Bill Cunningham New York

by Sophie Kanakidi

If you’re looking for an inspiring and unique story from the life of a person, you’ve found it.

The documentary about Bill Cunningham, an American photographer, is essentially an example of the passion a person truly has when he is doing what he actually loves. What I really enjoyed was the way this documentary was shot because there were many vivid moments of Bill Cunningham, who used only his old bike to get from place to place, taking pictures of people’s outfits. To my mind, the director wanted to show us Bill from the most honest side he had, so that we would be able to see all intentions he worked for.

The film demonstrates how Bill turned fashion photography into his own cultural anthropology on the streets of New York. Nothing escaped his notice: not the fanny packs, not the Birkin bags, not the gingham shirts, not the fluorescent biker shorts. His friends and colleagues told him that the only thing Bill was focused on was his photography. Moreover, he never even shared about his private life, so he would not lose focus from his main goal. I noticed that he always was surrounded by diverse people, who had different styles, hair colours and social statuses. Bill gave attention mostly to clothes, not to persons, who owed them.

One of the moments that really reflects Bill’s personality was when he won an award, but couldn’t get comfortable with it, as he tried to shift the focus on other talented people. In other words, he wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, rather than be observed.

Personally, I rarely see this kind of people, who literally sacrifice their private life to devote themselves fully to the job they unconditionally love. Bill is the man who is completely free of pretension, a welcome and refreshing change of pace, a kind of throwback to a gentler, less harried era – and one of the most indelible characters to come from a documentary in a long time.

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