Happiness is Bill Cunningham

screenshot_307Yesterday’s blog began a discussion of happiness and the introvert.  When we have those “off” days, how do we get back “on” again, when our happiness comes from inside of us?  Sometimes what we need are people who can inspire us.

Meet Bill Cunningham.  Photographer for the New York Times.  85 years old.  Bill puts in an enormously long work week, covering fashion and charity events all over New York City.  He also does a weekly “On the Street” feature for the Sunday paper.  He has made a career taking unexpected photographs of everyday people, socialites and fashion personalities, but not in an intrusive paparazzi manner, but in a way that allows him to be highly respected and valued by all those he photographs.

You’ve seldom met a person so full of life.  Bill doesn’t drive.  He rides his bike from home to the newspaper offices, to every event he covers, and back home again.  Nimble and agile, even at 85, as he lives in his passion of photography, he has more invitations to events than he can cover in a day.  It’s fun watching him on the street.  He’s like a humming bird with a camera, darting here and there, quickly grabbing sweet shots and rushing off again.  His humor and love of photography comes through in everything he does.

In 2010, he was featured in the documentary Bill Cunningham New York.  Cee and I loved the film.  Bill’s primary focus is as a fashion photographer, and neither of us have any interest in that, but the quality of his work and his incredibly vibrant personality are what we enjoyed in the film.  He’s an inspiration.  You can get a taste of it by watching the trailer.

If you can’t watch the film (available for rent on Amazon), you can still get a sense of his spirit but watching a slide show of his weekly work and listening to his commentary.  You’ve never heard a cheerier voice!  He’ll make you smile by listening to him.

Bill isn’t only applauded in the United States.  In 2008 he was awarded the Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.  He was featured on BBC Two’s The Culture Show in March 2012.

What’s the moral of my little story?  Do what you love and you’ll be happy and full of life.  Find things that make you smile.  Be near happy people.  Smile and laugh often.  More on this topic tomorrow….

So what makes you happy? 

Hi.  I’m Chris.  I’m an introvert.  Look for my ongoing series celebrating introvert talents (Sunday), the Introverts Blog Quietly (IBQ) weekly writing prompt (Wednesday), introvert cartoons (Thursday), plus anything else interesting that I find in the meantime.    Come and share with like-minded introverts.  I also contribute to the new food blog Three’s Cooking, learning to cook from the heart, for the soul.


9 thoughts on “Happiness is Bill Cunningham

  1. Chris, I love love love this piece. I agree with you that ‘doing what we love’ is absolutely the key to mindful living and giving. I had never heard of Bill Cunningham before – what a treat. As it happens I love fashion too, in the way that Bill does – natural street organic style. Thank-you for your beautiful writing & for your intro to Bill. Now I want to meet him:).

  2. Bang to rights, Chris! Since I had to give up work, I have kept occupied as much as I can by writing (sometimes) and immersing myself in photography, aiming to improve my craft…it keeps me sane (I think!) and happy 🙂

  3. What a wonderful treat to be introduced to such a lively happy sounding photographer….I love his upbeat inclusive take on the world….thanks for the introduction, and wise advice to do more of what we love 🙂

  4. My husband told me to stop laughing so loudly at this Jim Carrey video on Saturday, as he was trying to concentrate on some work 😀 It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud, rather than chuckle quietly. And of course the whole thing about Jim Carrey is that he’s doing what he loves. Apparently when he was at school, the teachers got so sick of him pulling funny faces during class, that they promised to give him a five-minute funny-face slot at the end of the school day, if he could desist from disrupting lessons.

  5. What makes me happy? Reading a really good book! Writing poetry. Taking pictures. Spending time with good friends. Yoga and meditation (especially the latter). When my husband and I understand one another – sometimes it’s like we speak two different languages, so it is great when no clarification is needed. It also makes me happy when we go for a drive, a walk, a hike, out to dinner or to the movies. I am happy when we spend time together.

    Bill Cunningham seems to be an inspiration.

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