Image by Paul Stein on Flickr.
Today is a very sad day in the photography world as the NYTimes confirmed that photographer Bill Cunningham passed away at 87. Mr. Cunningham was a famous fashion photographer and in many ways the original true street fashion photographer. He was well known for the fact that he went against what many other photographers did for years and instead of shooting all the craziness on red carpets all the time, he went around NYC with his bike and every day photographed people who just happened to look very fashionable. For 40 years, Bill Cunningham worked for the NYTimes.
A few days ago, he suffered from a stroke, and many on the internet were praying that he would make a swift recovery. Mr. Cunningham is also the focus of a special documentary called Bill Cunningham New York; where we’re shown what his every day life was like.
For a while, Mr. Cunningham was narrating videos featuring his commentary on various pieces of street fashion and showcasing many of his photos. The series, On the Street, gave us an inner glance at things we most likely missed. He shot for many years on film until going to digital–and even in his apartment he kept massive archives of all his work.
According to the NYTimes story today:
“He didn’t go to the movies. He didn’t own a television. He ate breakfast nearly every day at the Stage Star Deli on West 55th Street, where a cup of coffee and a sausage, egg and cheese could be had until very recently for under $3. He lived until 2010 in a studio above Carnegie Hall amid rows and rows of file cabinets, where he kept all of his negatives. He slept on a single-size cot, showered in a shared bathroom and, when he was asked why he spent years ripping up checks from magazines like Details (which he helped Annie Flanders launch in 1982), said: “Money’s the cheapest thing. Liberty and freedom is the most expensive.”
His work went on to fascinate many street photographers and fashion photographers; and he will be very missed.