“With a press pass around his neck and a camera bag over his shoulder, in the middle
of a cross fire – Bill was in heaven.”

Wendy Doremus, Bill's Wife

“If he had left when he promised to, for
the rest of his life he would have been
bitching about how we made him miss
the photo of the second tower falling.”

Bill Biggart, Jr.

“One thing Bill taught me was that
sometimes the picture is behind you,
in the faces of people watching."

Tom McKitterick, Friend & Photographer

Links, Publications and Exhibitions

Publications:Christian Science Monitor, The Village Voice, The New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsweek, US News and World Report, Time, The City Sun, The Villager & many other worldwide publications.

Books: Ireland: A Week in the Life of A Nation (1986 U.K.) Running Towards Danger: Stories Behind the Breaking News of 9/11 (2002, Newseum)

Exhibits: Aftermath: Reflections on The Anniversary of September 11 Bill Biggart: Final Exposures International Center of Photography, New York City, 2002

News Agencies:Reuters, Agence France Press, Sipa Press, Impact Visuals

 

 

 

Larger than life

The path that eventually led Bill to the World Trade Center the morning of 9/11 took him through Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Berlin, and deep into the heart of racism in his own country. He never stopped moving until the end.

As a spot news photographer, Bill chose to cover stories that most interested him, not the ones an editor selected. He focused on presenting the minority side – the Palestinians in the Middle East, the Catholic/IRA “troubles” in Ireland, and the issues of natives, blacks and gays in America.

Bill was born in Berlin in 1947, the pacifist son of a conservative Army officer. Raised in a rambunctious family of 12 children, Bill grew up learning to express his opinion - loudly and demonstrably if needed. Politics was often a heated topic of conversation and it affected his life at an early age. His family was forced to leave Berlin on one of the last trains before the Berlin Wall was erected.

In New York, Bill worked as a commercial photographer, while also pursuing his passion for photojournalism. In 1973, he went to Wounded Knee to cover the American Indian protest movement. He somehow got past the FBI perimeter and was captured by the besieged protestors who assumed he was a federal agent. His gift for gab got him released, but some of his film was confiscated.

In 1985, Bill received his first press card and immediately closed his studio. He left commercial photography behind and entered the world of black and white photojournalism. He hated color and only came back to it when he grudgingly accepted digital photography methods.

Over the years following, Bill photographed racism in New York, the KKK in the South, the Palestinian uprising and refugee camps in Israel, the life of people in Northern Ireland, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. He was one of the first members of a cooperative photo agency, Impact Visuals, which was devoted to issues of social change and alternative news.

Aside from photography, Bill loved gardening, planting street trees in New York, sailing his boat, listening to Yankee games with his sons, and living in the center of what he considered the greatest city on earth. He died there at the age of 54. A life fully, fiercely and passionately lived.

Bill is survived by his wife, Wendy Doremus, and three children – Bill Jr., Kate and Peter.