Has Street Style Photography Become A Commodity?

I love street style photography. I remember stumbling onto The Sartorialist a few years ago and being amazed by the amount of individuals going about their day, strolling down Fifth Avenue, hailing down cabs, performing daily, mundane tasks but with incredible personal style.  They existed all over the world. New York. Paris. Milan. Everyone looked vibrant, cool, and most importantly, UNIQUE. That’s the main draw behind street style: seeing a regular person’s take on a trend or disregard for a trend (or trends in general) and how these photos are candid, street corner surprises.

There are also those who have turned street style photography into an art form. Not only does Scott Schumann have an excellent sartorial eye, but his very best photos are sensual, atmospheric, and tell a story. This photo of two women sharing a smoke in the evening is one of my all-time favorites.

That illusion of intimacy made me imagine that the relationship between fashion photographer and minute muse must be quiet and understated. The photographer would ask for a picture, and the individual would agree, striking a pose, before they both parted ways. I had no idea street photography had become a major industry in itself. Sure, there are those committed to shooting anonymous individuals but there’s also a large growing segment who stake out fashion shows with the single purpose of shooting editors, socialites and fashion bloggers who are sponsored to wear certain items. By shifting our attention to the movers and shakers in the fashion world, it renders the foundation of street style, celebration of the everyday non-conformist and that element of spontaneity, irrelevant.

Not to say Anna Della Russo doesn’t have an amazing sense of style though. But it’s alarming to see how the art of street style photography has become such a competitive cut-throat business so quickly and no longer strictly a passion project. It used to be a way to escape from elaborate editorial spreads boasting items that were far too expensive for the public to attain, a more democratic approach to what was deemed fashionable or stylish, but now it’s become  another marketing ploy for big designer companies.

New York Magazine offers an insightful behind-the-scenes look at the mechanics behind street style photography and how it has evolved over the years.

What do you think? Do you think street style photography still maintains rebel status in the fashion industry or has it become overly commodified?

[Cover photo via style rookie]

[Photo via vivadivaglam]

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3 thoughts on “Has Street Style Photography Become A Commodity?

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