Friday, January 3, 2014

{photographer profile: bill cunningham}

Well, it's a new year, I'm home from New York City and I can't seem to get it out of my mind! I'm sure many of you can attest to this 'pulling' effect that the Big Apple seems to have on people. Last night I finally got around to watching the documentary chronicling the career of the New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. Although I didn't have the pleasure of catching a glimpse of Bill riding around town on his bicycle, I was completely inspired after learning more about the brilliant and kind man behind decades NYC of fashion photography.

His life is quite fascinating - I won't spoil it all, you need to watch the film {available on Canadian and American Netflix by the way!}, but it was just incredible to learn of his career path, his long-time residence at the infamous Carnegie Hall, and his passion for clothing. Born in Boston, Cunningham dropped out of Harvard University in 1948 and moved to New York City. He began making hats under the name "William J," but the business unfortunately folded when he was drafted to the U.S. Army. Years later, he returned to New York and started writing for the Chicago Tribune. Along the way he worked for Women's Wear Daily, and now of course has his popular regular series in the New York Times.


Bill photographs people and the passing scene in the streets of Manhattan every day. He states that he only desires to photograph interesting clothing - not people, and therefore is seldom snapping pictures of 'celebrities' or people that use fame to showcase clothing they didn't originally pick themselves (sponsored, free clothing). I love that! He also has no interest in large sums of money - Bill was quoted stating "You see if you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do kid." Designer Oscar de la Renta has said, "More than anyone else in the city, he has the whole visual history of the last 40 or 50 years of New York. It's the total scope of fashion in the life of New York." 

Michael Bastian Spring 2014 Bill Cunningham jacket, inspired by the man himself

"We all get dressed for Bill," stated Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

What is most fascinating to me is the love Cunningham has for his work, the passion he has for the clothing, and the sheer respect he has for the women he photographs. So much so that when Women's Wear Daily used his photographs to negatively portray women in a 'who wore it best' column without his permission, he quit his job.

I'll echo what the critics reported after the release of this documentary on a living legend - if you haven't already, do yourself a favor and watch "Bill Cunningham New York."


Katy Byrne said...

OH I'm going to have to download this. Have you seen Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf? Also a good one


Brandyn | Southern Distinctions said...

This is on my list! I loved how during fashion week everyone was instagraming pics of Bill taking pics of everyone else. He's such a wonderful part of NY!

Tracey Ayton Photography said...

First off ….. I need another trip to NYC ASAP! If I could watch Bill taking pics, that would be the icing on the cake of a trip to the big apple. Love him.

Pinecone Camp said...

I've watched that documentary many times, and can't delete it! He's a pretty amazing man. Happy new year nancy!

Jourdan Parker said...

If you loved this, you'll love "Vogue - The Editor's Eye" and "Diana Vreeland - The Eye Has to Travel" - both amazing films! So looking forward to the Maysles Brothers doco on Iris Apfel

Sara Apaza said...

Is a fascinating photographer. I admire his humility and his love for fashion <3

Related Posts with Thumbnails

© 2010-2017 Nancy Marcus. All Rights Reserved. | Blog Design By Brittany Douglas