Photographing everyday Street Style – Documenting street fashion

style points

Style Points is a weekly column on how fashion intersects with the rest of the world.

At some point, in the late spring of 2020, Johnny Cirillo began to notice that everything had become transparent.

He had suddenly not developed X-ray vision, but his street photography subjects overwhelmingly began to opt for transparent gazes, even if they covered their faces with masks. The thought process, he rationalizes, was, “I’ve always wanted to do it, but I’m a little nervous. Now there is some hidden identity here, I think I can get away with it. ”

Cirillo is part of a new cohort of Instagram-famous street-style photographers who combine traditional fashion photography with the street documentary traditions of people like Garry Winogrand and Vivian Maier, serving up bits and pieces of everyday life. He imagines a mashup of Humans of New York and The Sartorialist and you will be close. Although they shoot the traditional street style of fashion week variety, most of their oeuvre isn’t about glamorous performance venues, but about everyday life in Brooklyn, downtown Manhattan or, in the case of photographer Daisy. Davidson, in London areas such as Camden and Portobello Road.

Cirillo decided to start taking street-style photos the day after Bill Cunningham’s death, inspired by the photographer’s populist approach. “It was just one of those things you do because maybe it’ll make you feel something,” he says. He headed to Spring Street and started taking pictures in front of the Mercer Hotel. “I went out for the day and did what I thought I would do, just to honor it. And he fell into this ”. This being an Instagram account, Watching New York, which now boasts nearly 700,000 followers, and an accompanying TikTok account that provides more background on the process and features interviews with the people it photographs. (A frequent subject named Darnell recently summed up a look that included a balaclava, scarf, and tiny sunglasses by saying “I give you the first season, on a tight budget. Keeping up with the Kardashians. “)

a woman wearing a purple coat, camouflage pants and a mask

An image of Johnny Cirillo of Watching New York.

Johnny Cirillo

The project offered Cirillo a window into the moods and customs of a city that changes as it passes through the various phases of the pandemic. He distinctly remembers the moment the suits came off and the lewk come back. “I feel like everyone is just blowing themselves away, saying, ‘Okay, let’s go out and go big. Then the colors exploded on the scene. Highlighter yellow, pink, blue, electric. On the freezing winter day we talk about, he says of his latest photo shoot: “It was just a catwalk out there. It was fun. ”

Rather than portraying the carefully curated (and at this point, often brand-mediated) personal style of professional influencers, he likes to introduce ordinary people who often save what they wear and mix it up creatively. “It’s not their job to do this,” she says. “They are only doing it because it makes them happy.”

An ocean away, Davidson is shooting his candid portraits of Londoners on his @hystericsnaps account, drawing inspiration from the colorful looks seen in Japanese magazines such as Fruit And STREET. There is also an archival and anthropological impulse at work there. “I want to document this trend,” she says, “so that people can look back on it.” Midway through the pandemic, she saw an explosion of like-minded groups linked by their participation in fashion subcultures. They met online and decided to meet in person, all dressed in their most outrageous looks. Despite her digital origins, it was a return to IRL culture that reminded her of MySpace fifteen years ago, almost as if the challenges of the lockdown had led to a flourishing of in-person interactions and a re-examination of the style trends of the recent past, which was it emo or indie sleaze.

three young women in flounced dresses and sneakers

Photographer Daisy Davidson documents the subcultures of London’s street style.

Daisy Davidson

I stumbled upon the @ nyc-looks account before realizing that its owner, Liisa Jokinen, had photographed me over a decade ago at Reykjavik Fashion Week for her blog Hel-Looks. When Jokinen and I reconnected on the phone, she explained that she had moved from Finland to the United States, first San Francisco, then New York, in the meantime, and had documented the fashion of both cities for her for her. “I think it’s a surprise what I’m looking for,” she says. “A combination, an outfit, the colors. Items of clothing combined together in a way I’ve never seen before. I don’t really care if he’s a celebrity or an influencer. If they are, I don’t mind, but it’s definitely not something I’m actively looking for. ”

“When you go to fashion week, it’s like shooting a fish in a barrel.” – Johnny Cirillo

When he started photographing trendy people in Helsinki in 2005, he says: “I knew what their background was [was], the environment in which they bought their clothes and most of the influences they had. “At that time, e-commerce was not yet the behemoth it is now, and the city only had a limited number of shops , so secondhand ruled the streets. Then when H&M hit the market, they could see an immediate effect on how people dressed. Think of these photos as a historical document. “I feel it’s extremely important to do that documentation work consistently, because it’s such a big and important part of our visual culture and everyday life, “he says.” The further I go, the more important, meaningful and valuable my photos will be. Yep, looking back at those 2005 photos … I “Like, ‘Some of those looks are still relevant now.’ ”

an older white woman in a fuchsia jacket and patterned jumpsuit

One of Liisa Jokinen’s street-style subjects.

Lisa Jokinen

His work also served as a way to build relationships. “I love getting to know the people I photograph, especially the people I photographed in Helsinki. Now they’re my friends, “he says.” I’m super grateful for that. “At his new base in New York, he says,” People dress up more for the eyes of others. To attract attention or make certain impressions. I love it, because it means that people really make an effort … In New York everything is fine, and it’s super stimulating. While in Finland people dress more for themselves. ”

Although their styles and subjects may differ, all three photographers are drawn to the thrill of the chase. “When you go to Fashion Week,” says Cirillo, “it’s like shooting a fish in a barrel. All the big fish are there and they want you to take pictures and strut up and down the street for you. So there’s something exciting about that, but it’s also like – your favorite thing in the world, whatever it is, if you had an infinite amount of it, maybe it wouldn’t be your favorite thing in the world anymore.

Adds Davidson: “If you see someone and you feel like they have a spark in them, they have a passion for what they are wearing and you can feel that they are enjoying what they are wearing – this is what I like to document. Don’t feel like they have to wear it. for the sake of being a what. They are just happy in this.

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