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Friday, 7 October 2011

Meeting an icon...

Over the past few years, I've been fortunate enough to meet many people who are well respected in their field. I've chatted with Diane Keaton about artwork in MoMA, I've had dinner next to Uma Thurman and shared a laugh about over-cooked food and I've photographed Shingai Shoniwa where she told me of her love for my hometown, Glasgow. For some reason, I have little interest in celebrity so although it was a pleasure, none of these events seemed momentous. Even fellow bloggers I have great respect for: Susie Lau, Scott Schuman, Garance Doré, Tommy Ton...I love to see them work but have never felt what many would call star struck when meeting them. That changed this week.

For many years now, before I even began street photography, my friend Mary in the Upper West Side has been systematically mailing me clippings of Bill Cunningham's column in the New York Times. His street photography work is so comprehensive that for nearly 50 years he's created an unprecedented snapshot of a city's evolution by documenting style in New York City.

On Sunday evening while standing in the queue for Kenzo, Bill Cunningham walked past me. I froze and after taking a moment to recompose myself, I whipped out my phone and texted the only person I knew would fully understand - Les Garçons de Glasgow co-founder, Daniel. His response: Did you get a photo? Unfortunately he had come and gone before I could even think photo, so when I saw him the next day outside Chloé I knew this was my chance. Thing is, a photo isn't really what I wanted. What I wanted was to shower him with praise and have a conversation. I did get that photo but outside a major show certainly isn't conducive to a nice chin-wag (video footage to come, you'll see why!). The moment passed.

The next evening on my way to meet a friend, I was exiting the metro & spotted a man walking slowly up the stairs in front of me wearing a blue jacket. That specific colour of cornflower blue isn't often seen & I recalled Mr Cunningham wearing one the day before. Not only did the gentleman in front of me wear the same colour jacket but, you've guessed it, it was the man himself.

I approached, confirmed, complimented & introduced myself to the legend and we exited the station together. I won't spoil the interaction by going into too much detail but a humbler man I am yet to meet. We walked together to his hotel a few blocks away from the station and chatted about New York, style, photography and Paris. Luckily, meeting an icon lived up to everything I'd hoped and more.