Friday, March 1, 2013

Blogger-Certified Style Icon Miroslava Duma, and my Sordid Short Life as a Low-Rent Paparazzo





It was 4pm of Day Six of New York Fashion Week. I had been shooting all day, and the madness of the fashion week circus was wearing me down. I was tired of chasing style celebrities. I felt cheap, even a bit contemptible, some low-rent paparazzo fighting over images of rich Russian fashionistas I'd never even heard of before I started shooting street style. I resolved, as Dee from Racked NY and I made our way to the Reed Krakoff show on 22nd Street, to separate myself from the pack this time. I just wanted to go back to taking pictures of people I found interesting. I didn't care who they were or what place they occupied in the fashion world hierarchy. I needed to gain something of myself back.

When I saw the crowd of photographers gathered in front of the event, I made my move, walked up 22nd Street to stand on my own. I found a quiet spot some 100 feet from the corner of 22nd and 10th and waited. And within some 30 seconds of making that move, guess who I saw walking under an overpass headed directly towards me, with no else around to steal my shot? Miroslava Duma, of course, the queen of the Russian fashionistas and one of the most photographed figures in the entire street style blogosphere. I acted by reflex, no thought to my action. "Excuse me, Miroslava," I said. "Would you mind if I took your picture?" She nodded slightly and stopped for a moment, and I aimed and took my shot. One shot. The one just above this text. That's all I managed to get. I don't know what the hell was going on with my camera, but it wasn't focusing right. And Miroslava, naturally, had better things to do than wait around for me to figure it out. She quietly thanked me and moved on. And I went back to my resolve to focus on people, not celebrity.

The next person I saw, walking by herself towards me, was Kate Lanphear, the former fashion editor of Elle who now works for T Magazine and is one of the most notoriously difficult style stars to get pictures of. She tends to dress down (in relative terms, of course) these days and avoid cameras. "Excuse me, Kate," I heard the words escape my mouth before I could stop them. "Would you mind if I took your picture." She too — unbelievably— stopped, looked straight at my camera, and gave me approximately 1.5 seconds to take her picture before walking on. I got a few shots. None were my favorite. In fact, I had gotten better images of her earlier that day. But none by solo audience.

I then spotted an interesting-looking woman in a zebra-striped skirt that matched, or perhaps clashed, with the zebra-striped graffiti in front of the Comme des Garçons shop across the street. I had no idea if she was someone I was supposed to know about, and that was exactly what I was looking for. I crossed traffic to reach her and got a couple of really nice shots. I then took a couple of my favorite shots of the week, portraits of dressed-down models, each of whom generously gave me a couple of minutes of their time, in front of a tag-covered wall. I felt like a real street style photographer for a moment. And just as I was laughing to myself about how ironic it was that my strategy of not trying to compete with the other photographers was paying off in big, and rather unexpected way, I spotted Anna Della Russo across the street, a lone street style photographer casually taking her image. So I crossed the street again and jumped in on her shot. Was it a classy move? I don't know. But it's how the game is played.

2 comments:

  1. I find your accounts of the NYFW experience so interesting. These photos are just cool.

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