New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham dies at 87

Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:32am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bill Cunningham, the celebrated New York Times fashion photographer known for his shots of emerging trends on the streets of New York City, died on Saturday at age of 87 after being hospitalized for a stroke.

Cunningham worked for the New York Times for nearly 40 years, operating "as a dedicated chronicler of fashion and as an unlikely cultural anthropologist," the newspaper said.

His photo spreads were a staple of the paper's Style section and chronicled changing fashion through his choice of themes such as swirling skirts, Birkin bags and gaudy floral prints.

"A lot of people complain about fashion and fast fashion. There is no fashion. That is baloney. Look at this," he said in a video for a recent spread in the paper on the use of black and white contrasts in clothing.

Cunningham took pictures of celebrated New Yorkers at swank events and traveled the city by bicycle for decades, often wearing his signature blue jacket, to shoot street fashion typically using a single-lens reflex camera.

"He wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, rather than be observed. Asceticism was a hallmark of his brand," the newspaper said.

Cunningham, who had tried his hand at hat making, was drafted by the U.S. Army during the Korean War. After he got out in 1953, he eventually found work as a fashion reporter.

In the mid-1960s he acquired a small camera to help him with his work, and that started him off in fashion photography.

"I had just the most marvelous time with that camera. Everybody I saw I was able to record," he wrote in the Times in 2002.   Continued...

New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham arrives before the Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2016 collection during New York Fashion Week  in the Manhattan borough of New York, February 18, 2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri