Sunday, November 27

RE: "Street Fashion Photography Is Messing with Me" (Thought Catalog)

Chelsea Fagan from Thought Catalog has beef with street-style photography. The way it's gone, she argues, isn't really suited for the average person -- it's no longer about real, everyday people.
And she makes some good points... And some that I'd like to contest.

"WHO ARE YOU?" she'd ask.

The story below.
Click it, yo.
(That was a rhyme. It's so sublime. Ahaha.)

Someone recently sent me a link to a Thought Catalog article called "Street Fashion Photography Is Messing with Me." Now, I'm always a little afraid of checking them out because some of the writers of Thought Catalog are thoughtlessly cynical people. I'm not so much concerned with the pessimism as much as I am with how unjustified and unrelentingly angsty some of their writers are. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy the snarky wit of cynical people (who, when I think about it, make up a rather large proportion of the people I know. What does that say about me?). And it's okay to be whiny once in a while.
But to say things that have no basis is dangerous and unfair. And if someone whines all the time... (Though I admit that I am guilty as charged, haha.) Well, it just gets old, and it's like, Pssssssssh. This again? Also, pessimistic people depress me.
Despite this, they have some they have some really funny snippets, deep snippets, sweet snippets, thought-provoking snippets. Some that make me laugh, some that make me furrow my brow, some that make me bite my lip.

Anyways, I'm getting distracted. Here's the run-down of the article, which talks about how blogs about street style really aren't fair.
1) They photograph only models.
The rebuttal: I don't know that any of my subjects so far have been models. Since I've been stuck solely on-campus for this (awful, awful -- I live in the library) semester, I'm pretty sure that almost all of them are, in fact, students. (Hopefully, I'll have more time to explore next semester. Gah, I long for those days.)
2) The subjects of street-style photography do nothing but wear their best and wait at street corners, hoping to waylay photographers.
The rebuttal: Every one of my subjects has so far been waylaid by me. I can even give you the list of the people so far!
One, talking in the park; one, reading on a bench; five, walking; one, waiting for the bus; one, at a protest; one, on the phone; two, studying at the library.
My street-style photography is all of genuinely random people who don't expect it. (I actually always feel like a Grade-A creeper because of it. Haha.)
3) These people wear kooky, bizarre things like Nerds-rope dresses.
The rebuttal: Hm. Not quite. I admit that something really unique or rare things (like harem pants in Pittsburgh) usually catch the eye more easily. But I'm still a big fan of things that are simply done well.
4) Street-style photography only captures people in expensive clothes instead of "a picture of some girl wearing an H&M cardigan in a smart, interesting way." (This is a direct quote from her. Don't slam me with copyright things, please.)
The rebuttal: I have never photographed anyone in brand-name gear so far. Or at least if I have, I didn't know it. I honestly just like to photograph people with interesting style or something that I think they wore well.
5) You get one of two extremes: very clean-cut or crusty.
The rebuttal: My subjects don't all look like they've just come out of the salon. I'm not saying that they've been dipped in grime or anything, but they're just normal people -- everyday people returning home after work, going to class, walking with a friend.
As for the "crusty people" thing, I think she's referring to (oh, goodness... I'm going to get such crap for using this term, but I can't really think of anything else to say since she kind of painted the stereotypical image) hipsters. I don't think that being unclean is by any means fashionable. In fact, I love my showers, hair care, etc. Trust me -- I'm a germophobe (though I've gotten a bit less neurotic, I hear). But if she is referring to hipsters (I'm apologizing, I'm apologizing!), I don't see a problem. I personally find their fashion choices very interesting, and they often have a lot of unusual things to offer. I admit it -- I find some of their outfits captivating. So what if they wear weird things? They're being creative, and I appreciate their bravery and creativity (though not always the actual things that they wear).
6) It's impossible to find people to photograph.
The rebuttal: Not true! Not at all true! Admittedly, I only stumble upon people once in a while (maybe once every few days), but they're not extinct. If you want to find people who inspire you, I suggest you just wait.
Sit in a an area with high pedestrian traffic. Go to a coffee shop in the city. Head to a heavy (shopping) commercial district.
If you really want to see different styles, go to different places. Don't just sit at the computer -- explore!
7) Only skinny people end up on street-style blogs.
The rebuttal: I photograph people whom I think bring something to offer to the dialogue of fashion. Weight and body shape have nothing to do with it. So long as I like what you're wearing, I'm photographing you.
8) The normal person will not see a classy elderly person on a scooter.
The rebuttal: Hm... I admit that I've not yet met anyone with a scooter. But I'm convinced that it's my fault. If I really were to look around (again, no time during this semester), I'm certain that I'd find someone with a scooter. I think it's all about looking hard enough and/or being in the right place.

Now, I'm sure that she was generalizing, but I still think that everything depends on the blog. Maybe she's pointing to a larger general trends; maybe she wants to raise some of her frustrations to the surface. I can grant her that -- I admit that her comments have value. But I will say this: for every comment she makes, any number of blogs will counter her argument. (Mine, for instance! Huzzah!)
I have big dreams for myself (look out, world! I'm going to be bold and bright! Once I stop being a broke college kid, that is), but I am still very much interested in street-style. What are the interesting things that people wear? What kinds of trends exists in subcultures? How many ways can you wear an article of clothing? These are the kinds of things I want to know and to share!

These are my current goals for now, at least. Might I one day sell out? I can't say -- the future isn't something I can know right now. But for now, I want the everyday. I want the real people.
I want you. I want me.

Sources: The Sartotialist, Thought Catalog

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