The iconic The New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham passed away on June 25 in a Manhattan hospital. He was 87.
He was his own man. Not one to follow trends, he set, and of course, covered them.
Long before Mark Zuckerberg famously dropped out of Harvard “to do his thing”, Bill Cunningham did so. His fascination for women’s hat designs (that he acquired during Sunday masses at the church) led him out of Harvard before he became a writer for the Chicago Tribune.
And Bill Cunningham, long before Brandon Stanton and his Humans Of New York came into existence, captured the streets of NYC and made street fashion photography a thing.
He photographed everything from casual passersby to New York’s gay pride parades in their early days, voguers strutting through downtown New York and the now-renowned but then-obscure parties of Fire Island Pines.
He covered the fashion of guests and donators at AIDS benefits as thoroughly as he did the exhibits on the runways of New York Fashion Week. Bill Cunningham’s photography helped normalise contentious issues at the time in the mass media, treated a respectful curiosity.
The popular, and famed, The New York Times feature On The Street was born from his photography, and nurtured over the years by his constant and considerable contributions, preferring personal style and expressions of identity in the characters of the city rather than ostentatious celebrity.
Bill Cunningham, in the art of his pictures, continues to astonish us.
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