Street style photography is perhaps one of the fashion industry's most important assets, providing global audiences an intimate portrait of the people that create, mold and shape the ever-wavering swath of trends that sweep up the streets during the routine fashion week calendar. Throughout the years, the medium has been responsible for fueling the success of blogs and creating stars out of fashion week's most stylish - with seasoned street style photographers even becoming "influencers" themselves. But street style photography would not be the vital tool that it is without it's founding father, Bill Cunningham.

A self-taught photographer, Cunningham would become a maverick in fashion journalism, offering a new method of reportage that captured style-savvy individuals, both famous and unknown, in their most candid moments. Since the launch of his New York Times series, On the Street, in 1978, Bill Cunningham has built a career bolstered by passion, authenticity, an appreciation for individuality and a royal-blue workman’s jacket (a trademark piece that lead the photographer to becoming a fashion icon himself).

When news broke that the 87-year-old legend had passed, social media became inundated with eulogies remembering Cunningham's bountiful career and how he has been, and forever will be, an undying inspiration.

As the patron saint of street style photography, Bill Cunningham has paved the way for many of today's leading image-takers, which is why we've asked a few photographer friends to weigh in on his legacy.

RIP Bill, you'll be missed.

"Bill Cunningham was an inspiration to all of us street style photographers. I first saw him in real life during my first visit to Paris Fashion Week years ago. It's one thing to read about such an icon of photography or to look at his work, but to stand next to him taking pictures was truly inspirational. He was always smiling, you could just feel his joy and passion. We will miss him." -Acielle, @styledumonde

"For me, Bill was the genesis of what I do now. I'd seen his photos long before the likes of Scott [Schuman] and Tommy [Ton], and they likely sparked my interest in the medium. He was able to find trends occurring in the labyrinth of Manhattan, editing out the mess and directing our eyes to where we would be in the coming months. I don't try to spot trends, but if I did, I know I would never be able to spot and curate a narrative as well as he could." -Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

"Bill was always around, yet you never really noticed him; always quiet, always focused on his work - looking around, looking for people to shoot - and always smiling. We had small talks a couple of times these past two years, he was super sweet. I’m honored to say that he took my photo two times and published it in the New York Times, and obviously I did shoot him several times as well. He is definitely an inspiration for all of us, it’ll be very weird not seeing him around from now on during fashion weeks. Respect." -Julien Boudet, @bleumode

"Bill Cunningham was the real pioneer of street style. Maybe he liked to be more unnoticed, but the industry insiders really know about his work and how he changed the way of seeing style and fashion - moving from celebrities, fashion events, or fashion shows to the street where a more real and authentic style could be found. Before him, nobody was documenting. I very much identified with his idea of shooting the "real" people, or a garment or a way to wear a piece of the look rather than celebrities with perfectly planned outfits. He was fascinated by authentic looks and the originality of mixing garments freely by [people who were more] anonymous, which is also what I find interesting.

He was always smiling and being so humble. The last time I saw him was in February during fashion week in NYC and he was one of those people who seem to be immortal; you always expected him to be around during NYFW despite his age. Unfortunately, that was the last time I could see him around.

He was a real photographer, strong; people used to describe him as a war photographer shooting fashion, always outside despite bad weather, or his age, or other disadvantages, until the very last day." -Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

Be sure to follow Fashion Week SS17 to keep up with all of this season’s happenings and check out our fashion week guides from London, Milan and Paris

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