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Friday, 07 January 2011


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Beautiful video. Tremendous insight by the photographer. Thanks for letting us know about this.

The first subject in the film asks the essential question, "What is this for?" Then, she relaxes because she's familiar with the Sartorialist blog and therefore understands the purpose and usage.

I've always loved New York girls..BUT, I've always said, to whomever would listen to me (not many), that if you give a French woman a rag from the alley and some shoe polish..she'll make that ensemble look sexy and feminine in the most distinct way. They just have a touch that you don't see anywhere else...

God bless the French girls...

Mike -

Like you, I have no real knowledge of or interest in fashion. It seems so superfluous to me. But, I was fascinated by the website. I think finding a niche is often the key to success, and I think what Scott Schuman does is, in a sense, brilliant. I never would have thought to do what he is doing, and if I had thought of it, I would have dismissed the idea, thinking that no one would be interested. Of course, I would have been wrong. Then again, If I had done such a site, probably no one would have been interested. Scott went with something he knew and loved and has quite an eye for. I would have been doing the site from a photographer’s perspective. Photography is not the subject. Fashion is.


Nothing is great, sometime.

"Photography is not the subject. Fashion is."

Very true, very true.


If a stranger on the street asks permission to photograph you and that person is well dressed in a quiet way, you are more likely to say yes than if the person is ... scruffy.

Scott Schuman has two seconds to make an impression and gain permission. Dressing well and with some style helps.

"drawing ten times as many viewers as TOP."

Yeah photos of well dressed, attractive women will pull them in.

Nice images on his blog. (I only looked at a few dozen.)
The subjects are obviously posed but not formally posed. Even the people standing there in the currently popular mode with their arms hanging down at their sides look good.
I wonder how many of the images would be even better in B&W?
Thanks for the "heads-up."

Great piece...

BTW anyone with just 4 pairs of black jeans has very definite sense of fashion. I suspect you secretly read Harper's Bazaar under the covers at night just to judge bokeh! ;-)

Cheers Mike

Check out this story. 100,000 never before seen images from the mid 20th century. Street photography at its best.


Perhaps I missed it but I saw no evidence of a Model Release form or him handing over a contact card or anything. I realise that the making of the video probably had an effect on the way he worked although you can see no evidence that he asked for permission to video as well.

I'm just a bit curious as to the consequences of this,

All in all a great insight to the way he works.

It was fashion that brought me to photography.

One thing I like about this guy's work is that he uses one camera, one prime lens, one f-stop and one ISO.

He spends a lot more time looking at his subject than he does messing with the dials. I know a lot of us would do well to learn that lesson.

Speaking as a bit of a blade in the sartorial stakes, I can't condone the ownership, let alone the wearing, of 4 identical pairs of black jeans. Mike, get on a plane, come to Blighty, and you and I will saunter down Saville Row, laugh at the prices, and get you suited up half a mile away. I promise you, you'll be fighting off (French) ladies with a stick.

As for photographing it, nah.

I have now added peregrinate to my vocabulary.
Thank you. I think.

You know, what struck me most, when looking at his photographs, one after another, is, that really, his subject isn't so much fashion, but a cataloging of people. His work, when taken out of the context of "fashion," reminds me, in the best way possible, of August Sander's photographs.

Because, really, aren't both photographers making an extensive collection of different types of people, in a specific place and time?

Had a quick look at his blog.
The phrase "people watching people being
people" comes to mind.

Man, I love that site. I instantly bookmarked it. When I was reporting, I did mostly crime, government, medical and general assignment feature stuff, but I would have loved to have spent a couple of years doing fashion.

And I disagree that the blog is not about photography. Is IS about fashion, but the it's also about photography. There are some wonderful photographs in there, really fine portraits. (And portraits of shoes - the guy likes shoes.) What it's NOT about is cameras, and the whole how-many-pixels, is-the bokeh-good, f2.8-isn't-fast-enough routine. Saying it's not about photography is like saying a painter isn't about painting because he only does landscapes. The guy is a good photographer.

