Street style

Scott Schuman: "I think the world of social networks is a bit lost, everyone runs trying to save their jobs"

Talk about street style Without pronouncing his name it is almost sacrilege. American blogger and photographer Scott Schuman has earned the title of fashion documentary filmmaker of the 21st century. We chat with the master trendsetter about street style on the occasion of the publication of the book on the life of Bill Cunningham "A career in fashion" (the creator of the photography of street style as we know it). No one like him, with more than ten years behind his back recording the influence of the street, to comment on the present moment of street style.

"It's just cute boys and girls who take pictures of their looks and don't know anything about fashion".

Scott is considered one of the hundred most influential people in the world of design according to the magazine Time and has a very definite opinion as far as influence is concerned: "I think there are very few people who really have real influence". For him, microinfluence is a jungle, "There are many people to choose from, which is good, but I don't think there are many people who have an important influence". Feel that "the world of social networks is a bit lost " and that "Everyone runs trying to save their jobs, explain what they do and make a living". And he compares it to the time he started "The main difference to when I started the blog is that people who were influential or bloggers at that time, were just really passionate people because it was more difficult to make a blog. Kim Kardashian and other celebrities didn't have a blog because it was a lot of work. But now it's very easy ". Their competition at that time were people who really knew fashion "they went well or not in the photos". Now, as he tells us, "It's just cute boys and girls who take pictures of their looks and don't know anything about fashion. They have nothing interesting to say about fashion and it's a bit boring. A shame."

"For publishers the more images and more clicks, the better."

The one who was the only one with Bill Cunningham photographing the attendants to the parades is no longer. But that does not mean that it is now part of that circle of photographers who concentrate around all the influencers or celebrities to photograph them, point to mention the subject. Which leads him to be critical of the work of the media: "For publishers the more images and more clicks, the better". And to hold that "The fashion edition is very poor now because instead of looking for quality and the best, just they put a million photographs of a million people very poorly dressed because they want clicks". Something that, at the very least, is paradoxical because depending on how you look at it, the mere fact of editing the representation of street style could restrict the look that reaches the readers. But this is an endless debate similar to the one that exists around the fact of editing or not the interviews in journalism. Let's talk about photography of street style.

This is how the photography of street style

He went there for him 1800 when for the first time in history someone had the idea of ​​photographing well dressed people. The street styleLike many of the most curious things in this life, it was born by chance driven by the fondness that Edward Linley Sambourne had to capture elegant women in the streets of London without them knowing. Perspective more voyeur This type of photography emerged with the pastime of this professional cartoonist, although he failed to take root or go further. Until Bill Cunningham. Well, if we get exquisite we can point out some picture of street style between one and the other, but it is undeniable that It was with Bill and his fashion documentation on the streets of New York City that he began to develop once and for all.

But since 60 in which Cunningham received his first camera until today things have changed. And the photography blog created by a father who enjoyed taking pictures of his young children (Scott Schuman) has played an important role in this change. Street fashion photography has gone through many phases. The two great geniuses associated with her have had different visions. And now experts talk about a turning point that has deviated towards parody.

Bill Cunningham: a career in fashion

How can you read in the book published by Editorial Superflua, as a young Cunningham wanted to be a fashion designer and succeeded as a hatter. He started a brand from scratch and in July 1949 he presented his first collection to the press. Already at that time he led the austere life that he recounted in 2010 in the documentary Bill Cunningham New York and he was completely dedicated to his work.

"Bill era was as eccentric as the people he photographed" Scott Schuman confessed when we asked about him. "It has now been discovered that he had more than one million dollars in the bank. He didn't have to live that way."

Bill Cunningham for the NY Times, 2005

Obsessed with fashion from an early age, Cunningham always lived parallel to her. And he always had clear ideas. One has only to see the boldness he shows in the book when he describes Christian Dior as stagnant or cowardly to the way women dress in high society.

Still, and as Scott Schuman himself clarifies, "Bill took his job very seriously and people forget that kind of thing. They see him as that old fool, but he knew what he was doing.". But nothing to see. Schuman remembers perfectly how after the documentary came out, many people approached him and that was very frustrating for him "I was trying to work and people kept interrupting him. I saw many people walk away because I didn't want to talk to them".

