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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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Just plain silly..
Old 02-04-2014   #1
Bill Pierce
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Just plain silly..

The latest in the long, slow decline from greatness...


http://petapixel.com/2014/02/04/28k-...hrom-cant-one/
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Old 02-04-2014   #2
Thardy
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What's the problem? It was signed, endorsed and practically drooled on by Ralph.
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Old 02-04-2014   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
The latest in the long, slow decline from greatness...


http://petapixel.com/2014/02/04/28k-...hrom-cant-one/
Leica, Gibson, or both?
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Old 02-04-2014   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
The latest in the long, slow decline from greatness...


http://petapixel.com/2014/02/04/28k-...hrom-cant-one/
I can't say I like the idea of making expensive 'Limited Editions' of digital cameras, as it all just reeks of consumerism. However, Leica needs to turn a profit, and that's their priority.
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Old 02-04-2014   #5
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As long as there are snobbish and arrogant elitists with money to burn, Leica will be more than happy to help them burn it; after all, it is not Leica that is the fall guy in this transaction (the $28,000 camera sale).

That having been said, I agree with Bill's thoughts in his original post.
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Old 02-04-2014   #6
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Decline?

I suppose Leica doesn't have a history of producing many limited editions... :S
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Old 02-04-2014   #7
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I think its a bit naf really. Mainly the signature on the top.
Although, if it didn't have the signature on the top, and if it was not much than a standard kit, and if I had the money, then I would have snapped one up. I know thats a lot of if's, but I think it looks sweet.
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Old 02-04-2014   #8
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So we have established that whats-his-name's autograph is worth $20k and the camera is worth $8k.
Isn't that sick?
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Old 02-04-2014   #9
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I think that Gibson in Nashville should issue a Gibson Les Paul guitar that is a Ralph Gibson signed edition.

It would be a Gibson Gibson Les Paul, a triple signature guitar that will sell for even greater money than the usual high price.
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Old 02-04-2014   #10
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I rather see the rich invest in Leica than buying some sand island in the shape of their country off the Dubai coast. If these sort of collector series help to keep Leica as independent brand afloat, who's to complain?
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Old 02-04-2014   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
Leica, Gibson, or both?
Leica. Ralph is a good photographer. One of his prints has hang in my living room for a long time. And I'm one of those terrible people who moves pictures out of the living room and into the closet when I get tired of them.
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Old 02-04-2014   #12
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Frankly I can't get worked up over it.

People with large amounts of disposable income have been buying shiny, shiny baubles for ever for 'investment'. Look at the art market.

If it helps Leica's bottom line, and Gibson's happy about it, fine.
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Old 02-04-2014   #13
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A "Gibson-edition" Leica WITH frame-line preview lever ? Wasn`t the special thing about the "Gibson MP" the omitted preview lever ?

Nevertheless, US$28K for a digital camera seems a little bit over the top, IMO ... but it seems there are enough people willing to pay this amount of money. Good for Leica, keeps them in business.
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Really?
Old 02-04-2014   #14
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Really?

P.T. Barnum was right.
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Old 02-04-2014   #15
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I agree it's silly to make a camera that won't be used to take photos. It will just be ogled by buyers who are trying to fill some emptiness through purchasing. And it doesn't endow the buyer with the creative ability unique to the person the camera is named after. However, if this puts more money in Leica's coffers, and helps camera stores, then I personally don't care. I'd like an M -- who wouldn't? But I wouldn't pay over 3K for one. And even then I'd need 2 appropriate lenses. It's kind of like buying an expensive limited edition guitar endorsed by this or that musician.
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Old 02-04-2014   #16
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I was informed I was the 37th bidder. Could Bill have been the 36th? Just saying.
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Old 02-04-2014   #17
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Leica could put a red dot on a turd and someone would buy it.
Sorry to be that vulgar but it's the truth. The same goes for any luxury good with a marque that is also a status symbol.

Back in 2003-2005, I hung out with a lot of bluegrass players. I got to meet a lot of the folks I had grown up listening to. There was a 14 year old kid who got a present; one of David Grisman's old, seasoned mandolins. The instrument sounded amazing when played well but when inexperienced players, myself included, tried to make music with it, it just sounded not as good. The same goes for this camera. Without Gibson shooting it, it is just another Monocrom.

