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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 01-09-2017   #41
wpm
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4th largest city in the U.S. and Houston really has one camera store left. Over the years and lots of money spent, I've come to know almost everyone at the Houston Camera Exchange and my Leica guy steers me in the right direction when something new comes in, which is rarer and rarer. They don't seem to get much cooperation or respect from Leica either. I try to deal with them rather than online, simply to help keep the local guys in business. I can come in and just hang and pick brains when needed. Can't do that much online. Getting film developed, ha, good luck. You have to go to Austin.
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Old 01-09-2017   #42
scott kirkpatrick
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I spent several years in high school hanging out at the local camera store, knew the staff well. Used to do the same at Willoughby-Peerless in Chicago in the '70s. And I've gotten good advice, loaners, etc. from Calumet in Cambridge, MA before they closed a few years back. Keble&Schuhat in Palo Alto was always worth a visit (the store that Godfrey mentioned) -- I understand that their camera collection will have a new existence in some space close to where the store was. And FotoSchwartz in Jerusalem, a tiny little shop, has a few knowledgeable people. They keep no longer legal batteries deep in the drawer for older cameras, and a small supply of chemicals and papers. It is art students who provide a market for these, apparently.

Availability and sales taxes complicate my life, and internet purchase for any major equipment is the only solution. In Europe, VAT of about 20% is standard. For a business, this is a pass-through, but for a consumer it is just a sales tax. It can be avoided by internet purchases with shipment to another state in the US or outside of the EC, so I end up trading taxes for shipment costs and storage until I can get to the US to collect things. And gear on the shelf is pretty limited in Israel. The headaches of shipping something from Israel to where it can be repaired and getting it back fixed without paying customs duties are also significant, but can be managed.

scott

PS: Note that avoiding sales tax in the US by collecting your stuff in a state other than NY (for B&H) or CA (for Popflash and Cameraquest) will go away someday. Amazon has already started charging sales tax almost everywhere since they have a presence, well, almost everywhere.

Last edited by scott kirkpatrick : 01-09-2017 at 23:08. Reason: PS
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Old 01-10-2017   #43
jsrockit
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I'm spoiled in that I live in NYC and I can still go to a few stores. However, where I differ is that I don't necessarily like sales people or gear talk (though my friends seem to love it). The internet allows me to bypass the annoying part of the process... sales people. That said, there are exceptions. In the early 90s, I enjoyed going to one camera store a lot. Dover Camera.
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Old 01-10-2017   #44
dasuess
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
I'm spoiled in that I live in NYC and I can still go to a few stores. However, where I differ is that I don't necessarily like sales people or gear talk (though my friends seem to love it). The internet allows me to bypass the annoying part of the process... sales people. That said, there are exceptions. In the early 90s, I enjoyed going to one camera store a lot. Dover Camera.
I'm kind of the same way, but what I dislike is sales people that know less about the camera than I do. I used to work in a camera store many (many) years ago so I know how hard it is to keep up with new models. And it's harder still with all the info available on the internet. But when it's obvious I know more than the guy behind the counter, I walk away.

I usually buy over the internet; however, when I purchased my Nikon Df, I did it in the store, in person. Mostly because they let me bring in all my old Nikon MF glass and try out on the camera.
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Old 01-10-2017   #45
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I'm kind of the same way, but what I dislike is sales people that know less about the camera than I do... But when it's obvious I know more than the guy behind the counter, I walk away.
Exactly...
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Old 01-10-2017   #46
mich rassena
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I'd like to visit my local store and help keep them in business, but over the last decade or so, I've become increasingly frustrated with them. Normally I'm averse to sales and being sold, but their sales tactics are like reverse psychology. They're the most reluctant sales people I've ever met. I could deal with that, but rarely do they have what I want in stock. Sometimes they have fixer, sometimes they have developer, sometimes they have paper. When I get the itch to shoot a few rolls of film, or use the dark room, I don't want to wait a week for a package to arrive, I want it now. When a local brick and mortar business can't harness the one advantage it has over the online world, what's it good for? I live in a rural region and the nearest camera store in any direction is at least 250 miles away. But with the plethora of choices available online they can't act like they're the only game in town.
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Old 01-10-2017   #47
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A camera store I used to frequent was The Camera Trading Company on Bank street in Ottawa. The two owners in this small shop will talk your ear off about stories about each piece of history that catches your eye. Though their prices aren't as competitive as some online sources for used camera equipment, the opportunity to look through their stock and learn about film photography was certainly worth the price. Unfortunately, they're closing down in April. I managed to snag a very good deal on a Rollei 35 SE while I was in town last. Here's a brief video on the store if you're interested.

Since moving to Toronto in March, I've discovered a wonderful gem on Queen street: Downtown Camera. Very conveniently located if you're ever in town for a visit, they have tons of fresh stock of film as well as full lab services. The customer service here is amazing and will make sure you're happy with your purchase. Their selection is great and every time I visit it's usually bustling with photographers of all ages. They typically do a film photo challenge every year in which amateurs and advanced photographers participate. I did it this year and had a blast. Of particular note is the amount of younger photographers who are getting into film photography for the first time. Seeing their reaction when they pull out their prints or contact sheets puts a smile on my face.
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Old 01-10-2017   #48
Uncle Bill
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I live out in the west end Suburbs of Toronto On Canada in Oakville. We have a chain store called Henry's which does nothing for me. Now I'm blessed to be in the middle of two local stores, Burlington Camera with a great used camera selection, darkroom section, decent lab services and great staff. Over in Toronto is Downtown Camera and I use them to buy paper and darkroom supplies. We have a nice little online retailer called Argentix.ca that sells niche films and chemicals.

My purchases at B&H are pretty much film, and more film. In particular Ilford and Kodak colour products. Kodak pricing is insane and talking to people at Burlington and Downtown Camera and the culprit is a predatory distributor who oddly enough really isn't in the photographic business, and I flat out refuse to $18 CAD for a roll of Ektar 100.
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