With a Schwinn and a Nikon


For New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, a red Schwinn bicycle is as much a part of his working kit as his camera.
For decades, the 82-year-old, silver-haired sprite in a blue smock and tweed cap has been pedaling around Manhattan with his Nikon. By day, he chronicles fashion trends as displayed in candid shots of New Yorkers on the streets. By night, he haunts the soirees of the Big Apple’s upper crust. His two photographic columns for the Times Style section are called “On the Street” and “Evening Hours.”
“More than anyone else in the city, he has the whole visual history of the last 40 or 50 years of New York,” fashion designer Oscar de la Renta says of Cunningham in a Wikipedia entry on the photographer. “It’s the total scope of fashion in the life of New York.”
Says Cunningham: “The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been and always will be.”
Now, Cunningham is the subject of a new documentary by filmmaker Richard Press called Bill Cunningham New York. The film was shown last June at the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs film festival in Silver Springs, Md., and opened in select theaters in New York and other cities on March 16.
Among the people who appear in the film to talk about Cunningham’s life and work are many of the luminaries he has photographed over the years: Anna Wintour, Tom Wolfe, Brooke Astor, David Rockefeller.
“I’ve said many times that we all get dressed for Bill,” Vogue editor Wintour says in the film.
On April 5, New York Times Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd wrote about Cunningham in a piece headlined: “Hunting Birds of Paradise.”

Bill Cunningham at work

“I still have not formally met Bill Cunningham, now 82 and still going strong,” Dowd wrote. “I wave at him when I see him around Manhattan, a slight, gray-haired man in a tweed cap turned backward, standing sentry outside Barney’s, pedaling on his red Schwinn through Times Square or darting around taking pictures at the opera. … [H]e always looks happy and busy and kind, a Boston Irish priest of street fashion, an aesthetic meritocrat who moves through New York’s seductive trellis of money, power and status and stays pure somehow.”
Cunningham lives a spartan lifestyle in quarters barely large enough to accommodate a bed, and he’s not beholden to the shakers and movers who frequently are his photographic subjects. “If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do. That’s the key to the whole thing,” Cunningham says in the film.
“In a world where conflicts of interest are quaint,” Dowd wrote, “Cunningham has a profound sense of ethics. He will not even accept a glass of water at the galas he covers.”
As for his bicycle, Cunningham is now on his 29th. “I’ve had 28 stolen,” he says.
The Times has posted on its website a short video on a day in the life of its “bicycle-bound fashion and society photographer.” Also, check out the trailer for the documentary.

Bill Cunningham New York from So Haute on Vimeo.

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2 Comments

Filed under Americana, Cool stuff, Urban cycling

2 responses to “With a Schwinn and a Nikon

  1. I began using this stroller for a one month old; he fit fine, with the addition of a head stabilizer (pillowy tube that cradles the baby’s head). Granted, I wasn’t moving at mach speed and I stayed on smooth surfaces (concrete, grass intermittently). I wouldn’t recommend rough terrain such as gravel and dirt paths at such a young age.

    This product does not fold up tight like an umbrella stroller; no running strollers do. All three wheels must come off for transport in any sedan.

    The multiple pockets are so convenient for a mom out on a walk or run, but this may not be condusive for the racing competitor who is pushing their little one. Rest assured, most of the pockets can be removed.

    There is a fold down rain shield that completely encloses your little one; GREAT for wind blockage and keeping your little one snug – no excuses on not getting out to exercise on windy or cold days!

    The three wheels provide for maneuverability and stability; the fixed wheel is a must for avid runners. If you have a free spinning wheel, you get horrible vibration in front which leads to an uncomfortable ride and extreme wear on the product. It takes learning how to steer; again, if you are into this product to RUN with, you must have that fixed wheel.

  2. Very cool grand pa. I’am one that ride schwinn bicycle i think this bike is very good.

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