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Old 02-04-2014   #18
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$28k... That's awesome! Why not...$100k ?

Seems $28k is arbitrary. Why aim so low with a "limited" edition?
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Old 02-04-2014   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
Leica could put a red dot on a turd and someone would buy it.
Sorry to be that vulgar but it's the truth.

Phil Forrest
If it were a turd that had been signed by Henri Cartier-Bresson twelve years ago and then flash flash frozen with liquid nitrogen, it would probably sell for a mid six figure sum.

Quote:
... The same goes for any luxury good with a marque that is also a status symbol.
I (and apparently more than a few others) find it distasteful that Leica cameras and lenses have come to be regarded as status symbols.

M cameras were born to run - created for photographic greatness, not to bolster the needy egos of mega-wealthy dilletantes and celebritwat posers.

Unfortunately those who run the home office in Solms have made mega-wealthy dilettantes and celebritwat posers their target market, much to the discomfiture of real photographers.
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Old 02-04-2014   #20
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The last time I bought a Leica M was in 88..when I got my m6..
I still have it..
The last time I got a Leica lens was at least 12 years ago..an f1 noct..at $1300- for mint..
Still have it..
But today..
Leica m's are the cams of shooters of family babies..barkin dogs...and the kitty cat..
Or in Ralph Gibsons world..the nude pussy..hahaah...just kiddin..
But..
I used to work the color printer in a photo lab..and we got tons of those kind of dog and cat pics everyday...and way too many..droolin babies...from $20- point and shoot cams only though..not Leica M's..
Oh..the world has changed..
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Old 02-04-2014   #21
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Ralph Gibson will never get to the end of its capabilities because his current life expectancy is 3 years….

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Old 02-04-2014   #22
Emile de Leon
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3 years expectancy..is way longer than the life expectancy..of the M240..
Which is pretty much gurranteed to go back to the factory for repairs..right out of the box..or soon after..
And in a short year or 2..be relegated..to the life of ..an ice rink hockey puck..or doorstop..
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Old 02-04-2014   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dante_Stella View Post
Ralph Gibson will never get to the end of its capabilities because his current life expectancy is 3 years….

Dante
Well played!

Quote:
Originally Posted by noisycheese View Post
I (and apparently more than a few others) find it distasteful that Leica cameras and lenses have come to be regarded as status symbols.

M cameras were born to run - created for photographic greatness, not to bolster the needy egos of mega-wealthy dilletantes and celebritwat posers.

Unfortunately those who run the home office in Solms have made mega-wealthy dilettantes and celebritwat posers their target market, much to the discomfiture of real photographers.
I'm right there with you.

Phil Forrest
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Old 02-04-2014   #24
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I run a programme about business planning and strategy for senior execs. These guys have hobbies that consume money at rapid rates: Ocean sailing, golf trips, classic cars, not classic cars, aircraft and so on. I used the analogy of a Swiss watch to demonstrate what happens to the money when a person pays $1,000,000 for a diamond encrusted watch. The great aspect about this retail event is the way in which the money gets quickly distributed to the artisans, contractors, households of the employees of multiple and various suppliers right through to the raw material miners, exploited or not.
I applaud any vehicle that takes money out of the pockets of those who do not need it and place it in the pockets of those who do - it's a bit like a wealth tax - and Leica have been doing this for some years.
like Emile above, it has been a long time since I acquired my only 'new' film camera, a Leica M6 in 1989 followed shortly after by the purchase of a new 28mm. I have no interest in digital or for that matter new Leicas but am happy to see them finding a way to survive in the current madness.
Analogue Photography has emerged as a niche with the advent of digital, and so has returned to the domain of the enthusiast and I like that too. I hope that film outlasts me as a product and that Leica continue to feed the secondhand market with film cameras that I might buy in years to come.
Love Ralph's pictures, he found a unique voice.
I'm off to have my top plate silvered.
kevin
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Old 02-05-2014   #25
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Leica has been doing this for decades and so it's nothing new really. Look at all those special editions from the Brunei edition to the Hermes, etc..

Anyway, $28k for a multimillionaire or billionaire is the pretty much the same thing as you and I buying a generic Leica for $5k. It's all relative.

