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Inevitable How-to Book on Street Style Photography Hits Shelves

Scott Schuman and Garance Doré may feel that street style is on its way out--but if the authors of the new how-to book about street style have anything to say about it, it's only just beginning.
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Scott Schuman and Garance Doré may feel that street style is on its way out--but if the authors of the new how-to book about street style have anything to say about it, it's only just beginning.

Street Fashion Photography: Taking Stylish Pictures on the Concrete Runway--which hit shelves this week--is the latest step in a trend towards making street style mainstream. The book, which is intended as a step-by-step guide to taking the perfect street style snap, follows the announcement of a new reality TV show about street style photographers that's currently in the works.

All the increased attention on street style has some photographers wary. "You know, the fact that there's a book just really informs people who are out of the know that not only blogging but street photography has become a lucrative business and you can definitely see it editorially and in the market and style pages of magazines in the last few years," acclaimed photog Tommy Ton told us.

"It's a lot of hard work and patience, and also it can be extremely expensive trying to travel and do the fashion month circuit," he added. "I'd advise new photographers to try and do something different like being local... It's really about having a point of view and making relationships."

The book's authors, photogs Dyanna Dawson and J.T. Tran of Street Fashion Style, agree with Ton on that note. We hopped on the phone with the duo to find out where their tips come from, if they're worried about potential competition, and why they feel street style is still compelling.

How did the book come about? Dawson: When we first started doing street style, there wasn't really anywhere to go for reference in terms of just the technicalities of street style--we had to learn on our own. And so when we had this opportunity to write a book, we thought it would be so amazing to be able to become that reference point for other bloggers and for other street style photographers that are starting out.

Had you been approached by the readers of your blog for it as well, or was it just kind of based on your personal experience? Dawson: Kind of both. Obviously we wished we'd had something--a manual--to start out. But we would get e-mails all the time, just asking various questions about, "What kind of camera I should get?" or, "What do you do when you approach people?"--we get these questions all the time. Theming out what to put in the book, [those questions were] actually really helpful because we were using questions that we've been asked.

How did you guys come up with the tips? Dawson: Really just from our own experience. There's a lot of trial-and-error and sort of what works and what doesn't, and that's not something that we were able to research on our own except for just doing it. Some people won't have to learn the hard way the same way we did. Approaching people especially can be really difficult. You can face a lot of rejection if you're not quite doing it... I don't want to say the right way--there's no right or wrong way--but it can be daunting to approach people. But I think that is probably one of the hardest things for me. And also just knowing what's going to photograph well.

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So what kind of tips are in the book? Is it just from the photography end? Dawson: It's the full gamut, really. There's a little bit of an introduction to photography if you're really, really fresh and a newbie; selecting cameras, selecting lenses--all sorts of things like that. And then it goes more into the actual on-site what you need to know, about approaching people, about lighting, about contrast, about composing shots, about what's going to photograph great, about what's not necessarily going to photograph great, about taking different types of shots--really everything you need to know about the 30 seconds that you're in action, photographing someone, is in there.

And then it goes a step beyond that into when you get to the editing room. And we have tips like, "Make sure to vary your angle to get lots of different types of shots," because the worst thing that could happen is that when you go to the editing routine and you have a ton of the exact same shot and none of them convey what you want, which is obviously something that we learned the hard way. It's very comprehensive.

Is there anything in the book about what to look for in potential street style shots? Dawson: We do talk about what we look for, but we're not trying to encourage people to go out and do exactly what we do. We want them to find their own voice. We talk about how there are different types of blogs and street style blogs where you could have a niche blog where it's all black and white or you have a niche blog where it's regional. We are trying to tell people not to be just like us, but at the same time we do talk about what we look for personally. We definitely want people to go out and find their own voice.

Street style definitely used to be more of a niche. Do you feel like it's becoming too crowded at all, or that interest is waning? Tran: There are a lot of others who have done street style--and obviously we're not the first to do it--however I feel that it's not finite. There's going to be an endless amount of fashion and an endless amount of people to photograph out there. I don't think it's really a situation where it's competition, because think about the amount of people out there--and everyday the world's getting more connected to blogs in fashion and online. I personally feel that the interest is growing and I don't feel that street style blogs are waning at all.

And one last thing about it is that it does take a lot of time. We've been doing this since 2008 so I don't have a feeling that every person who picks up a camera is gonna start doing it. It really takes time out of your days--it's a full-time job or your day job, but not everyone has that kind of time.

Why street style? Why are you guys interested in it, or why should other people be interested in doing it? Dawson: I've always been more interested in seeing how trends play out in the streets than on the runway, seeing both how it trickles down and also how it goes bottom-up, so on a personal level that's where my interests lie.

Tran: I feel that one of the reasons I started was I always felt beautiful inspiration everyday and I wanted a way to remember it, report it, and that once I did that it would be possible to even share it. How many times do you have something--it doesn't have to be fashion--just something beautiful or something amazing? A big part of my life is fashion and I feel like you need to express yourself in a beautiful way and just report it so you don't forget. It's celebrating.

Street Fashion Photography: Taking Stylish Pictures on the Concrete Runway is available now; check out some preview images from the book here: