William Gedney 

William Gedney was an American documentary and street photographer. It wasn’t until after his death that his work got widely recognized.

He was born in Greenville, New York. He studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. In 1955 he graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design and began work with Condé Nast.

During his lifetime, Gedney received several fellowships and grants, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship for photography in India, a New York State Creative Artists Public Service Program grant; and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

In a career spanning late 1950s to mid-1980s, he created a large body of work, including series documenting local communities during his travels to India, San Francisco, Brooklyn and New York shot in 1960s and 1970s. He is also noted for night photography, principally of large structures, like the Brooklyn bridge and architecture, and architectural studies of neighbourhoods quiet and empty, in the nightlike his ‘Benaras by Night’ series.

In 1964, Gedney embarked on a major personal project centred on a coal-mining town of Kentucky where he developed a close, multi-year relation with a local family. After receiving a Guggenheim fellowship, Gedney took a cross- country trip to California where he decided to focus on the drifters of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. In 1968, before Gedney’s first trip to India, John Szarkowski curated the only solo exhibition during his lifetime ‘Eastern Kentucky and San Francisco: Photographs by Gedney’ at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Gedney’s work has been exhibited in numerous group shows in Gallery 292, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York and San Francisco, Pratt Institute, New York, CSMVS, Mumbai amongst others.

An extensive collection of his work, including contact sheets, sketchbooks, notebooks, and photographs are now housed at the Duke University in North Carolina.

Geney died of AIDS in 1989, aged 56, in New York.