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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author


“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  


Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 


Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."


I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!


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Tis the season of buying
Old 12-21-2017   #1
Bill Pierce
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Tis the season of buying

This will make some happy, some envious and some furious.

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Old 12-21-2017   #2
Nick Merritt
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I guess it's a good thing, always, when there is a healthy market for art. But with a lot of these, I have to question the buyers' taste.
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Old 12-21-2017   #3
Chasing Shadows ... Light
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crazy money but if You have it , why not spend it

You go girl Cindy !!!
Have always Enjoyed her work ...Happy about that

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Old 12-21-2017   #4
Kostya Fedot
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Just in time, Bill!. Minutes ago I wrote pamphlet on my FB with Words Charades based on WC.
One I used was Who Cares.
So, Who Cares for how much it was sold for. GW described it long time ago as "tax shelter".
So, it is sold for some reasons not related to photography. Good what something close to WC paper could be used this way.

I'm not happy, envious or furious, but .

Happy White Christmas!
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Old 12-21-2017   #5
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Rhein ii is whatever....
Only its outrages price is interesting.
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Old 12-21-2017   #6
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It would be interesting to know who bought the images and what they are doing with them, and how long they hold them before flipping them. In other words, what is the motivation for the purchase.
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Old 12-21-2017   #7
Family Snaps
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It is very interesting to see what is considered the top of photographic art.
I find most of the images to be very boring.
Give me a snapshot of kids wooping it up every time.
Leica M2 / 7artisans 35-f2 / Canon 35-f2 ltm
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Old 12-21-2017   #8
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I'm VERY happy as in a digital world people are spending big bucks on prints!

B2 (;->
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Old 12-21-2017   #9
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Seriously, I thought number 2 was really just a picture of pure blackness...until I saw the note under..


About Film Cameras
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Old 12-21-2017   #10
Likes Leicas
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I wouldn't hang most of them on my wall if someone gave them to me. I don't understand what makes them good, nor why people are willing to pay such outrageous prices. Could it be that some people have too much money and don't know what to do with it.
May the light be with you.
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Old 12-21-2017   #11
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I’m surprised there’s no Nan Golden/Eggleston/Mary Ellen Mark ... really if I had to pick one of the lot, it’d be jeff wall without hesitation...
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Old 12-21-2017   #12
back alley
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art appreciation is based upon an individuals taste who then announces his taste to the world whereupon others either accept his point of view and share it with their world or disagree and share that opinion with their world.

i believe this is how i have been ignored as a real talent for these many years...
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Old 12-21-2017   #13
On leave from Gallifrey
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Nonplussed about the supposed value of these but I do really like Cindy Sherman's work.
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Old 12-21-2017   #14
Peter Jennings
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As with most artist's work, it really helps to look at each piece as part of a larger body of work. Every piece is part of a larger puzzle that the artist (painter, photographer, sculptor, whatever...) slowly constructs while trying to fulfill their overall conceptual vision. That said, I really don't understand why anyone would pay that much for any of these. But if I had that much money to throw around, maybe I'd think differently.
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Old 12-22-2017   #15
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A fool and his money and all that. Maybe they paid with Bitcoin in an effort to put their money into something real.
We all pay our mortgages if those at the top of the money pile keep spending so bravo! Happy Christmas to all on this forum.
Leica M6 1989 - Leica M3 1955 - no more broken cameras - Zeiss Contarex Cyclops 1967 - no digital - Nikon F F2 F2A - only analogue - Horizon 202 - Hasselblad X-Pan - only silver media - Rolleiflex 2.8F - All now working as they should
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Old 12-22-2017   #16
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Edward Steichen Pond at night would get a place on my wall any time. Most others are common or just junk put together
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Old 12-22-2017   #17
Devin Bro
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Not exactly on topic, but in line with the title

Is anyone else sick of Adorama blowing up your email inbox with "Amazing Holiday Deals"

I have received multiple emails sometimes 3 a day prompting me to save hundreds on great holiday deals... they've had 3 Black Fridays since Thanksgiving and 2 cyber mondays (cyber Tuesday) and now they're at it again... had to run the loop and delete myself from their mailing list.
Made in Michigan

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Old 12-22-2017   #18
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While not always representative of my own personal taste, I'm glad photographic prints have gained respect in the art world. Too bad most of the time that respect is only translated into price instead of value.
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Old 12-22-2017   #19
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Gursky's work is interesting. Good for him that his work is selling at these prices -especially since he's still alive.
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Old 12-22-2017   #20
somewhat colored
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The price of a print is not a measure of the value of the art, in either context.

I'm glad for the fact that people still value printed photographs.
I'm glad that photographers are getting paid for their work.

Whether I like the photos or not, or whether any other individual does for that matter, is completely irrelevant.

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Old 12-22-2017   #21
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Further evidence that our current tax rates on the wealthy are not too high. Thanks for sharing.
Happy holidays!
Eric Triplett in sunny Florida
These days I shoot mostly with Sony A7Riii, Sigma Quattro SD H, Panasonic G9, Panasonic GH-5.
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