Walking to your own beat

The Alchemy of Hustle loves to celebrate stories of individuals who are living their passion, being true to themselves and who are master’s of their craft.  Recently I watched the documentary Bill Cunningham New York, and went into celebration overload.  I highly recommend the watch.

Bill Cunningham is a photographer for the New York Times; On the Street and Evening Hours columns.  He cycles around Manhattan and captures street style from the people of the city “the best fashion show is definitely on the street, always has been always will be” (BC). He is courted by high society and spends his evenings attending parties, openings and functions, snapping away.  “Bill has chronicled the intersection of fashion, society and culture in New York for over fifty years like an anthropologist… Bill’s rigorous work ethic, his joy and passion for his subject matter, and the simplicity with which he lives his life; all of that is an inspiration.” Richard Press – Film Director.

He pretty much works everyday and every night in all weather on the streets of New York, uses a manual camera (no digital here), wears the same blue workmans coat everyday and has about four outfits in total. He lives his life frugally and for most of it (until recently) lived in a tiny apartment in Carnegie Hall with no kitchen (he eats out cheaply), bathroom (up the hall), closet or car and slept on a makeshift bed stacked on photography magazines (the apartment was also crammed with filing cabinets containing every negative he has ever taken).  Oh and he is not interested in your money, your job or your celebrity……..he is interested in you, your style and what your wearing.

He is revered within the fashion industry “We all get dressed for Bill. It’s one snap, two snaps, or he ignores you, which is death” Anna Wintour, Vogue (US) editor-in-chief.  He is revered, yet shuns all the usual trappings that world has to offer which I find remarkably refreshing.  He is a truly unique and glorious human being without the dreaded pull of self consciousness the majority of us navigate.  And without a drop of pretension. I came out of the film inspired and relieved to have been shown a true individual in todays world where most huddle under safe houses of sameness for fear of standing out.  He celebrates individuality.

I was talking to somebody a couple of days after watching the movie and they used the term ‘weird’ to describe the way Bill lived…….Sometimes I feel like SHOUTING to the world WE DO NOT ALL HAVE TO BE THE SAME when I hear people call others ‘weird’ because they live differently from them. We do not need to all live the same lives jumping the same milestones of degrees, jobs, marriages, births and the purchasing of houses, the manicuring of careers and the buying of stuff.  Bill Cunningham reminded me of that, and I love him for it.  Some may say the dedication to his career has come at a cost.  In my experience the majority of us are all looking at the spare change left from the decisions we’ve made.  Whether your marching to the beat or free styling the Samba were all human beings. Living a different life from the majority is not the cause of suffering…….being human is.

I celebrate individuality and I celebrate Bill Cunningham, if you get a chance go watch, you’ll enjoy.

Heres a few gems from the man himself –  “I just play a straight game and in New York thats nearly impossible, to be honest and straight in New York thats like Don Quixote fighting windmills”.  “Alot of people have taste but they dont have the daring to be creative.  Here we are in an age of cookie cutter sameness, there are few that are rarities…. someone that doesn’t look like they where stamped out of ten million other people all looking the same“.  


About maree

I'm creative and curious and love writing about the fine and messy art of creating an authentic joy laden life.


  1. Helen

    yes wonderful man! Such a joy to see the individuality in a human!

  2. Pingback: How to get your mojo singing ‘Hell to the Yeah’ « the alchemy of hustle

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