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Bill Cunningham

I was saddened to read about the passing of Bill Cunningham. I never met him, but I did spend a morning wandering around midtown, when I lived in New York, seeing if I could find him and then casually walk by as many times as necessary to end up in one of the, On the Street, videos.

What I find admirable about Bill Cunningham was his devotion to fashion and fashion photograph - a commitment that, frankly, I don't think is easily rivaled. When I first saw the documentary on him (currently available to stream with Amazon Prime, and a must-watch if you haven't seen it) the first thing I thought of was medieval monks, painstakingly hand-copying manuscripts onto vellum. It doesn't seem too absurd to compare it to Bill Cunningham out on his bike, every day, snapping, viewing, and cataloging hundreds of photos. He had almost a monk-like devotion to what seemed to bring him joy, and while I understand everyone can't devote that much time to their passion, I think his work ethic was admirable nonetheless.
I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite themes of his:

1. Blizzards
I could watch videos of people in business clothes jumping over dirty snow slush for days. Bill Cunningham was not afraid to go out and shoot in the elements, and I think he did a good job of capturing the slog in a New York winter.

2. Civilians
What I mean by, civilians, is that a repeating theme of these videos is his belief that celebrities aren't really who we should look to for fashion inspiration, and that he is most interested in people who actually spend their own money on their clothes, and don't just get them for free, to see what they are interested it and how they are creating and embracing trends. 

3. Annual Events
There are some events that he seemed to photograph annually - the NYC Marathon, the Easter parade, and the hanging of the nasturtium vines at the Isabella Stewart Gardner.

4. Fashion Week
Some of the best videos, IMHO, come from his coverage of fashion week - in NYC, Paris, and Milan, to name a few. I remember watching these years ago, and it was the first time I'd ever seen photos of Paris fashion week. He picks the most interesting dressers and I love watching these.

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