own sake.

This photo was taken with the M11-P camera with the Content Credentials function enabled. This allows the Content Credentials of the image to be checked and its historical changes monitored.

The launch of the M11-P absolutely serves as this watershed moment because it provides, for the very first time, the opportunity, the ability, to attach digital rights at the point of capture.”

Kiran Karnani

Leica’s commitment to authenticity manifests through its pioneering new M11-P camera. As the world’s first model to directly integrate content authentication, it bridges physical and digital realities.

The M11-P preserves photography’s fundamentals of form and function. Its minimalist aesthetic fuses cutting-edge encryption technology with discretion and portability, and by seamlessly adding certified digital credentials at capture, Leica enables photographers to verify their work without hindering creativity.

As Kiran explained, this breakthrough provides a vital layer of transparency in our digital era.

The Leica M11-P also offers consumers a portal into the lineage of an image through universal verification platforms. By giving insight into an image’s journey, Leica reinforces public trust.
As Kiran articulated, shining a light on provenance empowers both artists and audiences. The M11-P embodies Leica’s continual pursuit to elevate photography’s role as a conduit to truth.

Leica M11

The Future of Visual Storytelling

Emerging tools like A.I. expand possibilities. However, Kiran emphasized that ethics and human values must drive innovation.

While technology evolves rapidly, timeless values matter most. Leica creates new cameras not simply because they can, but to meet photographers’ authentic needs and advance the art of storytelling and visual expression.

Companies have an obligation to develop new media responsibly. Universal standards will allow us to leverage technology while safeguarding human dignity and truth.

Kiran also touched on the importance of education so all may benefit from technological change. Leica’s photo grants, workshops, and mentor programs are small steps toward democratization.

“Digital content informs the way that we make decisions, how we act, how we react, the belief systems that we collectively agree on.”

Kiran Karnani

As the conversation progressed, Kiran and Helen delved into the profound impact of photography on the way people perceive and interact with the world.

They stressed the critical importance of maintaining the integrity of content consumed in the digital age.

Kiran and Helen also discussed the concept of intentionality in photography, emphasizing the need to be more aware of one’s surroundings and to take time to absorb what is being seen.

Leica M cameras, particularly the rangefinder series, encourages this intentional approach by making photographers take their time to capture the decisive moment. “The camera actually invites you to do that in a really beautiful way as you’re deciding what to capture and what not to capture,” shared Helen.

Witnesses of Our Worlds

A poignant theme that emerged during the conversation was the idea of photographers as witnesses to the world around them.

“There’s this space between bearing witness and the act of creating, Kiran explained, “and in that space, we choose how and when to shape time into a defining moment.”

When asked what she hopes listeners take away, Kiran shared a meaningful perspective on the role of visual storytellers: “In essence, it’s moving through the movie through our life, we are witnesses. We are the silent witnesses of our worlds. And with the camera in hand, we can choose to not only witness but to also record life.”

Kiran explained that bearing witness carries a responsibility to document the moments we experience. In doing so, we shape the way future generations see and interact with the world.

This sentiment resonated with photographer Chaz Neill, whose take on being a witness Kiran shared: “The world deserves witnesses. And these images are my testimony.”

As witnesses wielding cameras, photographers testify to the truths of unfamiliar worlds. Their images inform culture and expand perspectives.

Cameras are a tool to help express culture, to create art. And the quality of that art is really based on the quality of that data…To experience data in its truest form…gives us agency to determine whether or not we trust it.”

Kiran Karnani

Overall, this far-ranging, insightful conversation underscored photography’s unique power to shape how we see the world, inform culture, and build understanding.

Throughout the discussion, Kiran emphasized our collective duty as image-makers and consumers to uphold ethics, verify truth, and elevate diverse perspectives. Leica’s groundbreaking new M11-P camera, embedding content credentials directly into each photo at the point of capture, represents a vital step towards transparency.
As we co-create culture in a digital age, Kiran compelled us to approach technology thoughtfully, never losing sight of humanity.

Kiran concluded by highlighting Leica’s “Truth in Focus” auction of iconic cameras and prints to support the Committee to Protect Journalists. She encouraged listeners to bid on items from luminaries like Jim Marshall, embracing the opportunity to own a piece of history while advancing press freedom worldwide.

Between Seeing and Creating is the Freedom to Choose

Kiran left us with a reminder that in the space between seeing and creating is the freedom to choose how we capture defining moments. She also reminded us to carefully choose how we interact with the content around us. In that discernment lies freedom.

As witnesses, this responsibility rests on our shoulders.

“Through this co-creation of visual expression, of art, of culture, we evolve humanity in a most beautiful way.”

Kiran Karnani

We all shoulder the collective duty to verify, reflect, and co-create culture with care. Our choices ripple outward.

By upholding ethical standards, prioritizing diverse voices, and finding unity through creativity, we can steer emerging technologies toward human progress. Leica’s next chapter, heralded by the M11-P, offers hope for this future.

Our cameras grant us the power to shape time, record reality, and reveal diverse truths. How we choose to see the world around us matters deeply, as Kiran so eloquently expressed. Our images testify to who we are.

To learn more about Leica’s cameras, educational initiatives and partnerships, visit their website at leica-camera.com. You can also follow Leica (@leicacamerausa) and Kiran (@kiran.karnani) on Instagram.

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Thank you, Kiran, for being our guest on Creativity Squared. 

This show is produced and made possible by the team at PLAY Audio Agency: https://playaudioagency.com.  

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