Wednesday, June 29, 2011


By Eva Fydrych

”Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.” - Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham - Fashion Photographer from New York

STREET FASHION is a very specific genre of photography that is not very easy to define. It features mainly random people in the streets, instead of carefully chosen models, and it focuses on their outfits - clothes and accessories. The main goal is to show the latest trends, how the street and real people respond to the fashion shown on the catwalk, and to find some interesting and stylish people who have their own unique style. 

Bill Cunningham
For some reason, street fashion has become recently something like a global phenomenon and appears not only in the fashion blogs all over the world, but also in the magazines and newspapers.

The recent success o"Bill Cunningham New York" - a documentary about the famous fashion photographer who started the trend in NYC - shows the scale and importance of documenting the street fashion. In the beginning of the movie, Anna Wintour admits: "I've said many times that we all get dressed for Bill." And this single statement from the famous Vogue editor, says it all. 

Bill Cunninghaphotographs fashionable people in the streets of Manhattan every single day. His passion and dedication are outstanding. In his regular column in New York Times, he identifies trends according to what he sees in the streets. In his opinion, to have the whole pictures of the fashion trend, you need to include two elements: the catwalk - which is the designer's vision of what people should wear, and the street - which is the real place where the "fashion show" takes place. Bill treats all people he photographs in the same manner, no matter where they come from or how famous they are:

"I'm not interested in celebrities with their free dresses. I'm interested in CLOTHES." - he says.

More about the movie by Richard Press: BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK

Some useful tips for photographers who are just starting out:

  • Always ask for permission before taking the photos. Explain why you want to take the picture and where it is going to be used.
  • Have your business card ready. It should have the name of the website/blog where the picture is going to be published.
  • Take at least 2 different shots. One full-body, one close-up. Use different angles.
  • Make sure that the background and composition are OK. In a nut shell - approach street fashion shots the same way as you would do the proper location fashion shoot; don't forget about the lighting!
  • Be friendly, the first impression when approaching a stranger in the street is very important and may determine if the person says "yes" or "no" to your request. Smile!
  • Never take any photos without someone's permission.
  • Don't get discouraged when someone doesn't like to be photographed. It happens from time to time. Move on.
  • Make sure, you are up-to-date with the latest trends. Having good fashion background and being familiar with everything that is happening on the catwalk is very important. Pick up some good fashion magazines (Vogue, Elle, Flaire, Fashion, Marie Claire etc.), browse the internet, read some books about the fashion history. It will all help at some point to make your pictures better. Having a good eye and knowing what is stylish and what is not - that's one of the secrets to taking great street fashion photos. 
  • Remember: every photographer has a different style and approach. With time you should be able to develop your own.
By Eva Fydrych

Street fashion from Toronto;Trend: Bold Prints (Photo by Eva Fydrych)

Street fashion from Montreal; Trend: Minimal White (Photo by Eva Fydrych)

Here are some examples of the best/most popular street fashion blogs on the web:

Street Peeper by Phil
Japanese Streets by Kjeld Duits
Facehunter by Yvan Rodic
The Satorialist by Scott Schulman
Garance Doré by Garance Doré
Jack & Jil by Tommy Ton
The Street Walker by Yael Sloma
Stil in Berlin by Mary & Benjamin
The Locals by Søren Jepsen
Hel Looks by Liisa & Sampo

Bill's New York Times column (© New York Times)

The best advice is a very simple one: just take your camera and start shooting. Analyze your photos, see what you can improve and practice as much as possible. And make sure you watch the movie about Bill Cunningham. He started it all!

“See, if you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do. That’s the key to the whole thing!” - Bill Cunningham

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