Life in Coney Island in the 1970s Through the Lens of Bruce Gilden

Bruce Gilden (born 1946) is an American street photographer. Photographing candidly in black and white with a 35 mm camera and flash, he is best known for his artistic close-ups of people. He saw Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blowup in 1968 while studying sociology at Penn State. After watching the film, he bought his first camera and began taking photography classes ATOL of Visual Arts in New York. Gilden was fascinated by the spontaneity of ordinary people on the street and took up photography as a career. Unlike most street photographers, he routinely uses a flash, alerting his subjects to his presence. He documented the sensuality of the bodies he saw on Coney Island as his first major project.

Bruce Gilden took photos of the sunbathers, the weekenders, the sideshow booths, and the Cyclone rollercoaster at the end of the 1960s. Since Gilden began taking pictures there, the reputation of Coney Island has declined, and it is now considered a place for thrill-seekers who cannot escape the humid summer heat. While the beach may have a reputation for being a place full of eccentric characters, Gilden’s ability to conjure them up gives the beach and the surrounding area a humorous view of everyday life from the sixties to the late 1980s.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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