Street style photography in its truest form is, for the most part, unpredictable. It’s subject to the elements, and the only constants in the equation are you and your camera. You can’t control the temperature, the direction of the sun and you can’t know who or what you’re going to shoot until you head out onto the streets in search of your next subject. A subject may reveal themselves to you after just a few minutes on the streets or 5 hours (and many blisters) into your hunt or, sometimes …not at all. Either way, there’s a certain element of the unknown that comes with street style. And that’s the most exciting and frightening part about it.
Street Style, to me, sometimes feels like Christmas morning. When everything comes together and falls into place for the perfect shot, it’s as if someone dropped a little present on the street for me to unwrap and I’m a child all over again. The only catch with street style is that I have to really look for the photo and also feel inspired to shoot it.
And to put a finger on inspiration is a task in and of itself. Inspiration tends to strike at any moment – for me, anyway – resulting in a slew of mental notes, impromptu sketches and random snapshots. Which, in retrospect, are the things that semi-subconsciously collage themselves together to make those street style shots that somehow just work.
Whether I’m enthralled by the way the bright red, geometrically shaped scaffolding is juxtaposed against the clear blue sky or the way sun is dreamily reflecting off the hood of a car behind the subject I’m shooting, there really is no one formula.
When I know I want to shoot someone, it’s a gut instinct. It’s…something. Their hair, the way their belt is tied. Or perhaps I notice the way the sun is shining in a certain spot in the street, before someone serendipitously walks past in a flowy skirt. Sometimes, the shot is just waiting to happen. The subject is perfectly perched on a stoop and they needn’t move an inch. Other times I feel as though I’m painting a picture with my lens. Adding more yellow here (sunlight) adding a touch of brown there (shadow) and throwing in a composition- splicing horizon line in the background by having the subject stand against a specific fence or on a street corner.
Since I’m a romantic at heart and vehemently opposed to extensive post-production (other than cropping), I aim to create the final product within each photo frame. I want to translate what I see, how I see it and where I see it – on the streets.
I guess I’m ultimately inspired by the excitement and energy that comes with street style photography. I thrive on the sustained hope that all the elements – the light, the backdrop, the subject’s stance, their inherent sense of style – will come together. And obviously, there’s nothing sweeter than hearing the obliging “Yes” to the question: “Would you mind If I took your photo?”
Photos: Ashley Jahncke