The Bill Cunningham Spirit

Yesterday I watched a short TV show about Bill Cunningham, the photographer for the New York Times fashion column. As a 26 year old young woman, I don’t really pay much attention to fashion. I did watched the first 7 seasons of America’s next top model in university, but that was mostly for the enjoyment of the drama and international travel parts, not so much for the clothes or shoes. (my mom, in comparison, is a different story…)

Bill Cunningham’s story touched me, for he is a person with a strong passion for one thing, and restlessly pursue that thing. I could not believe he rode a bicycle to photograph women on the street of New York for 50 years. 50 years! Back then there was no colorful TV, let alone Facebook, digital camera, or photoshop. Bill rides his bicycle through every corner of the New York City, using his amazing sense of discovery to explore the unknown – the people, the fashion, the streets, the cultures and vibes of this amazing place. He took most of his photos with an old camera, took the films back, looked through the photos using an exemplifier, and selected the good ones ready for publishing. Bill’s home consists of many filing cabinets, in which he saved all the films of the photos he’ve ever taken. Many said Bill’s collection is a history of New York’s fashion. They could not be more accurate in their description.

It’s unfortunate when I think of many who still struggle to keep their ends meet. It’s a shame when I thought of people who have the means to pursue their dreams chose to go with the flow, given up their passions. Bill is great because he sets an example for us. He is telling us how we should live, and how we can live. He is also teaching the many businessmen out there – no matter how high you sit, go back to the ground, for the ground will give you the information you need, to stand taller, and look further.

Since I live once and only once, I shall treasure and celebrate life, just like Bill.


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