IMHO, fashion tells you more about people (strangers) than almost anything else -- Mike's four-pairs-of-black-jeans IS fashion, it just isn't particularly notable fashion, and not particularly "fashionable." But looking at a guy who dresses that way tells you quite a lot about him...

That said, for twenty years I wore blue jeans and golf shirts. When it got colder, I put on a sweatshirt. Colder than that, a Patagonia jacket. Colder than that, a Patagonia parka. When it started warming up, I'd reverse the process. Like Mike, I'm not interested in clothes, but I think fashion can be fascinating.


"I saw no evidence of a Model Release form or him handing over a contact card"

He doesn't need a model release for that kind of work. In fact he doesn't even really need permission, although I'm sure it helps him get the picture he wants. Apart from just being considerate.


The Sartorialist is a style blog not a fashion blog. Bill Cunningham does street fashion, which is about things like "20 women wearing green plaid coats with orange trim and gladiator sandals, it must be a trend" Often to be stylish is to be deliberately un-fashionable. For instance if you are a guy wearing a cape, you are stylish, not fashionable, especially in Wisconsin. Pole climbers and a Mackinaw Cap might be fashionable in Wisconsin, but in Manhattan they would be stylish.

A hilarious site that pokes fun at the sartorial taste of celebrities is

Mr. Camp,

Patagonia? Cold weather fashion at its best, for those in the know. Not stylish, but with the right pair of jeans, a set of skis, cool shades, and maybe a dog and / or lady by your side, on location in the Swiss Alps, definitely fashionable.

Mike, are you aware of Don McLean's 'Fashion Victim'?

That man (and his words) speak for me.

I thought this very interesting after spending some time on the Sartorialists blog, then, over at Shorpy:


"then, over at Shorpy"

Now those are some stylin' kicks.


(P.S. Zander at 12, six years ago: "Don't say 'kicks,' Daddy. Kicks is what kids say.")

I'm having difficulty finding plain indigo blue jeans. As an Irish Culchie, the old blue jeans are important, as is the pleasure of watching them fade and weather with work over the years. The M8 is a bit like that for me. As a poor student, I'd buy my blue jeans second hand, I'm sure it'll be the same for the M9... My wife would probably like to dress me up, but I think she likes my contrarian self which is neither effete or macho. No smelly stuff please, but loads of work, sweat, and play. A man reassuringly uncomfortable in a suit.

"Photography is not the subject. Fashion is."

Not the subject. So true. A key to his success, I'd say.

Photography and clothing fashion/style are both about communication. The goal of both is to create an image which makes people see what you are saying...

What I found interesting, and somewhat inspiring, was the sheer simplicity of how Scott works: One camera, one lens, no flash, no filters, not even a bag or case. I've done a few photo walks like this and it is liberating not to be loaded down.

This isn't just fashion, it is a typographical work very much int tradition of August Sanders. I like the work very much, very simple, free from the contrivance that exists in a lot of photography today.

I'm with John Camp, what a great site! I bookmarked it instantly and then ended up going through about two years of posts. What fun! It doesn't hurt that the women and men are often beautiful and the clothes gorgeous, but there is some fine photography there. And when I watched the movie I understood what kept catching my attention about the way people carried themselves in the pictures. The photographer seems a very likeable and diffident fellow and it was obvious this made a real difference in the way his unexpected subjects, and for that matter the professionals, interacted with him.

High fashion can be awfully silly, though, can't it?

OK that's enough fashion for six months or so. . . .


I have followed his blog for about two, maybe three years now.
I am not overly fashion concise, but I do enjoy his street work with the flair and color.
Mr. Schuman has developed his photography skills and most notably within the last year.
Fashion, maybe yes, but he does have an eye for capturing people at ease with themselves.
Nice to see him get some cred on a photography site.

I was surprised at how much he directs his shots, getting his models to stand here and there and do this and that...I'd thought that he just came across these people and shot them street style, but it's much more like studio photography, just on the street.

