Friday, November 4, 2011

Role Model: Bill Cunningham

One person who inspires me is the fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, the subject of a recent documentary entitled Bill Cunningham New York (available in our Documentary section). Mr. Cunningham, now in his 80s, continues his life's work of photographing what people wear each day on the streets of New York City using only a film camera and a bicycle as his tools. Cunningham has created one of the greatest image archives of daily life ever to exist for any city, and over the course of 5 decades he has remained true to his own sense of ethics by not allowing his photos to be used to make fun of people, and striving to keep his work independent of the influence of financial reward. His weekly spreads in the New York Times reflect a contagious love for what he does, and while I am not particularly interested in fashion, Cunningham is an inspiration to all to seek joy in their work (or seek work that brings them this kind of joy), and to stay true to their mission in life. And ride their bike to work. While it's difficult for most of us to maintain Cunningham's level of devotion to our daily labors of love, as he stated in his acceptance speech for the title Officier de l'ordre des Artes et des Lettres, bestowed to him in 2008 by the French Ministry of Culture: "He who seeks beauty will find it."

Dan C. – Collection Development

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