I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of New York Times Photographer Bill Cunningham.
He died on Saturday, June 25, 2016 at the age of 87. 87 may seem old, but if we’re in good health and spirits, wouldn’t we all like even more time?
He was definitely an institution and I'm delighted to share that I had a very brief encounter with him many years ago while walking up 5th Avenue near 59th St. It was a lovely, sunny day in New York City. It seemed everyone was out and enjoying their slice of life. In fact, I recall it was one of those days where everything about the city seems so charming and you thank God for giving you the five senses to take it all in.
Anyway, Mr. Cunningham was snapping rear-view photos of three young men, all of whom were wearing bright, plaid shirts and khakis. They were about to cross the street. It totally looked like an ad for The Gap. Cunningham was sort of crouched behind them, peering through the lens of his big, black camera and clicking away.
Stunned, I stopped and said, "Oh wow! Aren't you Bill Cunningham?" "Yes!" He replied with a big smile on his face. Then, another guy walking in the opposite direction toward us heard me say "Bill Cunningham" and he also recognized him and said, "Hey! Bill Cunningham!"
At this point, people started to gather and talk with Mr. Cunningham who was still beaming. But here's the thing. He wasn't smiling because strangers on the street recognized him. As I walked away, it was so clear to me that he was thrilled because he got a great shot. Photography - not notoriety - was obviously his bliss. His body of work easily attests to that.
To this day, I'm not certain that those young men knew that Cunningham was quietly and craftily immortalizing them, but boy, weren't they lucky?
It seems to me he followed his bliss until the very end. Rest in peace Mr. Cunningham.