Street style's a hot topic lately. So we thought after that Times profile blowing the lid off the subject and revealing how contrived and monetizing the whole medium has become, we'd chat with pioneering street style photographer Scott Schuman (again) and get his perspective on something that he, in a way, helped create.
We caught up with him on the last day of NYFW and he had some interesting things to say about how he still shoots Anna Dello Russo even though she dresses to get photographed, why seats at shows are going to him instead of stylists, and how some editors are "biting the hand that created them."
Fashionista: What are your thoughts on brands giving people clothes to wear in hopes they will end up on a street style blog like yours? Scott Schuman: I don’t really care where these people get their clothes from, it doesn’t matter to me, it isn’t going to matter 100 years from now. A good shot is a good shot. That’s all I really care about. But you can tell who are the people who are going over the top to create a shot [or] to be shot. There’s something about that, that, to me anyway, doesn’t create a good shot. There’s something very calculated about it.
The only one [like that] I still shoot is Anna Dello Russo. Only because I think it’s still so charming. She’s still so touched when people shoot her and show appreciation for her. She’s the only one who plays into that whole thing, but I think still has a lot of sincerity. All that other stuff out there just doesn’t affect me. I’m just doing my job the way I’ve always done it. You know I shot three people coming over here, just people on the street, so to me [fashion week] is just an extension of how I always shoot.
Has it become harder at all to find sincere, authentic style, especially during fashion week, with all the preening and peacocking? People say, “Oh people get so dressed up for you." People were always getting dressed up to go to fashion shows; there just weren’t always so many cameras. That’s why I came here in the first place. But the seats that people like me or Tommy [Ton] or Garance [Dore] or Rumi [Neely] are taking are seats that used to be filled by stylists. And stylists were the people that drew me here thinking...like Carine, Emmanuelle Alt who started as stylists. We’re not shooting the new [stylists] because they aren’t coming to the shows because they don’t have a seat. It’s only created a problem in the sense that--and it shows how important having your own media is--those seats are going to bloggers.
Do you think that, in some cases, editors are dressing up more as sort of response to the street style explosion? Oh yeah. A lot of them say, “Let’s change in the car, let’s switch it up.” The funny part is, the ones who are joking about it the most are the ones who have gotten the most out of it. There are editors who have never been part of that, who have never been shot, I don’t think they really care, it’s just a nuisance to them. But I’m surprised at the amount of editors who have actually been quite helped by [getting photographed] who almost seem to [joke the most about it]; it’s almost like they’re a little embarrassed. They’re almost biting the hand that created them.