Monday, September 30, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Katie, Sansom St

It's good to be back on the streets of Philly! I still have lots more pictures from New York Fashion Week to show you, but I thought it was time to start posting some of the shots I've been taking in Philly as well. 

Let's start with Katie. I caught her on the way back to work during her lunch break, carrying a bag from the Philadelphia Pretzel Company. We left that out of the shot. She wasn't super keen to talk about her style, musical preferences, or outfit today. "I'm just not that cool!" she insisted. But this shot, posed at the opening of a parking garage on Sansom, is one of my favorite pics from Philly in a long time. If there's one thing Fashion Week taught me about shooting it's "play with angles and lines." I'm getting tired of the street style straight up. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Photographers of Fashion Week

Outside Creatures of the Wind
Shooting for 17 Magazine
This is the first installment of several weekly segments documenting the street style of various street style photographers shooting New York Fashion Week. Think of it as meta-street style. Or don't. Because in truth, all the street style photographers are already shooting and posting other street style photographers all the time, whether they label them as such or not. I've already featured a few during my Fashion Week coverage without designating them some special segment status. Yesterday's post, for instance, of Chèrmelle Edwards was one. It's getting harder and harder to tell the subjects of street style from the objects of street style. Once the camera became the hottest accessory at Fashion Week, that distinction just ceased to be relevant. Ok, so I guess this isn't the first installment of my weekly segment on street style photographers after all. Maybe we can just call this "street style."  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

NYFW Street Style: Chérmelle D. Edwards, Coffeetographer

coffeetographer smdlr rag&bone

smdlr coffeetographer rag&bone

One of the best things about shooting Fashion Week is all the other bloggers you meet and new blogs you discover. One of my favorite new discoveries from this past Fashion Week was Chérmelle Edwards' (short for "small, medium, large"), a street style blog documenting the looks of patrons at New York coffee shops. I also had some really nice conversations with Chérmelle. She describes herself as a "coffeetographer," and we bonded over the anthropological ambitions of each of our projects. These pictures are of Chérmelle outside the Rag & Bone show at Skylight on 33rd St. This is the location, by the way, that I heard the most complaints about from other street style photographers. Too many commuters on their way to or from Penn Station asking why there are so many photographers around.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Models Off Duty: Hanne Gaby Odiele

They say the era of supermodels has passed, and I'm inclined to believe them. There are no new Linda Evangelistas or Tyra Banks, models whose names are recognizable to a broad swath of the general population. Belgian-born model Hanne Gaby Odiele, however, is about as close to a supermodel as people get these days. When she exited shows like Jason Wu and Philip Lim, photographers swarmed around her. And Hanne Gaby, for her part, seemed happy to pose for them. It's no secret these days that posing for street style shots is part of a model's informal job description. Hanne Gaby has made the most of this aspect of her career, launching herself through street style photographs to a new level of international recognition. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

NYFW Street Style: Outtakes from an Imaginary L'Oréal Ad

Shot these at 11th and 26th, before DKNY.

Monday, September 23, 2013

NYFW Street Style: Mademoiselle Yulia, outside Jason Wu

There's a passage in Don Delillo's novel White Noise that has always resonated with me. Delillo describes "the most photographed barn in America" as a tourist attraction in the middle of the country with so many signs advertising it on the way there that people are almost almost unable to see it once they finally arrive. People come to the "most photographed barn in America" for one simple reason: to photograph it. Why? Because it's the most photographed barn in America. 

There's something of a similar phenomenon going on at Fashion Week. The street style photographers come from all over the place to take pictures of those people who have their pictures taken most often: Natalie Joos, Miroslava Duma, Aimee Song, Rumi Neely. We know these people are worthy of having their pictures taken because we've seen so many pictures of them already. We've been primed to see them as photographs. Under such circumstances, it is almost impossible to know whether such subjects are intrinsically photogenic, or simply appear to be so, because we've already seen so many pictures of them. It's easy for one's judgment to become clouded. Am I taking this person's picture because they look amazing, or do they look amazing because I've seen so many pictures of them?

