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May 3, 2011

Through Bill's Lens

Street-style photography is all the rage, and we can’t get enough. Fashion photographers Scott Schulman of the Sartorialist, Tommy Ton of Jak & Jill and Tamu McPherson of All the Pretty Birds provide the kind of eye candy that makes us excited to get dressed every day. But before the current plethora of street-style blogs, there was and still is the King of street-style photography: Bill Cunningham.

Wearing his signature blue coat while biking through the streets of NYC, the 80-year-old Cunningham travels around the city photographing all the fashion that New York has to offer. He heads up the weekly New York Times photographic columns “On the Street,” which showcases fashion trends, and “Evening Hours,” which covers charity events. Now, a documentary about this legendary New York photojournalist, 10 years in the making, is finally complete.

Fittingly titled Bill Cunningham New York, the 88-minute documentary gives its audience unprecedented access into Cunningham’s work. If you're wondering, How in the world did the filmmakers fit 10 years of footage into 88 minutes?, it would help to know that eight of those years were spent just convincing Cunningham to be a part of the project.

“It started in 2000," says director Richard Press. "Phillip (producer of the film) and I approached Bill. He just pooh-pooed the idea. He couldn’t entertain it. He said, ‘Why me? There’s no subject here.’”

Thankfully, after seeing one of Press' short videos at an event where he was being honored by the Citizens Committee for New York City, Cunningham finally agreed to participate.

Bill Cunningham New York premiered at the New Director/New Films event at The Museum of Modern Art on March 24, and is in limited release across the country.

For theater locations, visit the film's website.

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