The American fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, whose career was built upon capturing runway shows and street photography in New York, started working as a milliner before writing for Women’s Wear Daily and the Chicago Tribune. It was while writing for these publications that he began to take photographs of fashion on the streets of New York as a self-taught photographer. Such images, including a famous shot of Greta Garbo in a nutria coat, launched his career at the New York Times in the early 1970s, where he ran two columns: “On the Street” and “Evening Hours”.
Mounted on a bike in his signature black sneakers, blue workman’s jacket and camera, Cunningham covered the streets of New York City and caught the passing trends of the people in it, often finding more of interest there than at runway shows and preferring personal style to celebrity. His motivation was always to photograph things he thought were important, such as the gay pride parade from its earliest days. Most of his pictures were never published.
In 2008 Cunningham was awarded the Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture; in 2009 he was named a “living landmark” by the New York Landmarks Conservancy; in 2012 he received the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence. A documentary of his life, Bill Cunningham New York, was released in 2011.