The Street Style Photographer: What’s Behind The Lens?

With New York Fashion Week (and the IFB Conference!) less than two weeks away, it's officially time to start planning our outfits for all of the runway shows, after parties, and after-after parties. But who is the number one person you really want to dress to impress? Let's just all be honest with ourselves for a minute: it's the street style photogs.

Yes, it's not about who's sitting front row or who has a VIP table afterward, it's about who is the best dressed outside the tents — a beauty pageant, if you will. I think Amy Odell described it best when she wrote, “The battle is not between the models on the runways or the celebrities in the front rows, but show audience members, who now vie to be crowned the most stylish of them all. Their competitions are not swimwear and talent, but getting dressed and looking good. Their judges are not some random football player, a news anchor, and a techno singer, but rather the street style photographers who will (or won't) take their pictures, and, later, the website commentators who will dissect every bangle, shade of lipstick, and clutch purse to cross their bodies.”

Two months ago, I questioned the sustainability of street style, and wondered, like many trends in fashion, if it will disappear someday — or evolve.

Then today, I read an article in Metro that posed the question,”Is street style losing its cutting edge appeal?” which again piqued my interest on the topic.

One thing the article touches upon is the role of the street style photographer, whether or not they are trend forecasters or more just recorders of “sexy, young, pretty things.”

It notes, “‘..street-style bloggers are vying for the most influential subjects and intriguing looks, thereby focusing their efforts on personalities with access to fashion from different avenues and making it sometimes unobtainable and unrealistic for the average consumer.’ The result inevitably detracts from everything street-style used to stand for.”

Street style photographers, once known for their hungry search for finding style talent in the nooks and crannies of the world, are now being boiled down to a formula, as Odell proved.

Is it fair to over simplify street style photographers, or assume they do not understand trends?

How do you think street style photography will evolve with time and over saturation?

[Photo credit: Liam Goslett]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

11 Responses

  1. Megan Doyle

    As a street style blogger based in Perth, Western Australia, I think as time goes on street style bloggers will have to adapt and become more specialised in the groups of people they focus on. I am based at my university and prefer to take photos of student style, just because I am constantly amazed at how young people with no money can do such inventive and creative things with their clothes. I think people are getting bored with general street style that shares no context or anything about the subject other than their clothes. I am personally not as interested in ‘trends’ when i look for people to photograph because I think having ‘style’ is more inspirational than just wearing a trend!

    http://darlingwearetheyoungones.blogspot.com.au/

    Reply
  2. Ashley Garner

    I have been pondering this same question all day after reading that same Metro article as well as one in the New York Times. It’s true that when street style photography first began with Bill Cunningham it wasn’t about the woman, it was about the clothes and solely that. Now it has become much more common to see beautiful women in beautiful, most likely new, clothes coveting the blogs of Jak and Jil, Lookbook.nu, or Stockholm Street Style. Not that that is a bad thing as it has changed the way that we look for fashion. Instead of looking to the runways or magazines for trend forecasts we can just check the street style blogs.

    Street style photographers though should not be focusing on the trends as that is not what they are trying to capture. It is the essence of a person, a je ne sais quoi. The way a person styled a vintage slip dress with Jeffrey Campbell shoes and their grandmothers hat. Fashion is an industry that relies on trends to be able to sell while style is the essence of a person expressed through clothing. The two are not the same despite their same medium. To say the least street style photography has already evolved greatly from Bill Cunningham running around the streets of NY with his film camera to Tommy Ton snapping every editors arms and legs, but there are still photographers that hold the integrity that street style photography should have such as Scott Schuman and Garance Dore. So where will it go from now, only time will tell but with great talents already being recognized for their outstanding work I don’t think we have to much to worry about.

    Reply
  3. Ana

    Street-style fashion has gotten boring for me.
    I’d like to see a return to style that lets the person underneath the clothes shine through. Now it’s big and bold, which I love, but… just big and bold bought. It’s purely designer-centric again, there is fewer and fewer pictures of people styling their “old” clothes to make something new and interesting.
    I still like Hel-Looks because they offer us a range of people and their stories behind the clothes they chose.

