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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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Chuck Westfall
Old 03-17-2018   #1
Bill Pierce
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Chuck Westfall

A week ago Chuck Westfall called to say he was losing his long battle against cancer, Yesterday he passed away. Among his many responsibilities at Canon was representing the company to photographers and the press. His knowledge of photography was exceptional. But the understanding and generosity and warmth with which he shared that knowledge made him one of the most liked and admired in the profession. That was one half of Chuck Westfall. The other half was his family, Ying, his wife, and Anna, his daughter, and the extended family. He was the happiest husband and father, the most loving and probably the best. This gracious and kind man will be missed.
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Old 03-17-2018   #2
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Many people may not realize how far back Chuck's role in our community went. Our gracious host will remember the old CompuServe photography forum, where both he and Chuck were regulars. Chuck was very helpful to me as I learned about the then-new Canon EOS system, patiently responding to all sorts of questions both basic and esoteric.

I had the chance to meet him in person only once, briefly, at a local trade show. But even as we worry today about the downsides of the Internet, Chuck's career reflects one of its great benefits - it allowed him to interact directly with and to help many more people and in a more personalized way than would ever have been possible before. He recognized early the potential of this new tool and made the most of it.

A life well lived, and a great loss indeed.
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Old 03-17-2018   #3
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I recall his technical tips on the old "Digital Journalist" website. He was always open and willing to help. Although I never met him, his kindness was evident. He will be missed.
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Old 03-18-2018   #4
ASA 32
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Gosh, what a loss! Never a kinder, more friendly or helpful person. Godspeed, Chuck!
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Old 03-18-2018   #5
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Many, many years back, on some Canon forum I was on, Chuck was the first to explain the mystery of the Canon date code system (the series of numbers and letters on the back of lenses and inside Canon film camera bodies). Sorry to hear he’s gone. Condolences to the family.

Jim B.
My fancy-schmancy gallery:

My RFF Gallery:
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Old 03-19-2018   #6
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That is a nice write-up about your friend, well done.
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