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Fashion Week Special: Behind the scenes with a top street style photographer
It probably started around 50 years ago with Bill Cunningham strolling through the streets of New York, snapping shots of eclectic hippies on Saturday afternoons in SoHo and stylish elite in the Upper East Side for his On the Street column in the
New York Times. Today,
street style photographers are stars in their own right—think of Tommy Ton, Scott Schuman and Garance Doré.
To find out what looks attract a bevy of stylish-minded shutterbugs (other than the street style photographer darling, Anna Dello Russo), we chatted with Nicole Comeau,
ELLE Canada’s street style photographer, who will be parked outside the tents throughout fashion weeks across the globe this season. Comeau told us her fave city for street style, what she looks for in a shot, and the biggest misconceptions about her work.
Haute perks: “The most exciting part of my job is that I get to travel to the most stylish cities in the world, such as New York, London, Milan and Paris. I see some of the most style-conscious women and the most coveted, stylish celebrities in the fashion world.”
Most stylish streets: “My favorite fashion week city is Paris as it is where I get some of my best of the best street style looks. The fashionistas really step it up when they get to Paris. I think because it is the capital of couture and fashion; the way some of these international trendsetters pull it together during Paris fashion Week has resulted in some of my best shots.”
Catwalk eye: “I love fashion first and foremost. Not all street style photogs have a passion for fashion. I read a lot and shop a lot in the best cities. I am around fashion all year round and also do catwalk photography. I get to see the latest trends before they are published on websites and in magazines. I have developed an internal radar for what I think will be some of the season’s hottest trends to be picked up by magazines. I look for girls who are fashion forward, have that keen sense of style and can pull a look together in a unique way. It can be with accessories or just the way they are able to mix different styles and trends and make it work.”
Fashion lessons: “Often these street styles end up eventually on the catwalk. I think the street style looks have a huge influence on the catwalk and the public in general. I myself continuously pick up styles and ways to pull an outfit together that I add to my wardrobe. Street style is like a moving magazine that continuously reinvents it self.”
Conscious shutterbug: “The biggest misconception about my work is that street style photogs are perceived by some as paparazzi and that it’s an easy job to do. Street style requires a lot of research, knowledge about industry insider, knowing who all the fashionistas are—the designers, trends, who is up and coming. In addition to the knowledge of the industry, one needs to know how to write, a lot of energy to run around from show to show nonstop for at least six weeks, two to three times a year. It actually is like a real workout to run around and carry all the heavy photography equipment! As for the paparazzi misconception, I never take a shot of someone if they are not willing or don’t want to be photographed.”
Fashion Week special: How to get shot by a street style photographer
For more of an up close and personal portrait of a street style photographer during fashion week, read on to the next page…
Missed target: “It does happen where I just can’t get some of the shots I am looking for, especially during the months of February when it’s cold and everybody is running for cover. There is always another day or another
fashion week. It often takes a lot of patience to get that perfect shot. That’s what differentiates a good street style photographer from another.”
Flat out truth: “I always kind of worry about what I wear when I take pictures of the most international style set. Although I am not wearing the latest
catwalk trends like they are, I try to make sure I look polished and presentable. I have found that the subjects react more positively and are friendlier when I dress up vs. dress down. After all, we are in the business of fashion! What I can’t do is wear heels while running around…early on I tried it and that was a disaster. I
stick to flats and change into heels if I need to meet someone for an interview or I attend a show as press.”
Photographic inspiration: “My street style photographer icons are of course Canadian-born Tommy Ton, Garance Doré and Scott Schuman.”
Iconic woman: “In my opinion, Giovanna Battaglia (contributing editor of
W Magazine) is probably the most stylish woman on the catwalk circuit these days. She has a unique and true sense of style. I absolutely love every outfit she wears and would love to own her wardrobe. She has a keen sense for
mixing textures, colours and styles. She has an eye for details like no one in the industry and is the most sophisticated dresser I have come across in the last couple years. I am a huge fan!”
Nicole Comeau is a fashion photographer and blogger for her site, www.theionfashion.com.