So it’s not quite a happy Monday for the world of photography. Before The Sartorialist, before Tommy Ton, before Humans of New York, and before the countless other street style photographers that have stepped into the fray since him, there was Bill Cunningham. To be honest, I’ve been preparing myself for this over the past decade, that I’ve been paying attention to his work. When we met, he was 77, and i was 22 and the sun was setting. For every tour, there is always an end. But it just means that another one will go on after. And I truly hope it does. Because Bill Cunningham helped to democratize style. And he did it without a care for the establishment nor the bastions of the fashion scene. He wasn’t aggressive. There’s a softness to his photos. They do not typically channel that of the harried street style photographer who chases after its garishly attired prey during Fashion Weeks. Bill was more like a bird. Sort of graceful on his street cycle, in his French work man’s jacket. He himself definitely had an avian-like frame. Observing movement and moments. Here and there. At all times of the year. Sleet and snow be damned. I write about him like I knew him. I didn’t. But I guess from looking at his photos every week, you really could get to know him. And that’s what art of photography should be about, no?
I didn’t intend to wax poetic at length about Bill. But I guess that’s just shows how influential he was to everyone. Before his passing this past weekend, I’d been planning a couple of projects that were inspired by him. They’d been sitting in the waiting for months and it was only in the past couple of weeks that I decided to get them off the ground. I’m really excited to share them with you. And without Bill, they probably would never have existed.
In the meantime, watch a few photographers, one could say Bill’s progeny, talk about their art, below (feminist moment: why are they all guys?!?!). And if you’ve got 90minutes to spare, Bill Cunningham New York. Mandatory viewing.