March 23, 2011

Quintessential New York street Photographer, Bill Cunningham

Variety is reporting that this documentary is breaking records at New York's Film Forum. And why not? Few New Yorkers wouldn't know this gentle gentleman who has been perched on the corner of 57th and Fifth for as long as anyone from that part of the world can remember.

My family used to hire Mr. Cunningham for their parties and I first remember him covering the Gold and Silver Balls in Manhattan, back in the early Eighties. Those fetes were the high school precursors to the Debutante balls that followed in college years. If my memory serves me they were held in the grand Ballroom at the Plaza Hotel. After a few turns to Lester Lanin the majority of us would end up at Trader Vic's downstairs sipping Queens Parks and Fog Cutters. 

Thankfully, Mr. Cunningham kept himself to the ballroom, capturing us only in our elegant and sober best.

It will be interesting to see if the art history books of days to come will give credit to Mr. Cunningham for taking New York street photography in to the new millennium, picking up where Erwitt, Winogrand, Papageorge left off. 

Documentaries rarely find significant distribution and therefore rarely show a return. I guess the iconic Mr. Cunningham and the talented film makers who have brought his story to life have broken the mold.

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