Monday, December 3, 2012

Seasonal Photographic Disorder: On the Late Fall Street Style Blogger Blues

Emily, wearing a vintage suede and faux fur coat on a smoking break from Urban Outfitters.  
Last week, as temperatures dropped, and Philadelphians bundled up, all I wanted to do was hibernate. I wanted to sit in my warm living room with a bottle of Scotch and wrap myself in a blanket for the next three months.  And yet there I was, camera in hand, approaching stylish people on Walnut St, who would also rather have been somewhere else. There was a collective glum in Center City. You could feel it oozing from the sidewalks. The alleyways felt narrower. The streets felt heavier, like they could collapse in at any moment. I had two people turn me down for photos, and these days, that almost never happens. But people just don't want to be captured in these dour moments. And they would also rather not have to stop and talk to some dude with a camera. It would take too long to warm up again. 

It's a longstanding precept of anthropology that in order to really get to know the people you're studying, you need to spend at least a year with them, living through the seasonal changes they endure, experiencing the shifting rhythms of their daily lives. No doubt the same principle applies to street style blogging. You don't really know what street style blogging is like until you've shot style through a winter. Frankly, I'm not sure how other bloggers do it. It gets dark so much earlier. There's far less time in the day to go out. I've had to stop shooting by 4pm, because with skyscrapers all around, Center City's light turns utterly flat by then. My classes, however, don't let out until 2pm, so that poses something of a problem right there. When you combine the time crunch with the greater effort to find willing subjects, the predicament worsens. Plus, it seems rather obvious, but people don't care quite as much about how they look in the winter. Maslow's hierarchy of needs kicks in. You can only worry so much about fashion when you're struggling just to keep warm. My hope is that people eventually stop feeling the cold so much, start taking stylistic risks again, and that shooting street style goes more or less back to normal.

And there is some hope on the horizon. The next couple of days are forecast to be unseasonably warm. I will be out there with my camera to take advantage. 


  1. The lack of daylight and of stylish photo ops in the winter months contributed to my decision to expand the content of my blog from strictly street style photos. I was spending too much time out in the cold searching for subjects when I would rather be inside, with a blanket and bottle of good scotch ;)

  2. this has got to be a common blogger ailment, and your solution makes good sense. I may have to do something similar myself


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