His unmistakable French worker blue jacket uniform, white shirt and pants beige and his bicycle accompanied him for decades while photographing the urban style for his work in the Chicago Tribune, the Women's Wear Daily and later, in the New York Times. Although I always eat freelanceWell, as he points out in the book "A career in fashion", he never wanted to be on staff because he wanted to be free.

o Bill Cunningham for the NY Times, 2009

He admired fashion in all its variants and among his photos are influencers, models and anyone who inspired him. But if he photographed you, you were automatically part of an important group of society. “We all dress for Bill” Anna Wintour said in the documentary about him.

His was immediacy. I photographed with a reel camera and without a too polished technique, always complete drawings, but he had the ability to discover what he was going to take. Schuman tells us that Cunningham loved shoes and that was the reason for his complete plans.

Bill Cunningham for the NY Times, 2015

"Bill never really stopped people to take portraits" Scott Schuman tells us when we ask about him. And he's absolutely right, he captured moments, his job was pure improvisation. But despite this lack of photographic technique, his work is the largest cultural anthropological study of existing clothing. And Scott reminds us "It had a catalog of images so wide that it perfectly showed the evolution of NY and Paris style." What Schuman is clear about was his great contribution to the world and a great influence for himself. "He photographed for 50 years. He arrived at 80 and kept taking photos. It's hard to stay motivated and keep seeing in a fresh and open way to change anything you do for so long.".

The appearance of Scott Schuman: the photograph of street style 3.0.

Schuman's appearance added a new point of view. The Photography it was no longer casual, it was more rigid, Hostal. And this new kind of street style He lived with Cunningham for many years."The first time was not easy. The first two or three people I stopped said no but then I discovered how to approach people.", remember Scott.

Even so, both had an important point in common as Schuman says. They decided who to photograph. And both made people get frustrated when they were not photographed. "I know what I like and what I don't like. I don't have to photograph everything and I don't photograph all influencers or celebrities. But I think they respect what I do." the photographer says.

And the two have done a magnificent job when it comes to portraying the change that has been going through fashion over time in the streets. In the case of Schuman, even from India (country where he has based his latest book) or men's fashion (what he is working on now). "Every time the fashion is more sporty and I think that all those things that we have been using during the last 100 years will evolve to this type of clothing".

Schuman is clear that his photos are very different from Bill's both in the style of shooting and in the type of people you photograph "He preferred really eccentric characters and I usually choose more subtle looks" and consider that that helped his blog grow rapidly. Internet had a lot to do with its rapid increase in cache, of that we are sure.

The secret of his technique? The teacher sums it up in one sentence. "I don't look for fashion when I'm taking photos and I don't like to say that a person is fashionable or not. I appreciate the people who communicate their style. "

Unlike Bill, many of Scott's shots are first blueprints or details. "Maybe I just like hair or jewelry. I try to communicate what I like about something.". Fruit of his greater coexistence with the phenomenon influencer, this has developed a different smell when selecting to the "victims of their objective."

Cunningham said he was able to differentiate women dressed in clothes borrowed in his memoirs and Schuman says know how to identify those who only look for the photo."Usually, people who want to be photographed dress too exaggerated", says the New Yorker. And although he doesn't care that people wear clothes borrowed in his photographs "In 100 years, you won't know who that person is, so you don't know if it's his true style" but is aware of the problem "People who borrow clothes look like they are beautiful people with beautiful clothes, but I don't know if they are interesting stylistically speaking. It's the designer who is putting the stamp on them so they look good, and they just don't have that special something that they have. people with real style. "

Therefore, natural evolution has led him to photograph in a different way "People now dress to be seen, but they just don't know by whom". We had already circled before the theory that today Women are no longer looking to wear clothes to look elegant but decide their looks thinking of his followers and Scott's approach goes along this line.

"I photograph differently during Fashion Week ", clarifies us during the conversation. What makes us think automatically of the statements of his partner Garance Doré: "What we call street style is not really street style, it is Fashion Week style."

The uncertain future of street style

Maybe street style photography evolve towards a more authentic and raw representation of life that avoids snapshots, perfectly lit That made Scott famous. A new type of self-expression, fashion and less polished style like the one we see in Schuman's latest works and opens up to a more sincere approach.

Schuman ended his conversation with me while maintaining an optimistic view: "Fashion is cyclical. Now we are at the bottom of the cycle but in a couple of years I hope we have a new energy, a new vision and that will be the fashion of the future.". And this is the idea that goes through my head. This is the renewal that photography needs street style, in which Schuman is working and the one we hope to see in his next book on India (whose presentation in Madrid has invited us). The authentic urban style still exists, only it is harder to find it.

A career in fashion: 5 (Fashion and memory)

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Video: Scott Schuman at TEDxDePaulU (January 2020).