WBEZ | On the Street http://www.wbez.org/tags/street Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Undressing New York Times 'On the Street' photographer Bill Cunningham http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-05-21/undressing-new-york-times-street-photographer-bill-cunningham-86873 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-21/Bill-Cunningham-New-York-d.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-21/Bill-Cunningham-New-York-d.jpg" style="width: 498px; height: 280px;" title=""></p><p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/27/style/bill-on-bill.html">Bill Cunningham</a>, facing down a deadline, eggs himself on with the line ‘let’s get snapping and cracking’.&nbsp; Tthe photographer at work is the subject of the <a href="http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/billcunninghamnewyork/">new documentary </a><em>Bill Cunningham New York</em><a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/"> now at the Music Box</a>.</p><p>I’m a long-standing, (okay, rabid) fan of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/27/style/bill-on-bill.html">Cunningham’s New York Times column <em>On The Street</em></a>. It first appeared in print, and though Cunningham himself apparently isn’t fond of it, the <a href="http://video.nytimes.com/video/playlist/style/on-the-street/1247463985977/index.html.">audio slide-show version </a>of the print edition is a gift to devotees.&nbsp; Cunningham's voice - in all its quavery, enthusiastic glory – underscores his at once precise and spontaneous style.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-21/billcunninghamnewyork.photo01_sm.jpg" style="width: 146px; height: 82px; float: left; margin: 7px;" title=""><a href="http://streetpeeper.com/%20">Cunningham’s beat is street style</a> – which he calls the best fashion.&nbsp; Blogs dedicated to street level fashionistas have been all-the-rage for awhile.&nbsp; You can check out some Chicago sites <a href="http://www.chicagostreetstyle.com/">here</a> and <a href="http://chicagolooks.blogspot.com/">here</a>.</p><p><a href="http://bikefancy.blogspot.com/">This one</a> is an especially nice match to Cunningham's sensibility! And if you'd rather not wait for someone else to capture your street cred, take your own pics and <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/wardrobe_remix/">share them here on Flickr</a>.</p><p>But Cunningham’s the granddaddy of the trend; his first column appeared in the 70s.</p><p>His tools of the trade are simple - a Nikon, some Fuji 400 color negative film, and a classic Schwinn bicycle. But they work.&nbsp; And by staying out there and letting the streets ‘speak to him’, Cunningham spots new styles emerging long before fashion editors at glossy magazines ever get their paws on them.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-21/billcunninghamnewyork.photo02_sm.jpg" style="width: 146px; height: 82px; float: right; margin: 7px;" title="">But what I learned most from the film is the journalistic integrity behind Cunningham’s column.</p><p>In addition to the streets, he shoots high society events – though he chooses those events based on the worthiness of the cause, not the guest list. In fact he refuses food, drinks, or even a glass of water while on those jobs.&nbsp; He's driven by - and obsessed with - surfaces and commodities of the highest order: clothes. And yet, he never treats his subjects as commodities, and he tends to <a href="http://www.stylecaster.com/fashion/13004/is-pippa-middleton-next-global-street-style-star.%20">shun celebrity driven fashion</a>.</p><p>Early on Cunningham worked for free, saying ‘if you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do.’&nbsp; And the pleasure in his pursuits is palpable. But while that commitment is admirable, it also can be a bit alienating. Does anyone else live like this - could anyone else? Or is it the culture at large that's the real oddball, chasing after celebrity?&nbsp;</p><p>Maybe that’s what led director Richard Press to probe Cunningham’s sexual orientation and religious leanings - what's the heart that drives this singular pursuit?&nbsp; In response to those questions Cunningham first laughs, then parries, then appears shattered.&nbsp; And to what end? For me it’s the only misstep in what’s otherwise a great ride into the world of Bill Cunningham.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 21 May 2011 13:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-05-21/undressing-new-york-times-street-photographer-bill-cunningham-86873