    Reply
  4. Hua Jing Li

    I think it is definitely more about ‘sexy, young, pretty things’ and less about the individual manner of creating an outfit. But, this is what happens, when an area becomes saturated, it is less about the origins and more about what is popular and sells. I think ultimately street-photography will evolve into something new, just as blogs will. In the future, it will be a new medium. What it may become, I am not sure, but it is definitely exciting to see it evolve.

    Reply
  5. Street Fashion Paris

    Street Style Photography is form of art (yeah a bit pretentious I know). Trends do not play the main role in the street fashion photos, simly because photographers do not intend to make a copy of the lookbooks.

    It doesn’t mean that street style photographers ignore trends, but rather that beeing dressed from head to toe with trendy/label stuff is not enough:)

    Reply
  6. Richard

    It really does depend on the guy behind the camera. If you a guy like Tommy ton, or Liam, you have a certain way of looking at style. Well that is why they’re well known in the fashion world, because of the style they choose to capture. Its what separate a lot of street style photographers out there.

    A little over a week ago i grabbed my camera and decided to hit the streets, in many cases it is harder to take individual styles with this approach because this is not fashion week, or some bs fashion event that i cant attend(lol). People, regular people, on the street generally do not want their picture taken, but while i was out and about i wasn’t looking at the young and hip, in reality i was avoiding that group. I was more after that “interesting thing”, and i think that is what the popular street style photographers do. Is all about capturing the moment now, mix with fashion and style of course.

    Reply
  7. Gabrielle

    After going to Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week and seeing how the “big name” street photographers operate, I completely agree with the pessimism cited in this post.

    They take photographs of their best blogger friends, and then upload them to their popular sites as if that girl was a superstar rather than their bff.

    It’s mutually beneficial – the street style blog readers think that the blog has captured a celeb, and the “celeb” gets featured in a way that legitimizes her fake fame.

    It’s really sickening, and I think that, though street style can be done well, it’s quickly devolving into an incestuous little community aimed at inciting envy and an air of exclusivity that proves more hurtful than anything.

    -Gabrielle

    Reply
  8. Kholá

    Street style photography interests me very much. I don’t think the focus is 100% on the young and beautiful. Personally, I visit street style blogs that have more mature fashionistas (30 and above). I do visit blogs with young subjects as well but to me it IS about the fashion, the clothes, the style.

    Reply
  9. Rebekah

    What I love about streetstyle these days is that there is such a diverse range of sites to check out. If you don’t do your research and follow the main blogs you are going to get bored very quickly. Street style will only get more popular as people get more tired of seeing set up photo shoots in magazines and turn to the normal person. There was a great article in the Chicago Tribune that was really interesting
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/life/sc-fash-0806-fashion-blogs-20120814,0,3806790.story

    Reply
  10. Emily

    I started blogging during August of 2011 and have been absolutely hooked ever since! Since I am on Tumblr, it gives me so much creative freedom in what I chose to display and post. I also love interacting with my followers and seeing what they would like to see more of and what they think about my blog in general. My Tumblr is predominantly fashion oriented, but I definitely like to mix up the styles in my posts. I love channeling my inner bohemian as well as expanding into ultra-modern looks as well.

    I love communicating with my fans not only on Tumblr, but on over social media outlets as well. One of my favorites is definitely Twitter! You can check out my twitter here! [www.twitter.com/eber57]

    Check out and follow me on Tumblr as well (only if you like it, of course!) — [www.lun-ette.tumblr.com]

    Thank you all so much!
    Emily

    Reply
  11. The District of Couture

    As a Fashion Street Photographer in Washington, DC I can attest it is not easy finding someone, anyone with original style. Since many folks that live in DC actually work some type of government job they are rarely stepping out of the box when it comes to style. I’m so desperate to get an image I often times find myself lowering my standards.
    Most of the blogs I come across seem to focus on that bloggers personal style or celebrities…I am always on the hunt for a community of street fashion photogs…Thanks IFB for this article.
    Natalee
    http://www.TheDistrictofCouture.com

    Reply