Category Archives: Memoriam

Bill Cunningham Tribute

He captured our imaginations … on the street.

When I heard of the passing of Bill Cunningham this week, I felt I lost a friend, even though we never met. Through nearly 4 decades I have enjoyed his column in The New York Times named On The Street. He knew how to show us fashion in the real world, what people were really wearing opposed to the important runway shows that are a prevalent institution for clothing design in New York, Paris, Milan, London and all around the globe. You would find Bill at these events, he said they educate the eye, but his heart was truly on the street, doing what his instincts told him the world needed to see. He found paralleled fashion trends from the runway to the street, photographing views from his perspective. He loved the avant-garde and relished the classy dresser. Bill was always on the look out for the newest thing in fashion from head to toe.

“The wider world that perceives fashion as a frivolity that should be done away with, the point is …  fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it, it would be like doing away with civilization. That’s what I think.”

 

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Then I got to know him better thanks to Zeitgeist Films. I went to New York to see this film in a Soho theater The Film Forum. There was a standing ovation at the end.

Bill Cunningham New York

 

Although he was a sought after hat maker / designer in his 20’s, labeled William J (fun to know Marilyn Monroe was one of his clients). Bill made his way into photography in his 30’s. He assisted then celebrity photographer Eddie Newton and didn’t see the value in celebrity imagery, his eyes saw the ‘real’ people standing near. He found a calling that stayed with him the rest of his life. In 1985 he started working with the original Details Magazine and publisher Annie Flanders, she gave him 100 pages at times. Extraordinary.  Before that Bill was with Womens Wear Daily as his first photo editorial publication. It was the late 70’s when he started with The NY Times.

William J hat design in Bill’s 20’s

1978 the first street fashion article for NY Times with Bill Cunningham

 

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Details Magazine

In the pages of The New York Times, Bill brought me to New York City without being there. I marveled in the chic he discovered and wondered how he was able to grab these shots, many in the crosswalks in upper Manhattan, but you could find his pictures from East Village and the lower end as well. His bikes were the mode of transportation. He had over 25 stolen over the years. His perspective on fashion set trends in current culture even though they were already really happening.

“The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been. Always will be.”

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“I suppose, in a funny way, I’m a record keeper. More than a collector. I’m very aware of things not of value but of historical knowledge, 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.” 

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Bill lived above Carnegie Hall for many years in a small space until the residents were asked to leave their apartment studios. Many of them his closest friends and an iconic art community lived there including the wonderful Eddita Sherman whom he photographed as his muse in vintage costume spanning a 200 year period with his backdrop being buildings and architecture in Manhattan. These photos resulted in Facades, his only published book.

 

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In 2008 Mr. Cunningham was honored by France’s L’Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres in Paris and awarded The Order of Arts and Letters. Some of his most poignant messages were delivered there in his acceptance speech including…

“I’m not interested in the celebrities with their free dresses. Look at the clothes, the cut, the silhouette, the color. It’s the clothes. Not the celebrity and not the spectacle.”

The streets of New York will never be the same without Bill Cunningham paying attention and recording what he needed to show us. He had our hearts.  His blue jacket, big smile, photographs and several bikes through the years will forever be a part of New York fashion history. I personally will miss the prospect of getting a glance at him working or possibly Bill capturing a wild outfit on me. I am happy that his memoirs were made in the movie about him and he submitted to it. He was a shy, quiet man that led a simple existence with a great sense of humor. He taught us so much about humility, hard work and human spirit.

“It’s as true today as it ever was, he who seeks beauty, will find it.”

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-written by Lori Patrick

Burt Shavitz Memoriam / A Life For The Bees

"no one's ever owned me. no one's ever going to own me. 
  you can rent somebody, but you can't buy 'em."

I first learned about Burt’s full story and the photographer side to his history from Burt’s Buzz, a profession he was good at while working with Time/Life and The International Herald Tribune in the 60’s, taking iconic portraits and other moments in time while living in New York City. Then, he found his true calling. The cultivation and raising of bee communities, eventually turning it into a pure health staple in many homes as we know it and see on almost every counter or make up aisle all over the world. The problem with this phenomenon was, Burt was not comfortable being an office man or in the limelight for Burt’s Bees. He found his peace living off the grid in rural Maine. He lived his life his way with Rufus Golden & Pasha Golden as his canine companions and best friends. Gone at 80 years.

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On the set of Burt’s Buzz produced and directed by Jody Shapiro

Burt shot an image of trash piled up on a nearby garbage barge in the forefront of the Statue of Liberty landscape. It was a catalyst for eco-consciousness in America. He was a freelance street story seeker. Shavitz shot an image of legend Malcom X during one of his speeches and another with poet-writer Allen Ginsberg. The image of the woman in the window was in his building and was the deciding factor to leave New York and head to Maine where he would live the rest of his life. 

