Thursday, 27 September 2012

THE.STREETS.

Today, I went and stood outside the Rochas show. I wanted to see what the outside of a Paris 
show looked like in comparison to one in London, and I wanted to refresh my ideas about 
streetstyle. As I mentioned before it's been bothering me - what the whole concept and 
phenomenon has turned into- and I wanted to find out exactly what and who was rubbing 
me up the wrong way.

Outside the Rochas show there was the normal babble of streetstyle photographers; Vanessa 
Jackman, Phil Oh and even Scott Schuman and Bill Cunningham wandering around. These 
guys are what I call respectable photographers- they're good at their art and have made a 
living from taking beautiful photos outside shows and other places. Then, there are the about
 fifty other photographers who run around like headless chickens taking everyone's photo like 
they're about to run out of time, and who flock like sheep to the obviously trendy over dressed 
girls who show up. I've used two animal simile's to describe these people so far without
even meaning to, but it just goes to show that these types of photographers (I'm generalising
here of course, just because I don't recognise you doesn't mean you're a bad photographer)
do not look at what the photograph and therefore end up acting as some kind of paparazzi
frenzied group.

Look at this:
Photobucket
Photobucket


This girl could not move more than two metres without being stopped and fifteen photographers
gathering around her to shoot. It must have taken her about twenty minutes to walk fifty metres.
And this is no unusual sight in London either (and I'm sure at all the international fashion weeks). 
As I watched her approach the entrance to the show where the PR's and other overly-photographed
guests were standing, she casually just stepped aside- took her camera out, and joined in the fun.

That's right, she wasn't even invited to the show! 
And then, out of nowhere- she becomes a photographer too!

And sadly, again, this is no unusual sight. Streetstyle star wannabees (I don't mean to be 
detrimental, but you know what I mean) rock up outside shows and act as the honey to 
fuel the "streetstyle photographers" busy-bee hive (couldn't help myself. Animals.)

I had to speak to her- I had to.

So I did. I told her and her friend that I was writing an article on streetstyle and that since I 
saw she had been photographed a lot I'd like to ask her some questions. Here are her answers 
and my conclusions:

She was a fashion blogger from Norway. No she didn't mind being photographed but she was
surprised by this amount of attention. In a baseball cap, with an on trend sports jacket over your
shoulders and big expensive sparkly earrings- you didn't? This was her first international fashion
week she has come to and she's come to shoot streetstyle for her blog. She said it was good being
photographed internationally because then yes, people might recognise you and would see that
you meant business. Because you were photographed for international magazines and websites? 
Yes.

Now, I must point out that I have nothing against her or others like her- she seemed lovely and 
yes she looked good. What confuses - and then irritates - me is that people think they will be
successful if they are photographed in expensive clothes outside internationally famous shows. 
The thing is, is that it makes sense, it just somehow seems wrong. I'm most definitely not
against a playful spurt of self-promotion and putting-yourself-on-the-map-ness, but this is to
the next level.Do you need any talent, have you done any hard work to be photographed?
Not really. Sure you bought the clothes but that's your business. The most awful thing, I think,
is that it works. People are impressed by your photograph being on a famous website, and
yes somehow you do get some invisible credit for it. But why? I think this is what confuses
 and angers me most, why does it?

And this is where it lies: everyone wants to be on those websites. Even though people act like 
they are above streetstyle (case in point: me), you still have that little urge of wanting Tommy 
Ton to snap your perfectly manicured and accessory embellished arm, you want Scott to pick
you out of the crowd. It's a guilty pleasure. You want to be part of the group. The cool crowd.
The cool-fashion-exclusive-super-duper-amazing-polished-perfect-expensive crowd. It is the
dream, the spectacle, the fantasy of fashion itself- just not on a runway, in the bloody street!
Fantastic! It's like making the runway come to life if everyone wears it- the fantasy becomes real!

At this point it seems like the best form of fashion photography ever. Yes, everyone dresses up for
 it, but so what? It's fun- it's fashion week. It's the time where everyone can play up to that ideal of
fashion, pretend we wear these clothes everyday. What I (and you, and we) must not forget is that
most people who see the images these photographs produce, do not necessarily work in this
business, and it's our on-duty time where we can, I suppose, make them believe the myth- live
up to our hype. We are creating a false reality for others to look onto.

Therefore what irritates me must be the way in which people seek fame from it, seek this to be 
their talent or 'job', not as part of something which they do. For example, all big editors go to 
shows, they can borrow fantastic clothes and so it's fun to wear them and if it so happens, be
photographed in them. We must not forget this is an industry which is hugely based on
appearance and so everyone tries to look their best. Fine. No problem. That can be filed under 
'the spectacle'- the fun bit of the job. Not when people try and get the job by standing in 
expensive clothes, loosing all self respect, looking pretty to get a job, a title. You have to work 
hard for that. I hope so anyway. Only time will tell what will happen to theses 'stars'.

What I'm really glad about is that I spoke to that girl, as it did make me realise she was
 just someone trying to get noticed within a very competitive industry, but is that the 
right way to do it, even if it is the most obvious?

I'm still not sure what my definite opinion is on the whole thing, and I would like to 
pin point it more. I don't think I would ever be able to say everything I have to say about 
this as I think it spreads far beyond mere streetstyle photography. But maybe (lucky you) 
I'll have a few more ideas by the end of the week in Paris. Please do let me know what 
your thoughts on streetstyle are!




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