The loss of this 87-year-old brilliant fashion photographer on 25 June 2016 left me speechless... His work has always been very inspirational for me and his candid street photography for The New York Times was simply outstanding.
He was not merely a fashion image-maker for more than 40 years, but also a street style tastemaker, an anthropologist, and a diarist. Most importantly, he was a sort of modern bodhisattva, a person able to let people discover magic, compassion and sweet surrender with the click of his camera. To sum up, he was one of the best American photographers of modern life and managed to capture New York and the world in an exclusive way, with a personal, expert touch.
Although part of and connected to the fashion elite, his character was rather modest. When asked why he kept tearing up cheques he received, Cunningham said: "Money's the cheapest thing. Liberty and freedom is the most expensive". Virtue words, I must say.
I remember him wearing his signature blue French worker's jacket, khaki pants and sneakers - his look was always the same. No wonder why - he was always riding his bike, his camera as his only accessory, and documenting everybody's outfit, everywhere, as long as he thought they wore it well. Apart from shooting socialites, fashion models, philanthropists and rich people, his main focus was on taking photographs of the way people looked here, now, and with their own sense of style. To him it wasn't really essential what they did or who they were.
Finally, I tend to look at him as an artist: he dealt with the everyday sublime by incorporating in his pictures the joy of being alive, a great wonder about the way people look, how they dress and pose themselves in public, and their strange relation to life. I'll always have a good memory of this legendary, self-taught photographer.