Monday, September 8, 2014

Instagramming the Hell out of NYFW, Day 4

Dylan Xue, outside DKNY
I spend way too much time on my iPhone, checking messages, looking at pictures, and yet, compared to the average street style photographer at New York Fashion Week, I am practically an iPhone teetotaler. Other photographers look only in two directions: at their phones and at the door where the models are supposed to come out. They send each other texts about the locations of the next show, monitor Facebook and Twitter for inside information, and obsessively check the number of likes and comments on their latest Instagram post as if it were a running tally of their cumulative self-worth.   
Nora Vai, outside DKNY
It is not at all uncommon for photographers to announce to one another the the number of new followers they just acquired after posting their image of Rihanna, Carolina Issa, or whoever, or to tell each other who just liked their post. "Nabile just liked my photo," a friend of mine who shoots for a major website told me as we were waiting outside Public School, speaking of the photographer behind J'ai Perdu ma Veste. We both understood the significance. Nabile doesn't seem like the kind of guy who likes anything. To a street style photographer these days, Instagram is everything. It's how you build an audience, how you measure your popularity, even how you get photographic gigs. Photographing the right people can get you followed by major editors, stylists, and producers. It can put you on an important person's radar. And so photographers don't take chances with Instagram. They are careful and deliberate about who they post. And if they don't get the response they expected from their followers, they may even delete the image. One photographer explained to me that it can make a model (for instance) look bad if she doesn't get enough likes. He doesn't want that to then reflect badly on him. So even if he loves a picture himself, he'll delete it if it doesn't reach a critical threshold of likes.
SooJoo Park, outside DKNY

Recognizing the importance of Instagram, I started doing something I've been loathe to do at Fashion Week before, collecting names and Instagram handles from the people I shoot whenever I get the chance (or don't already know who they are). It's worked for other people. Time to find out if it can work for me. I'll let you know.

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