I do agree that it can be disturbing seeing a product being sold primarily for its bling and not just for its functionality. It's kind of like seeing the same car you drive (and saved your hard earned cash to buy) all ghetto-ized with gold trim and 20" rims by some baller from the 'hood.
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Old 02-05-2014   #26
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Nah ... I'm saving for the McLaren P1.
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Old 02-05-2014   #27
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Decline from greatness?

Oh, come on.

Ever heard of a Leica Luxus?

What's "silly" about limited editions to make a profit and keep Leica in business?

Yes, from my point of view, anyone who buys one of these is silly, but then, people who buy expensive gym shoes are pretty silly too.

If the camera were downright ugly and useless, like the Apple Leica, that would be a lot sillier -- except that as I recall, that was sold for charity which is not silly at all.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-05-2014   #28
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A Rolex or Piaget watch will keep time as accurately a my ratty 30+ year old Seiko. I'm pretty sure my old Nikon F3 will perform as well as a Leica M9.

I think it is OK to sport status symbols if we like, but lets call things what they are.
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Old 02-05-2014   #29
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Leica should make an internal policy that for ever dumb limited edition special they sell, they should donate an MP with a single lens to a random school's photography club. it could even be a demo model.

i suppose an M7 would be ok too, but less optimal.
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Old 02-05-2014   #30
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Everytime one of these special edition cameras is released, someone makes a thread. Get over it... Leica is not stopping this behavior and it isn't the 1950s.
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Old 02-05-2014   #31
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Quote:
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A Rolex or Piaget watch will keep time as accurately a my ratty 30+ year old Seiko. ...
I wouldn't bank on it.
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Old 02-05-2014   #32
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Quote:
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A Rolex or Piaget watch will keep time as accurately a my ratty 30+ year old Seiko. I'm pretty sure my old Nikon F3 will perform as well as a Leica M9.

I think it is OK to sport status symbols if we like, but lets call things what they are.
A Leica is not inherently a status symbol. It's merely a very expensive camera. But if you want a full-frame digital rangefinder camera, it's the only game in town.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-05-2014   #33
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But if you want a full-frame digital rangefinder camera, it's the only game in town.
Yep, and that, in itself, can't be cheap to make in the relatively small numbers that Leica deals in.
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Old 02-05-2014   #34
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Leica should make an internal policy that for ever dumb limited edition special they sell, they should donate an MP with a single lens to a random school's photography club. it could even be a demo model.

i suppose an M7 would be ok too, but less optimal.
Why? And what's dumb about special editions? If they keep Leica in business, what is your problem?

Also, how many school photography clubs are you familiar with? From the careful way you have thought this through, I suspect that the answer is "none". I've run a couple.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-05-2014   #35
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Quote:
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Everytime one of these special edition cameras is released, someone makes a thread. Get over it... Leica is not stopping this behavior and it isn't the 1950s.
Or indeed the 1920s, when the gold plated/lizard skin Luxus was introduced: see http://www.bonhams.com/press_release/11995/

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-05-2014   #36
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Roger, my reference to the 1950s was more about it seemingly being the heyday for Leica for most folks at RFF... not in regard to special editions.
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Old 02-05-2014   #37
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I bought 34 of them. Wonder who got the 35th?

(Hay, it was either this or feed a small village in Africa for a year.)
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Old 02-05-2014   #38
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Roger, my reference to the 1950s was more about it seemingly being the heyday for Leica for most folks at RFF... not in regard to special editions.
Indeed; you are of course quite right. I was just trying to remind others -- not you -- that (a) Leicas are and have always been expensive cameras; (b) have been made as special editions for over 80 years; (c) are not status symbols unless you are the kind of person that cares about status symbols, rather than the sort of person who likes rangefinder cameras as a means of taking pictures.

What puzzles me is which is sillier: whingeing and snivelling about cameras we're not going to buy (sometimes the default RFF position for some people) or making limited-edition cameras to help keep a great company in business.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-05-2014   #39
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I am still upset that Leica is producing digital cameras just because there is a market for them

(the fact that they probably make more profit on a Monochrome then they did on all of my film cameras put together is no excuse)
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Old 02-05-2014   #40
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I try not to comment on these things, but I just wonder how the cost of this camera compares to the cost of Ralph Gibson's prints..
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