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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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What an awesome film standard, Watch Gene Smith's The Loft
Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1
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What an awesome film standard, Watch Gene Smith's The Loft

I should have noticed this a few years ago, its an incredibly important project documenting W. Eugene Smith's love of Jazz,
but its arguably much more important showing today's new film photographers what serious silver film analog photography is at its best.
Who else would use up a 250 sheet box of paper to turn out ONE print?

In my opinion The Jazz Loft Project book and the DVD are MUST HAVES if you are serious about B/W film photography.
How good is it? Well, I don't think there is anything better to teach a newbie about serious B/W photography by showing what can be attained.
An added bonus is that RFF's own Bill Pierce is one of the featured speakers.

Notice Gene Smith shot with cameras and lenses that would be viewed as obsolete and mediocre by many of today's self rated review experts,
yet no one today is turning out better images than W. Eugene Smith.

You will find the history of the wonderful Jazz Loft project Jazz Loft the Movie Jazz Loft Book Review

What started out as a wonderful book turned into a wonderful DVD and a wonderful on demand Amazon Prime video (no doubt available via other streaming services as well).
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #2
Joe DuPont
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This is an absolutely wonderful and intriguing movie. Saw it a few years ago when it first came out. So glad that it's available on Amazon. Highly recommended!


"The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words." - Elliott Erwitt
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #3
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Totally agree. Have the Jazz Loft Movie on Apple TV and have watched it numerous times.

Highly recommend.

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #4
Guy Pinhas
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Just watched this over the weekend. Great documentary indeed and made me spend my Sunday listening to Monk (solo work) and Hall Overton (whatever I could find). What I also really enjoyed is the subtext of what NYC was and what was possible to do there.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #5
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I'm almost through the movie, thanks for bringing it to our attention.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #6
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i somehow missed this one, thank for the links
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #7
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A few years ago there was a podcast about the Jazz Loft and Smith which is probably related to the movie. Fascinating. I think it was through PBS, but I don't recall.

Looked it up-

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #8
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I bought the DVD and I watch it periodically.
Not too long ago in fact. So excellent in all ways.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
― Mark Twain
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #9
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Thanks for heads up; just watched it. I'm not really a big jazz fan, or of W. Eugene Smith for that matter, but what an amazing time! A fine film: somehow able to balance the excitement of the jazz with the deterioration of Smith. Watching the emotion of Smith's son was devastating.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #10
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This is wonderful, I've never heard of this documentary until now. Here's a great article I just found.


and speaking of his cameras, here's a thread from earlier.

~Loving Every Image Captured Always~
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