Bill Pierce (photographer)

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Bill Pierce
Alma materPrinceton University
Years activefrom the 1960s
AwardsOverseas Press Best Photoreporting from Abroad (1982)

World Press Budapest Award (1988)

Leica Medal of Excellence (1989)

Bill Pierce (born in 1935, Waterbury) is a freelance photographer and journalist with a background in theater, who is based in New York City.


Pierce was a graduate of Princeton University. He is a self-taught photographer and apprenticed with W. Eugene Smith.[1]

News photography [...] does require amazing concentration and really good reflexes.

Bill Pierce,
in Time History's Greatest Images
The World's 100 Most Influential Photographs[2]

He was a photojournalist more than 20 years, during which he covered worldwide events from the civil wars in Beirut and Lebanon to the demonstrators' call for democracy[3] in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. His first experience photographing armed conflict was the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The first war he photographed was in Northern Ireland beginning in 1973, doing so off and on for almost a decade. In 1976 Roger Rosenblatt wrote an original story about this, expanded the text into the book Children of War and turned Pierce into one of its characters.[1][4] A few of his photographs were featured in the book as illustrations. The book won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1984.[5] In 1983 he and Bill Foley were assaulted and threatened with death by Syrian soldiers while they were trying to enter the Bekka Valley[6] in Lebanon, but they reached Tripoli safely.[7]

Pierce's work appears in major international publications such as Time. He acted as contributing editor to Popular Photography for 15 years and Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Life, Paris Match, The New York Times Magazine and Stern. He was also a writer for Camera 35 magazine and Popular Photography.[8] His works are represented by private collectors[9] and in exhibitions, books, permanent museum collections, such as of the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

He contributed four chapters on black-and-white film and artificial lighting to the 15th edition of the book “Leica Manual” in 1974.[10] He was also featured as an interviewee in the 2015 documentary The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith.[11]

He was one of dozens of photographers—along with Neil Selkirk and Gary Miller—who have made stills of the ″Sesame Street mob″ between the years 1970 and 1982.[12][13][14]

He has given photographic lectures in The New School,[15] and on the ″Leica College Seminar″.

He has two sons, one of whom is also a photographer.[10]


- Science & Technology (1st prize singles; from a demonstration of the Meissner effect)
- Budapest Award (Individual awards; with the same picture)
- Daily Life (Honorable Mention prize singles; from a homeless in Philadelphia)
- Olivier Rebbot Award ("Coverage of ordinary people in times of war")(note1)
  • 1975 18th World Press Photo contest[17][20]
- General Features (2nd prize singles; Research on the workings of the brain)

Some of his permanent collections[edit]


  • ^(note1) OPC Award is for the best photoreportage from Beirut and Northern Ireland covering the book Children of War.


  1. ^ a b Bultman, Janis (December 1984). "Ticket to Danger: An Interview with Bill Pierce". Darkroom Photography. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  2. ^ "76. A Farewell Gesture / Richard Nixon Departs the White House • Bill Pierce • Aug. 9, 1974 in Time History's Greatest Images BLAD 2012". Retrieved 2 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "World Monitor: 1989". July 1989. Cover photo (Demonstrators call for democracy in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. … Photo ©Bill Pierce/Sygma)
  4. ^ Roger Rosenblatt (1983). "Chapter 2 and the Epilogue". Children of War. Anchor Press, Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-18250-3. (online: Google Books)
  5. ^ "1984 Book Award". Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 17 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ A recent incident in Lebanon Popular Photography vol. 90 no. 11, p.93. – November 1983
  7. ^ A Letter From The Publisher Time Vol. 121 No. 24 – Monday, June 13, 1983
  8. ^ Kathryn Harris (Oct 21, 1977). "Participants at photo course get tips from top U.S. lensmen". St. Petersburg Times. p. 40.
  9. ^ "Bill Pierce's..." The Candid Frame. 31 August 2014.
  10. ^ a b Mary Grace Poidomani (24 April 1974). "First program of its kind – Leica sponsors photo seminar". Digital Daily Kent Stater Archive. Daily Kent Stater, Volume XVIII, Number 94. Retrieved 10 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Bill Pierce (XVI) at IMDb
  12. ^ "New York City". American Photographer. 8: 15. 1982.
  13. ^ Lily Rothman (10 November 2014). "5 Things You Didn't Know About the Early (Sunny) Days of Sesame Street". Retrieved 10 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Michael Davis (2008). Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. ISBN 9781440658754.
  15. ^ "Focus 83". Popular Photography vol. 90 no. 6, p.164. June 1983. Retrieved 9 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ A Day in the Life of Italy. 1990. Collins Publishers San Francisco
  17. ^ a b "Bill Pierce Photographer, USA". Retrieved 23 November 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "1988 Photo Contest". Retrieved 23 November 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ David Kline (15 August 1983). "Portables". InfoWorld. p. 33. Retrieved 20 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ "1975 Photo Contest". Retrieved 23 November 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ "Search Term: "Bill Pierce"". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 9 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. ^ "Ellis Rabb papers 1930–1995 and undated". New York Public Library – Archives & Manuscripts. Retrieved 9 December 2015. (Box 53, 54, 55) CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]