Monday, June 15, 2009
Billy Cunningham, photographer
Billy Cunningham is a photographer for Architectural Digest and I have known him for many years. He took the photos for the piece, "Dog Heaven on Earth," which appear in the July 2009 issue.
I asked Billy three questions:
1. How did your interest in photography begin?
I started photographing when I was on the USS Mark, in the waters of the Mekong River in Vienam around 1968. When my enlistment was over, I came back to NYC and showed some of my photos to my younger brother, Hugh, who was an art director at that time and he said," You should become a photographer." And that is what I did.
2. How did you become a photographer for Architectural Digest?
I took a break from photography around 1974 and I was looking for work. I started working at this fine art studio where they did silk screen prints with famous artists like Helen Frankenthaler. This is where I met John Loring, who was both an artist and writer and a friend of Paige Rense who had just become the editor of magazine called "Architectural Digest." Now Architectural Digest at that time was a small regional magazine that really did not have much to do with interior design. Paige Rense was able to refocus the magazine and turned it into what it is today. At that time she was looking for someone to do scouting photography of various projects around the NY area and I was asked if I wanted to do that for the magazine.
I had never photographed an interior before and I gave it a shot and that is how I learned how to shoot interiors over many years and by buying lots of equipment. Then, after about 5 years of doing scouting I started to get assignments that would be published in the magazine. Now, some 30 years later I am still doing both scouting and published jobs for AD.
3. Can you talk a little bit about a few of your memorable experiences as a photographer?
A few highlights of my career were studying with Richard Avedon, teaching at ICP, meeting Cary Grant at his home in Beverly Hills, CA, photographing at the White House, photographing Madonna's apartment here in New York City, and being in London when Princess Diana died and getting some amazing photos of the funeral.
Thank-you so much, Billy, for sharing some pieces of your amazing career. Billy is a true artistic inspiration. I am going soon to the brand new High Line Park and I will take some photos... which hopefully I will post later to this blog.
The photos at this entry appear with the written permission of Billy Cunningham.