Bill Cunningham — the New York Times street style photographer with a keen eye who earned a soft spot in the hearts of New Yorkers and many beyond — has died at age 87.
He was recently hospitalized for a stroke, and his employer of almost 40 years confirmed his death today.
Cunningham’s "On the Street" photography isn’t just a staple of the New York Times Style section; it's a window into how people dress and live that, because of his incredible commitment, spans decades. Cunningham was revered for his ability to spot trends and patterns before the fashion industry made them ubiquitous, just because they caught his eye. He counts some of the most influential people in fashion among his fans, like Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who has said of him with much affection, "We all get dressed for Bill."
But Cunningham didn’t care about celebrity, or about getting recognition for his photography. As Jacob Bernstein’s obituary for the New York Times puts it, "He wanted to find subjects, not be the subject."
This was the conundrum of the wonderful 2010 documentary Bill Cunningham New York. It let the world in on Cunningham’s life, in which he trundled around his tiny Carnegie Hall apartment, bicycled around the city, and searched the streets for the fantastic, magnetic people who inspired him.
Cunningham lived for his photography in every sense, and lived to find the sparkle in everyday life. To use his own words: "He who seeks beauty will find it."
See Cunningham’s final feature for the New York Times on black-and-white contrasts, or "Duality."