Friday, June 7, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Elle, Chestnut St

I found Elle just as I was on my way to the subway to head home. It had not been a good day for shooting street style. It was hot. People were in more casual clothes than usual. And I was in something of a funk. A self-imposed funk at that. I'd started to wonder again what it was I was looking for in my subjects. Bad idea. Once you start thinking on a street style shoot, the chattering takes over, gradually edging out instinct. Pretty soon all that's left is chatter. Was I looking for fashionable people for my blog? Edgy people? People in spritely summery attire? Was I looking for people who represent the carefully cultivated brand identity of Urban Fieldnotes? And what is that again? Once you start thinking on a street style shoot you can no longer make decisions. 

And then it came to me, an epiphany. I was looking for looks that I like. That's all. Nothing more complex than that. I didn't have to be consistent in what I was after. My likes, after all, are not consistent. The only criteria I had to use was whether or not I liked someone's look. It felt like a great weight had been lifted.

But what do I like again? It seems like a simple enough question, but when you look directly at your likes, they seem to disappear. And what does it even mean to like something? Is it to have an affinity towards something? To resonate with something? To get pleasure out of something? To desire something? Surely I take pictures of plenty of outfits I wouldn't want to own and plenty of people I'm not attracted to as such. So this whole just having to like someone's look thing wasn't working either. Chatter. Chatter. Chatter.

I let go of the liking rule too and went back to my old faithful. I had to feel some kind of immediate reaction to someone, some unnamable pull. But as I leaned against the concrete walls of Walnut St, sweating profusely, practically melting into the sidewalk, my instincts felt slack and lifeless too. I decided to go home. And that's when I saw Elle. Truth be told, I had seen her on Wednesday too but hadn't reached her on time to take her picture. I don't know if instinct kicked in or just the memory of instinct from the other day, but in any case, I knew I wanted to take her picture.

Elle's outfit is all Asos. The real pull for me, however, is the beat-up old wing tips. Those are shoes with a patina.  


  1. It makes me feel a little better that you struggle with nailing down what you find appealing. I feel like I'm always second-guessing my style and what I like on other people.
    I'm impressed you were out in that heat wave! Yuck!

  2. WHERE HAS THIS BLOG BEEN ALL MY LIFE??? Or rather since I've been living in Philadelphia??? I've always felt there was so much style to be captured here, in this city. Philly has a unique culture of its own when it comes to people's aesthetic influences. It's one of the reasons I decided to pick up a camera and shoot in the first place, I wanted to document! You capture your subjects so beautifully. love love this blog and the whole idea behind it. Thanks for being such an inspiration!


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