I regularly watch out for documentaries that are photography related so when I heard the revue of ‘Bill Cunningham – New York’ on Five Live’s movie revue show so I thought I’d give it watch.
Firstly, it really isn’t about photography but it is very much about a photographer, and one very passionate about his specialist subject – street fashion. Don’t watch this if you want to hear about techniques or gear! If you’ve never heard of Bill he has a regular column in the New York Times where he features the latest fashion trends worn by real people, not the catwalk.
It’s clear from the outset he’s a very dedicated individual; now in his eighties and living in the Carnegie Hall in a room with none of the normal amenities we expect in homes – just storage for his photographs. He isn’t a digital guy…
It was interesting to see how approached people as despite his NYT column, he’s very much a street photographer and like me he rides around on his bike with a camera. That’s one big advantage of film SLR’s – they are smaller and lighter than many current top-end DSLR’s and one of the reasons I’ve invested in a compact system as well as my full-sized gear.
Bill is so unassuming and very easy for people to accept and it was fascinating how well known he was and also how keen people were to be photographed by him. His notoriety also gets him access into some great places and events which just goes to show that trust and reputation can go a long way – I get the impression Bill never let a bad picture of someone make it to print.
The film shows how Bill works, examples of his printed features and has interviews with him, his friends and subjects. It’s an interesting social piece and would be an ideal watch for those interested in fashion and fashion photography.