How I'm Making It: Street Style Photographer Mr. Newton

Whether you're ready or not, NYFW SS12 is upon us. In the spirit of fashion week, we're bringing you a special interview with one of our favorite street style photographers, Mr. Newton. With a client list that includes Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Lucky, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Nylon, Elle UK, and every other publication you love to read, Mr. Newton has proved that he's more than some cool dude with a blog - he's a major force in on-the-street photography. We could give you quite a few reasons why this is so, from his unique perspective on fashion to his charming southern drawl, but we'd rather let Mr. Newton speak for himself. Fashionista: Where are you from and how did you get started as a photographer? Mr. Newton: I'm from Fayetteville, North Carolina - it's like southeastern North Carolina. I lived in Atlanta for a few years before New York, and now I've been here for 13 years. I started out shooting parties with cool kids and I would send those around, just to some friends, not anybody in the industry really. I used the Kodak website, where you had to sign in to look at the photos, and I noticed a good amount of people were signing in to look at them.

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What's the best neighborhood to shoot in? I would make an argument that SoHo is the best neighborhood for street style in the world. SoHo has a really great mix of lots of different types of fashionable people. And the cobblestone streets and the cast-iron buildings make for great backdrops. I also like to shoot in Williamsburg, because my blog skews a little younger and cooler.

What's a typical work day like for you? I'm usually either out almost all day shooting or I'm in almost all day editing, Photoshopping, emailing people, sending photos to clients, to magazines who license them, or to magazines and websites who hire me to shoot for them. In nice weather I'm usually outside shooting all day, like 11am to 6pm.

Are you represented by an agency, or do you have an agent that works with you to draw up contracts? Or is it all you? I have a law degree, so I am able to negotiate most things. My law degree can be helpful when working out things contractually. I also used to produce fashion photo shoots in New York, a lot of people don't know that. For two years I worked for agents who represented photographers, and so I was involved in producing studio shoots for magazines like Vanity Fair and for Steven Meisel. That taught me a bit about magazine page rates, I learned a bit about invoicing and managing money. Lately, it's really busy, thankfully. I can barely keep up. [laughs]

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You travel a lot for your job, so how often would you say you get on a plane in a month? And how does that affect your work and your personal well-being? Well, right now I'm living in a hotel, even in New York, and may be for the next few weeks. I never get tired of traveling, really. I enjoy it, and it gives my site a lot more variety, as well as a bit more authority because readers are looking at the site from around the world, so I want to have some taste, some flavor of these cities. The negative effect traveling has is that it can become wearing physically. It's not unusual for me to stay up all night during fashion month. I fall asleep with the lights on.

And what are your plans for the future of Mr. Newton? Just to keep traveling, and keep shooting, and keep my site viable, artistically and financially. If I had to shoot for the moon, I'd say my goal is to do this for the rest of my life. I want to have lots of fun with it, but I want to have top clients. To me, the next level down from that is just doing it as an art project, just for myself. I have no interest in ranking number 186 on a list of 200 street style blogs, I'd just feel like I should do something else. If I were a designer I'd want to show in a primetime spot in Lincoln Center, or in a really cool off-site space like Milk Studios. Go big or go home.

Any advice for the kids out there who want to become street fashion photographers?Move to a fashion capital. But not New York, there's too many here already! [laughing] I'm kidding. You need to be somewhere where you have a huge variety on a daily basis. That would be my biggest advice. Not to be too harsh, but I don't think there's much use in being a kick-ass street style photographer in Cleveland or Toulouse. You need to be in Paris or New York, or another major city.