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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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Old 12-28-2018   #1
Bill Pierce
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There was a period of time when lucky people like me and a good many friends earned a good living being sent around the world to meet interesting people and witness important events. It is no secret that has a changed. And here is an intelligent and interesting discussion of that change.

https://witness.worldpressphoto.org/...y-9c7613baf926
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Old 12-28-2018   #2
xayraa33
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It seems the new paradigm for professional photographer is to be a perpetual amateur photographer. Everyone has been magically transformed into the dilettante artiste category.
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Old 12-28-2018   #3
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Around the world? Interesting people? Important events? Bah, humbug! Work should be difficult, stressful and unrewarding, all for a pittance. Ha, ha, of course. Only kidding.

Really, though, photographers can take the admittedly small comfort from the fact that digital and the internet has transformed the artist's relation to the wider community. Photographers share the devaluation of their work with writers and musicians everywhere. Where will it all end? I haven't a clue. Do you?
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Old 12-28-2018   #4
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About eight years ago an editor explained to me about "good enough". With so many people being raised on the internet, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. and being bombarded with snapshots from all their "friends" and others, the appreciation for good quality photography (see LIFE, LOOK, TIME, etc) has diminished to the point where images the editors can get for free are "good enough" for what the readers/viewers expect. So why pay for good quality work, when free is "good enough".

Thanks for sharing the article Bill.

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Old 12-28-2018   #5
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Many professions has changed. No elevator operators and not so many parking attendants, blacksmiths and chimney cleaners.

I could find more interesting stories on facebook than in any magazine. Or on the old fashion radio.
They don't send to, they talk, taking interviews via Skype.
It is changed. It is Mosul eye time.

I have zero interest in Life photos, good photographer doesn't mean intresting picture, often.
And even more often good picture comes from direct witness. Or should I say true picture...
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Old 12-28-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xayraa33 View Post
Everyone has been magically transformed into the dilettante artiste category.
Yeah, because loving and making art is such BS right?
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Old 12-28-2018   #7
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Yeah, there was a time when a Eddie Adams or Eugene Smith or any number of working professionals could produce jaw-dropping pictures that would be published at Time-Life or elsewhere. I don't see such pictures anymore.

Change hasn't favored product quality in press photography. And it seems only a minority, and a small one at that, cares.
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Old 12-28-2018   #8
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One of the items I found interesting is the increased demand for video. I've always shot stills and I cannot, for some reason, get my head around shooting video, or at least shooting video that is worth watching. That has to be a difficult transition for many photographers.
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Old 12-28-2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCTuomey View Post
Yeah, there was a time when a Eddie Adams or Eugene Smith or any number of working professionals could produce jaw-dropping pictures that would be published at Time-Life or elsewhere. I don't see such pictures anymore.

Change hasn't favored product quality in press photography. And it seems only a minority, and a small one at that, cares.
Gene ended strong with Minimata. Ed, working years later, saw some of the decline when important events were replaced with coverage of celebrities.
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Old 12-28-2018   #10
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Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
Yeah, because loving and making art is such BS right?
I never said that loving and making art is BS in my comment.

Being a dilettante can be a badge of honour if one does not expect to make a living from it.

If one needs money to pay the bills then they might have to find something else in employment to fill the need, unless of course they come from a well to do family like HCB or Ms Arbus, then failure or success in photography will matter little to fill up their bank account with fiat currency.

Human beings are very adaptable.
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Old 12-28-2018   #11
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Nice cover photo...

The cover of the report* features 'Earth Kiln' by Li Huaifeng, 2018 World Press Photo Contest winner.

*The State of News Photography 2018: Photojournalists' attitudes toward work practices, technology and life in the digital age, authored by Adrian Hadland & Camilla Barnett and published by the World Press Photo Foundation.
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