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It is wonderful that Burt allowed all of us to peek into his life at 76 being such a private man. Take a look at the trailer for Burt’s Buzz. A pretty incredible story of a man who became one with nature after his birth in New York City. Catch it on Netflix. Filmmaker Jody Shapiro

 "I had no desire to be a upper mobile rising yuppie with a trophy wife, a trophy house, a trophy car. I was not looking for any of those things, I already had what I wanted, I had a canoe, a pony, a camp, land, bees and knowledge and that was all I really needed" -Burt Shavitz 
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Credit: Robert F. Bukaty, AP

 

Paul C. Buff / A memoriam

IN MEMORIUM: One of our great light providers has followed his. Rest in peace Mr. Buff. You have helped create extraordinary work. Your legend will continue with photographers for years to come.

Read the entire story on Paul’s site. This spirited man will be missed greatly. 

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If anyone would care to submit images utilizing the lighting from Paul’s arsenal send to me stating what equipment used, sized at 800 long side.

Please email me at lori@photocommunique.com and I will include them on this tribute posting. 

©John Watt / Alien Bee & Speedlights

©John Watt / Alien Bee & Speedlights

 

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©Victoria Pavlatos /

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©Gina Lantz / Alien Bee 800 with Paul C Buff Octobox

Lewes-Delaware-Photographer-Matt-Meiers

©Matt Meiers / two Einsteins (gridded stripboxes)

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©Benjamin Marcum / One AlienBee 800

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©Michael Gowin / Einstein in a 60″ Photek Softlighter II plus 2 behind

Cutting Edge Photography ROCKSTAR Senior Portraits

©David Hakamaki / 2  AB-800s (main and fill) with 1 AB-400 (kicker) & Cybersync trigger system

 

©Jon Lisbon / Einstein in a PaulBuff beauty dish with grid.

Leonard Nimoy Inspires Us

“Live long and prosper” He said that till the end of life, believing fully in the notion that we must live every day as our gift. Even in his tweets, he signed off with LLAP. Here is his final one.

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To some photographers, it is a pleasant surprise to learn that Leonard was a photographer from an early age. His Spock persona and narrations were most popular but he truly had a deep side to his art, including poetry.  Leonard shot primarily in B&W keeping contrast in specific realities.

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We are talking about his work on his Full Body Project. Instead of elaborating on it, I am referencing his Artist Statement below. I chose to feature this project because the conceptual work of these two images are executed with superb attention and styling choice. It helps us get into his head upon viewing as he utilizes the Newton diptych inspiration.

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©Leonard Nimoy

 

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©Leonard Nimoy

 

“My dream concept is that I have a camera and I am trying to photograph what is essentially invisible. And every once in a while I get a glimpse of her and I grab that picture”. — Leonard Nimoy

 

Artist Statement as told to R. Michelson Galleries. Representing his photographs. See more of his work on the gallery site.

The Full Body Project Leonard Nimoy

“Who are these women? Why are they in these pictures? What are their lives about? How do they feel about themselves? These are some of the questions I wanted to raise through the images in this collection.

This current body of work is a departure for me. For a number of years, I have been producing images using the female figure. I have worked with numerous models who were professional people earning their living by posing, acting, dancing, or any combination thereof. But, as has been pointed out to me in discussions at exhibitions of my work, the people in these pictures always fell under the umbrella of a certain body type. I’ll call it a “classic” look. Always within range of the current social consensus of what is “beautiful.” In fact, that was the adjective I most often heard when my work was exhibited. The women as they appeared in my images were allotted no individual identity. They were hired and directed to help me express an idea—sometimes about sexuality, sometimes about spirituality—and usually about feminine power. But the pictures were not about them. They were illustrating a theme, a story I hoped to convey.

These women are interested in “fat liberation.” They hold jobs in the theater, the film industry and in business—and together they perform in a burlesque presentation called

“Fat Bottom Revue.” The nature and degree of costuming and nudity in their performances is determined by the venue and the audience, which can range from children’s birthday parties, to stag parties. I wanted these pictures to be more about them. These women are projecting an image that is their own. And one that also stems fro m their own story rather than mine. Their self-esteem is strong. One of them has a degree in anthropology and will tell you that ideas of beauty and sexuality are “culture bound”—that these ideas are not universal or fixed, and that they vary and fluctuate depending on place and time. They will tell you that too many people suffer because the body they live in is not the body you find in the fashion magazines.

My process was simple, yet different than how I had worked in the past. I was initially interested in revisiting two works of female subjects by Herb Ritts and Helmut Newton: specifically Ritts’ image of a group of supermodels, who were posed nude and clustered together on the floor, and a Newton diptych wherein the two images are identical in pose, except one image showed the models clothed, and the other showed them unclothed. The models were shown the images by Herb Ritts and Helmut Newton and they were quite prepared to present themselves in response to the poses that those images suggested. I asked them to be proud, which was a condition they took to easily, quite naturally. Having completed the compositions that were initially planned, I then asked them to play some music that they had brought with them, and they quickly responded to the rhythms, dancing in a free-form circular movement with in the space. It was clear that they were comfortable with the situation, with each other, and were enjoying themselves.

With these new images, I am now hearing different words. Sometimes “beautiful,” but with a different sub-text. I hear comments, which lead to questions. The questions lead to discussions—about beauty, social acceptability, plastic surgery, our culture and health. In these pictures these women are proudly wearing their own skin. They respect themselves and I hope that my images convey that to others”.

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click to view on amazon.com

 

 A good look inside his world as a photographer