Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Old School Philly Street Style: Kinshasa, Sydenham St

Kinshasa is the owner and proprietor of Kwamikaz Boutique. The accessories she is wearing in this shot are all from there. The skirt and tank, on the other hand, are from H&M, further driving home my contention that H&M has become a kind of semiotic blank canvas upon which to build a look. Kinshasa describes her style as "urban chic." She has an "urban fabulous vibe," she explained. She likes to wear "lots of accessories" but "keep it comfortable."


Monday, August 24, 2015

Old School Philly Street Style: Hector, 15th St

Hector says that he doesn't even know what his style is. He describes it as "nondescript." But on the streets of Philadelphia, it is anything but. The classic black Adidas align it with a range of old school street styles from skater to hip hop. The Dickies trousers, cut off with threads dangling over the knees, are vintage workwear, and a long-time staple of scenes like punk, skate, and skinhead that play up their working-class roots. The T-shirt, meanwhile, is a nod to one of Hector's favorite films, a cult horror movie from 1983 called "Deadly Spawn." It announces Hector as a B-movie buff, a semiotic move typical of people who associate with metal and goth. The long hair strengthens the association with metal, and the beard, bold and lustrous in the style of the moment, puts a hipster spin on the whole package. There may not be a pithy term that sums up Hector's style, but that doesn't make it illegible, and certainly not nondescript. My eyes were drawn to him for the wealth of familiar subcultural signs.      


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Old School Philly Street Style: Nik Hampshire, Walnut St

I ran into Nik in the shop window of Ubiq on Walnut St. I had taken his picture in Rittenhouse Square about a year and a half back and have seen him pop up in a number of beard enthusiast Tumblr feeds since. His beard disappears into the shadows in this shot, so I've included another picture below. Once again, these are low-resolution scans of pictures taken on Kodak Tri-X film. Here, Nik's wearing a T-Shirt from Cotton On. Everything else is from Diesel


Monday, August 17, 2015

Old School Philly Street Style: Reece, 13th St

Black and white film photography has plenty of affordances that digital photography generally lacks: a richness of tones, a cinematic look, a tendency to draw its viewers' attention to shapes, contrasts, patterns, and themes that often disappear into the spectacle of color. But it has its limitations for street style work. For one, you can't see how colorful Reece's outfit is. The dynamic yellows, greens, and reds get translated into a solemn grid of grays. Is that what film photographer's mean when they claim that black and white does a better job of capturing the "essence" of a subject? The subject is reduced to its most basic visual attributes: pattern, shadow, tone. Perhaps it is easier to see a person when you strip away the clutter. 

Reece is a model, stylist, and artist, and the creative force behind Reece Ford Design (@reeceforddesign on Instagram). In this shot, she is wearing a top and a set of bracelets of her own design. Her earrings and necklace are from Bella Turka. The jeans are UNIQLO. The boots, of course, are Doc Martens. Reece describes her style as "very artistic and eclectic." 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Old School Philly Street Style: Jovan, 16th St

Shooting street style at the inaugural New York Fashion Week: Men's last month, I found myself thinking about how innovations in digital photographic technology have impacted the aesthetics of street style photography. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the standard convention for street style photography was what i-D Magazine founder Terry Jones dubbed "the straight up": a single figure stood centered in the frame, a minimum of space above and below her, arms resting limply at her sides, and no discernible expression on her face. The photos were like mug shots, or perhaps more accurately, early anthropological field photos. There was a documentary impulse behind these photos. But there was also an economic incentive. Film was expensive, and straight-ups were easy to take without wasting too many frames. Photographer Steve Johnston, the man behind the lens of i-D's earliest images, was on the dole. He had little money for film and used no more than two frames for each subject he shot.

Street style photographers today face no such limitations.Armed with high-end full frame DSLRs like the Nikon D4 and Canon EOS 1D, they shoot off 12 frames per second without accruing any additional costs. Street style photography has become a compendium of candid action shots of fashion industry moguls exiting runway shows. Photographers run ahead of their subjects, kneel down on the pavement before them, and shoot off as many frames as their cameras will allow. Street style photography has become a competitive sport, a fitting result perhaps of so many photographers shooting with cameras designed for sports journalists.When I am at Fashion Week, I shoot largely the same way: rapid-fire candids of style icons in motion. Only, my camera maxes out at 5 frames per second, so I lose a lot of the shots others get. It gets frustrating. And also a little boring.

I have gotten sick of the machine-gun pace of fashion week street photography, and I have decided to experiment with a different tack: slow street style photography. I want to teach myself to shoot the way old school street style photographers like Amy Arbus and Steve Johnston did, with a film SLR, taking just a few frames for each person. The idea is to take the time to compose and correctly expose each shot, to get the image I want in camera, rather than having to mess with it afterwards. 
    
So a couple of weeks back, I picked up an old Nikon F4 film camera off eBay and a few roles of Kodak Tri-X black and white film from B&H. I haven't shot with film in years, but it's been fun taking it on again. It has slowed my whole process down. Now that each shot is a limited resource, I have to make sure each one counts. And I don't get to see what I've got until the film gets developed! No more making adjustments to the exposure until I get a shot right. I'm just gonna have to know my shit right from the start. I'm memorizing exposure charts. I'm going as manual as it gets. I'll report back to you about how it all goes. In the meantime, here is a low-resolution scan of the first street style shot I got with my new analogue camera. I will be posting plenty more in the coming days.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New York Street Style: Urban Safari Gear, Washington St


Monday, August 10, 2015

New York Street Style: Denny Balmaceda, Washington St


Friday, August 7, 2015

New York Street Style: Jordan, Houston St


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New York Street Style: Eli Soul, Washington St


Monday, August 3, 2015

New York Street Style: Skii, Washington St