‘Can I take your photo?’
‘Great, if you just want to stand there…’
That’s the most you’ll get, if you’re lucky. The occasional introduction might be thrown in, who they’re shooting for, where the picture will be published, that they like your coat, but most street style photographers have a one track mind; they’re there to capture a moment and that is that.
So it’s important that you know what to expect, what makes the perfect picture and what photographers are really looking for as they stalk the streets with their SLRs. Desperate models for one is not on their list, oversized hats Saint Laurent style however, are.
Now let us begin with this; street style is about the curious individual. This article is to simply enhance your understanding of the process should you be creeping around London’s streets come fashion week. Heading out in hope of being spotted isn’t the most realistic of plans, so please, use this information to widen your knowledge instead of misleading your inner model.
First off, if you’re going to grab a photographer’s attention, subconsciously or consciously, you’re best off wearing print. If a woman wandered past you wearing squiggles in a rainbow of flamboyant colours, would you miss her? Of course not, so whack on some spots and let the camera come to you.
Which swiftly leads us on to hues, tones and glows. If you’re a lover of all things orange, if you go weak at the knees for Barbie pink, give yourself a deserved pat on the back. And a big one at that. There’s nothing like a flash of colour popping out from the stone cold architecture of a city to make an image spring to life. Photographers all around are continually expressing their love for a burst of bright in their street snaps.
As for the items that will get you noticed, anything remarkably statement; a killer heel encrusted with jewels, two layered necklaces that are sparkling brighter than Cowell’s teeth, Chanel’s hula-hoop handbag. Items that are unexpected or create that unmissable focal point are undoubtedly sure-fire ways of grabbing attention. If not by a photographer, perhaps a fashion scout. Or Dello Russo.
So you’ve got their attention, now you need to make the shot work. Street style pictures have a definite difference to them compared to an editorial, studio shot. We often spot men and women looking busy/confident/engaged in conversation as they’re snapped gliding down the street (apparently the best photos are when the subject’s oblivious to the camera). So the key here is to not overwork your pose. Keep it natural, let it reflect your personality, have a little bit of laid back fun. And as silly as this may sound, practice, practice, practice. If you’ve ever found a blogger who’s a fan of street style, check out their first posts and then compare them to their current ones; the difference in shot presence is remarkable. And why’s that? Because they’ve simply had a wedge of time to perfect it. As your wise mother once said, ‘practice makes perfect’ and the same can be applied to modelling.
To avoid looking frumpy in photos, or for that matter, over exposed (although that shouldn’t pose itself as a problem at this time of year) make sure your outfit’s got a good sense of proportion to it. This is a fashion rule to bear in mind for day-to-day dressing but especially important for a photograph when you haven’t got a stylist to hand! If your trousers are baggy look for a tighter fit upstairs, the same can be said for the other way around; an oversized jumper will look top notch with skin-tight leather pants.
As for your face, approach your portrait one of two ways. If you’re a dark horse, show it. Keep those eyes hidden and your face covered with a statement hat. If you’re the girl known for her huge smile, embrace it. As Garance Dore (the French blogger) wisely said, it’s all about “attitude and personality”.
And finally for your inspiration. Face Hunter, Street Peeper and Fashion Beans (the latter being an exceptional street style source for men) are all packed with high-class street style photographs. As for the people behind the camera, keep your eyes and ears open for the names Tommy Ton, Phil Oh and Scott Schuman.