That's why it was something of a relief for me to see Mademoiselle Yulia strolling up Mercer St before Jason Wu. Sure, I'd seen pictures of the Japanese DJ and musician before, on Koo's site, for example, and Le 21ème, but there is no question that I would take her picture no matter where I ran into her and no matter who I thought she was. For me, she is like a street style archetype: one part high-fashion, one part Harajuku, one part hip-hop inflected streetwear. The woman just oozes attitude. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

NYFW Street Style: Rebecca of The Clothes Horse

outside Peter Som

I ran into Rebecca from the personal style blog The Clothes Horse on 15th St, outside Peter Som. I had separated myself from the pack of photographers for a while, trying to get far enough up the street to get my own shots, without a dozen other photographers surrounding me. Ten minutes after this, that was no longer possible.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

NYFW Street Style: In Stark Black and White

platinum blonde Asian Lincoln Center

platinum blonde Asian Lincoln Center

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Backstage at Helmut Lang

On Day Two of Fashion Week I got the chance to shoot backstage at Helmut Lang. These are my photos from that event. I chose to present them in black and white for one simple reason: that has become the convention on street style websites. You know you've entered into backstage territory when full color gives way to grayscale. So why are backstage photos so often presented in black and white? I think there are essentially three reasons: 1) Black and white is steeped in a history of photojournalism, and it lends an apparent weight of authenticity to backstage photographs; 2) there is something kind of romantic about backstage photos that black and white helps enhance. The prosaic reality of models getting made up and dressed is thus transformed into a Felliniesque fairy tale full of rising starlets and fading supermodels; and 3) the lighting backstage is typically terrible. Colors look faded. Skin tones look dead. And if you're not shooting with a flash (as I wasn't), you have to revert to a high ISO that gives the photos a grainy look. Black and white makes those flaws into an asset.The grain looks intentional, the harsh lighting cinematic.

I liked shooting backstage, and I hope I get a chance to do so again. You get a very different impression of the fashion industry than you do out on the streets. Backstage you see the models in their various stages of becoming. You see them morph from girls into mannequins. And you see how ordinary and mundane their lives are, no matter how glamorous they seem from the outside. Models read books backstage, sneak in a quick meal. They sit still for an often uncomfortably long time while make-up artists and hairstylists convert them into someone else's vision of beauty. They often look flat-out bored backstage. And yet that boredom, captured in stark black and white, reads as much more literary, like ennui or existential angst. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

NYFW Street Style: Outside DKNY

outside DKNY NYFW

I took these shots about five feet from Bill Cunningham on the corner of 11th and 26th.

Monday, September 16, 2013

NYFW Street Style: Rachel-Marie Iwanyszyn of Jag Lever

Jag Lever NYFW

Jag Lever NYFW

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fashion Week Ends at Last: Notes from Day Eight

Fashion Week has come and gone, and I am still standing. Day Eight was the finale, with far fewer shows than previous days, but all big and all swarming with photographers. I started out the day at Ralph Lauren's show in an industrial section of Washington St, right next to the UPS shipping center, and finished it at a nondescript locale on Varick St for Calvin Klein. It was a day of bleak landscapes and bleaker weather, sticky and hot, giving way to an inevitable downpour. Luckily, I was drinking margaritas, safely tucked away in a Mexican restaurant in the West Village during the worst of it.
I'm not sure who this is, but she was my favorite model of the day, twirling and posing in a dozen different configurations, all while maintaining eye contact with my lens. 
I tried imitating a bunch of photographers' styles over the course of Fashion Week, watching them shoot and noting their techniques. Some photographers, including Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème, Youngjun Koo of I'm Koo, and Michael C. Dumler of On Abbot Kinney, prefer to run in front of their subjects, shooting in rapid fire succession, and capturing style as if it were a fleeting reminder of all of our mortality. Adam specifically asks his subjects not to look at his lens. He's avoiding the feeling of intimacy, the false sense of connection. When he shoots faces, he shoots them in extreme close-ups, effectively decapitated and decontextualized. These photographers' shots are fragmented. Their backgrounds a dense blur. For them, fashion is motion. It goes by in a split second, and then it's gone. 
outside Ralph Lauren red white blue stripe
Blogger Linda Tol, reveling in the attention and walking through traffic outside Ralph Lauren. Thanks, Simbarashe, for her name.
Others, like Tommy of Jak & JilPhil Oh of Street Peeper, and Nam of STREETFSN remain relatively stationary, preferring their models to pass by them, and keeping a sharp eye on whatever activity is happening around them. They tend to stand by themselves, and in Tommy's case, shoot with a telephoto lens, so that they don't need to get that close to their subjects. Their shots, like those of Adam and Koo, are often comprised of fragments and details, but they also shoot the surrounding scene, the chaos of the crowd, the interactions of editors and models. Of course, in the case at least of Tommy and Phil, they have a distinct advantage over other photographers. Shooting for and respectively, in addition to their own blogs, all of their subjects know them personally and will stop for them when they won't stop for anyone else. They work hard, no doubt, but they don't have to hustle the way the rest of us do. Their shots reflect this relatively relaxed position, with an intimacy and sense of presence lacking in most other peoples' work.
yellow dress happy necklace Ralph Lauren
Stylist and fashion director at Tatler Russia Anya Ziourova, wearing a "Happy" necklace outside Ralph Lauren. 
And then, of course, there's the style of Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist, which has evolved into some interesting directions in recent months. Once preferring the straight-up portrait, he now shoots his subjects most commonly in landscape mode, like the top photograph in this post, with a relatively crisp and deep depth of field and a heavy play of light and shadow. I saw Scott at a number of shows this Fashion Week, but he wasn't shooting much. Instead, he attended the shows himself. He was also busy collaborating with photographer Steve McCurry on a forthcoming short film. When he did shoot, he seemed to wander off by himself, capturing his subjects in the desolate landscapes of the city. He doesn't get caught up in the game of the other photographers, fighting for a good position amidst the crowd. He hangs out at a distance and waits for his shots. And then, of course, sometimes he just takes pictures of cool people in front of the shows like the rest of us.

