Updated: May 5, 2021
Bill Cunningham was an American fashion photographer for New York Times and was most well-known for his candid and street photography, also known as the first 'Street style Photographer'.
Cunningham began taking photographs of ladies' hats before moving onto writing about fashion. He later found interest in taking candid photographs on the streets of New York City and his work attracted the attention of the New York Times with the 1987 capture of Greta Garbo (Fig.1) in an unguarded moment. Cunningham reported for the paper from 1978 - 2016.
Fig.1 - Greta Garbo in Nutria coat, New York City, December 1978
Photo credit: Bill Cunningham Courtesy of
The newspaper spread that Cunningham was first featured in for his image of Greta Garbo.
The New York Times, December 1978
Cunningham once stated, "The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always had been. Always will be." His perspective on fashion has taken fashion photography off the runway. He captured how regular people on streets adapted clothes from the fashion shows, which shaped today’s street style photography.
"I go out every day. When I get depressed at the office, I go out and as soon as I'm on the street and see people, I feel better. But I never go out with a preconceived idea. I let the street speak to me." - Bill Cunningham