How to tell the difference between Maier and Winogrand: one benefitted from the support of John Szarkowski; the other one used a real camera.

the sartorialist's scope is not as far reaching as august sander's. it's mostly about people who work in the fashion industry and the creative class in general. there are probably a lot of photos of non-fashionistas that never make it onto the blog, though.

ps: the kickass barber is michael w. haar of f.s.c. barber. =)


The video provides me with yet another bit of evidence in support of Dyer-Bennet's Dictum: "All photos are best taken from a camera position that hurts your knees.”

His photos are kind of interesting.

I'm kind of anti-fashion myself (but nowhere near as dedicated as Mike; I own TWO styles of pants, and THREE different colors). It's an interesting theory that our choice is, itself, a fashion (or style) choice. The trouble is, that's simply not something I think about. I pick clothes that are practical and comfortable, and don't think much about how they look.

My old dear's in to fashion. She likes to stand in misty fields to prove it. I was driving by and there she was just staring in to space pondering the fashion universe

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I hope you'll forgive the self-promotion (and the pseudonym), but I have been doing some work in this vein, specifically riffing off "Women Are Beautiful", Bruce Davidson's "Subway", and Joel Meyerowitz's street work.

Women, the city, fashion, and how men look at all three:


Another popular style blog, if not so popular as Sartorialist, is Copenhagen Cycle Chic With normal people on bikes. No lycra or bike gear.

Great stuff. This is the reason I come to your blog every day. Good work Mike.

Regarding your headline photo: the girl is undoubtedly not pregnant. Why could he not have asked her to move her bag to the side or something?
In general, I like his pictures (although the shoe thing is weird).

Also Mike, I have SIX pairs of pants, all khaki cargos from the same vendor; neither stylish NOR fashionable as far as I can tell. But functional as all get out. If it works, stay with it.

To distill the estimable Mr. Crawford's comment above still further:

Style is individual.

Fashion is cultural.

And then to re-expand: A stylish person can establish a fashion, but a fashion can never establish a style. (When the words are used as having different meanings: commonly, saying something is "in style" is the same as saying it is "in fashion.") Wearing something that is not in fashion can be stylish, or it can just indicate that the wearer isn't aware of or doesn't care about the fashion. If you are dressed in fashionable attire, it is meaningless to talk about your style, in much the same way that one cannot talk about the "style" of any given individual in the Army when everybody wears the same uniform. (Military uniforms are the very definition of fashion, if you're in the military.) This has some chinks in it since servicemembers do have some small official latitude (and broader unofficial latitude) as to options regarding what to wear on all but the most formal occasions, so they can still have hints of style, but I think that the basic metaphor is sound.

I am with Mike: most of my jeans (And slacks: I don't wear jeans to work. Ever.) are black, and almost all of my shirts are either black or grey. Some people dismissively refer to my style as "office ninja," but I don't care. I like black and grey. But I do wear it on purpose and not just because that's what someone else buys me or because it's easy to coordinate or whatever. So it's a style. It may or may not be an attractive style, but it's my style.

I also tell models that I dress all in black to minimize reflected light. Sometimes they buy it, sometimes not. But it usually gets a smile.

Another Sartorialist spoof, NSFW title (just don't read it out loud)

Leaving all arguments of style, fashion and substance aside for a moment, I do like this guys approach to his subjects. Direct, polite and inclusive. Turning a rank amateur into a model is no mean feat and I admire him for that, as well as for his dedication and success.

Subject matter? Meh. Not my thing. The body of work and comments on the website leave me yawning and droopy eyed after 30 seconds.

I have however come across more technically superlative work in the fashion business than almost any other. I guess the budgets have a lot to do with it, but whatever. It's a violently tough business and staying on top of it requires flawless technique and 100% immersion in the culture.

Personally however, I find the obsession with outward appearances depressing. It's not a business I would want to dip a toe in let alone immerse myself.

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