Speaking of which, I dug the straightforward statement piece of the girl in the photograph above. She's not beating around the bush. No matter what people have to say about their styles at Fashion Week — "it's all about self-expression," "just being myself," etc, etc — everyone wants to be cool. It's nice when someone's chosen accessory makes that truth abundantly clear. And it's a more convincing sentiment than the matching necklace of Anya Zirouva in the photo above this one.
necklaces Anya Zirouva ralph lauren day eight
And here is what happens when two statement pieces become aware of one another.
Blogger extraordinaire Rumi Neely outside Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein was my final show of Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014. It was still drizzly out. They sky was a bright grey, letting the light through. Exhausted street style photographers lounged on steps on the side of the building as we waited for Miroslava Duma, Eva Chen, Anna Della Russo, and whatever models were in the show to walk by. Spirits among the street style starlets were running high. Those who had refused to pose earlier in the week were now posing with abandon, smiling even on occasion, and the photographers dragged themselves of the sidewalk to get their shots. I took my requisite photos of the usual suspects, shot a few models exiting the runway, then took a deep breathe, asked myself if I had what I needed, and found that I did. I said a few "goodbyes" to my fellow photographers, hopped on the 1 subway headed uptown, and caught a 3:45 Bolt Bus back to Philly. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And Fashion Week Drags on to Day Seven

Blah blah Fashion Week blah blah. By now the collective intelligence of the Internet has done as much thinking as it needs to do about New York Fashion Week. Too many Instagrams of runway shows. Too many selfies of wannabe starlets with a New York skyline in the background. Too many sweeping proclamations about Fall trends and "the next big thing." And yet there's still another day to go. It was 92 degrees in New York City for Day Seven. The bloggers were sticky and wet. The models were bedraggled and worn. The editors were already thinking about London and Milan. Just about all of us had already had enough of New York Fashion Week.
I've shot an awful lot of models these past few days. Here's another one, posing for photographers after Reed Krakoff. I'll be putting up the best of these shots in the days to come. 
Japanese Vogue editor Anna Della Russo arrived at Fashion Week only a day or two ago. Fashionably late, of course. The bloggers missed her and swarmed her today at every opportunity. This is the best shot I managed to get without punching anyone in the face. In a season where dressing down is the norm, Anna most certainly did not.
The big story to emerge out of New York Fashion Week Day Seven was that a freight elevator got stuck between floors at the show for Philosophy di Alberta Feretti. A number of high-profile editors and assorted other fashion industry big-wigs were on board. This being 2013, they all started Instagraming it immediately. I wasn't there, but word spread fast among the bloggers. Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21eme later relayed the events to me. He was a bit shaken by it, not because anyone was in any imminent danger. They weren't. But when it happened, he was stuck next to the elevator and offered to help lift a bunch of people out. No one would take his help, presumably because he's a photographer in an industry with a deep ambivalence towards photographers.  And so, with nothing else for him to do, he took a picture of the event on his iPhone, not to sell to magazines (he has a Nikon D4 for that) but just for personal recollection. When the elevator resumed operation, and the passengers stepped off, several of them called him "a fucking asshole" and worse. Several then proceeded to give him the cold shoulder at shows that afternoon. I heard Adam shout out an apology t one of the elevator passengers outside Reed Krakoff. But it was To no avail. The woman in question stomped by without so much as looking at him. So Adam feels terrible about doing what more or less everyone was doing in the situation (and which also happens to be his job), taking a picture.
My itinerary today began at Lincoln Center for the crowds exiting Michael Kors and the ones entering Nanette Lepore. I then walked down to 55th St for Proenza Schouler. When that was over, I hopped in a cab with three other photographers over to Chelsea Market. We got lunch and walked over to shoot Jeremy Scott. That was a big event in February, attracting all sorts of awesome freaks. This time it was a bit more mellow, a few scant club kids in neon. So I headed up a few blocks to 22nd St for Reed Krakoff instead. To end my day, I ran up to Lincoln Center again briefly, where I took exactly zero shots during the exit of Betsey Johnson. I then hopped on the bus home.