Tuesday, March 5, 2013
New York Street Style? Or Models Off Duty?: Shooting Down the Street from Reed Krakoff, 22nd St
I took these shots one block away from the runway show of Reed Krakoff on 22nd St in New York City. I wasn't in front of the entrance. I wasn't huddled with the other photographers. Is this, then, street style, in the old-fashioned sense of the term? Other folks seemed to think so. I wasn't the only lone wolf street style photographer roaming the area around the event, looking for "impromptu" shots of "real people on the streets." You get better ambience that way: grafittied walls, backdrops of Chelsea with no other pedestrians stepping into your shot. And you get to keep your street style integrity more or less intact. I have to say, though, shooting near runway events feels a little like stacking the decks, especially when, as in these pictures, the people you just happen to capture out walking the streets also happen to work as professional models. But don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. Shooting professional models (and not paying them)is awesome. At least for the photographers. They're easy to work with. Nearly every shot is usable. But it's an open question whether the models get anything out of the deal, especially when photographers like me circulate neither their names nor agency info. Fashion's digital-age economy is built on volunteer, and often anonymous labor. And it's built on the assumption that if we get our image out there enough something amazing will happen for us. And sometimes it does. A Susie Bubble or an Olivia Palermo rises up out the Fashion Week fray every couple of years. They make their name explicitly through being seen over and over again at these events, with their names attached to their image or otherwise. As for everyone else photographed, who knows? Maybe street style photography has become a new form of exploitation, the image standing in for the body subjected to the dictates of labor. After all, we are all of us in the business of self-branding these days. We — as in the collective we of online entrepreneurs — are creative culture's new "precariat," and whether we have longterm careers or not depends in large part on how visible we are out there in the blogosphere. Being visible out there, furthermore, takes a lot of work. The bottom line: get used to not getting paid. That's what happens when everything is free.