'Watching New York: Street Style A to Z' goes from Instagram to a new book

Joelle Garguilo Image
Thursday, May 16, 2024
Johnny Cirillo's 'Watching New York' now a book
Joelle Garguilo has the details.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- With more than two million followers on social media, Johnny Cirillo has made a name for himself as the go-to street-style authority.

His account is called "Watching New York" and he does just that, watching and photographing the best, quirkiest, and most authentic looks on New Yorkers.

He's being compared to a kind of Bill Cunningham for the digital age.

The late Bill Cunningham once said, "The best fashion show is definitely on the street, always has been, always will be."

Johnny Cirillo agrees. He's been dubbed "The people's paparazzi."

He's photographed thousands who grace the city's sidewalks each day, reimagining street style while he's at it.

He's also the author of the new book, "Watching New York: Street Style A to Z"

Cirillo has been infatuated with photography ever since he first got his hands on a camera.

"It was the first thing that consumed me that, you know, really tumbled down the rabbit hole and just continued from there," he said.

He's the street photographer and author, better known as "Watching New York" to his millions of followers.

On any given day you can find him capturing candids, turning the city sidewalks into a runway... his runway.

"Every day I go out. It's like, I put my headphones on and it's just like a game to me. And it's just so much fun. It's my happy, safe zone that I'm in," Cirillo said.

He doesn't just take pictures of fashion, rather, he captures the energy, the style, the spirit of the city and the people who call it home.

Every photo tells a story.

As for Cirillo's, his is tied to his idol, the late Bill Cunningham.

"The day that Bill Cunningham died, the amazing New York Times street fashion photographer, just as a way to honor him for that day, I went out and did it for that one day. But, I enjoyed it so much that I just kept on doing it. And then I just never stopped. That was in 2016," Cirillo said. "He's in my mind, every day that I shoot. And sometimes when I'm feeling a little slow, and I feel like it's cold, I'm getting rained on and I should go in and just go get a sandwich or something. I pretend that I hear him saying to me, you know, don't stop now kid, like, go out there like this, you're going to miss the big one."

Cirillo's pictures, videos, and now book, have become a time capsule of sorts.

Gigi Hadid, who wrote the forward, says they spark joy and his followers agree.

"I've gotten so many messages from people saying, this has sparked a little light inside me. And like, you know, even if it is a little light, to me, that's so much better than the darkness," he said.

But beyond the city streets, Cirillo's greatest inspiration comes from home with his wife, Kristen, and their son, Cassius.

"She came up with a name, she named it Watching New York. She gave me a year of my life to pursue photography to build my portfolio for free, she paid all the bills, you know, so we work together," he said.

"What's it like for you when your son gets to watch daddy go to work, and he knows how much joy it brings you?" Eyewitness News Entertainment Reporter Joelle Garguilo asked.

"My kid Cass, 6 years old. He just got his first camera. And he's been going everywhere with it. And my favorite, it's my favorite thing because it's so authentic," he said.

"What do you find interesting about people walking the streets of New York City?" Garguilo asked.

"Oh, it's a TV show," Cirillo said. "It's like, it's the greatest TV show on Earth. You just get to sit back and watch it through a lens, and just watch it all unfold."

"Watching New York: Street Style A to Z" is available now in stores and online.


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