Famed Photographer Bill Cunningham Dies at 87

published Jun 26, 2016
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(Image credit: CreditFirst Thought Films/Zeitgeist Films)

Legendary New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham died on Saturday at the age of 87. He had been hospitalized recently after a stroke.

Born in Boston in 1929, Cunningham moved to New York after dropping out of Harvard. He started out as a hat designer, and when the fashions became less formal in the 1960s, he picked up a camera instead. Street style quickly became his subject, and he took daily assignments for the Chicago Tribune and the Daily News, and then became a regular contributor to the Times in the late ’70s.

Cunningham, a major contributor to the original Details magazine (where he would famously rip up his paychecks), turned down multiple staff positions at magazines and publications, until accepting the Times in 1994 after a bike accident “[for the] health insurance.” Despite photographing up to 20 galas in a weekend, he was no frills; he wore the same uniform, ate the same breakfast, and slept on a cot amongst files of his negatives. “Money’s the cheapest thing,” he once said. “Liberty and freedom is the most expensive.”

(Image credit: Bill Cunningham/New York Times)

“To see a Bill Cunningham street spread was to see all of New York. Young people. Brown people. People who spent fortunes on fashion and people who just had a strut and knew how to put an outfit together out of what they had and what they found,” said Dean Baquet, Times executive editor.

As Vogue EIC Anna Wintour said in the documentary about him, “We all get dressed for Bill.”

Read more about Bill Cunningham’s incredible life over on the New York Times.