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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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Too Many ???
Old 01-03-2019   #1
Bill Pierce
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Too Many ???

At the beginning of the year, I look around and think, I have too many cameras. I can make excuses and say I am a working stiff and need a range of specialized tools, but todays digital cameras combine versatility and image quality in surprisingly small packages. Depending on the work you do, lighting gear, camera supports and lenses may be more valuable than more bodies. While I think it can be wise to have a back up body in case of breakdowns or, in some cases, several identical bodies so you can shoot with several fixed focal length lenses without losing time changing lenses, Im not so sure that it is wise to have bodies with differing controls.

Hooray for the simplicity and similarity of different film cameras. Almost all of them have a shutter speed dial, an f/stop ring, focusing mechanism, a shutter release and a film advance. Master one and you have mastered almost all the features of the next one. Not so with digital cameras. Difference in menu structures and button and dial placements and functions abound. Of course you can work two different cameras - but, can you do it without thinking? Im not suggesting that you stop thinking while you are taking pictures, but I am suggesting its sort of a waste, delay and serious impediment to think about what do I scroll or select to change focus or exposure when you should be thinking about the subject. And the different placement of controls on different makes and models of very versatile digital cameras may mean sticking with one brand, even one model type, makes good sense. Am I going to have to give up some of my play-toys?
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