Anyone with a camera and a blog may fancy himself a street style photographer but it takes a good eye for detail and style to pick out the fabs from the drabs. Taking place on mostly sidewalks and alleys, these street style photographers are dedicated to their craft and spend hours daily looking for that one stylish stunner. The street-style trend has since went nuclear and given street style’s expansive and increasing influence in the fashion industry, street style photographers are aware that it takes more than just skill and a great eye.
While most debate whether it is more the eye of the photographer or the pictured person’s style that makes the photo special, we are sure of one thing – that the harmony and coherence between the object and the eye behind the lens is what makes the result unique.
Giving truth to the phrase, “It takes one to know one,” these photographers are indeed a stylish bunch themselves. It goes without saying that Stacey Young may potentially be on the other side of the lens herself with her clean, simple and minimalistic style.
ActuallyMAG begins our street style photographer series with Stacey, turning the lens on this talented pint-sized Kiwi girl who is definitely set to take Asian street style photography to greater heights.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a Kiwi girl of Asian descent (full Chinese except I can’t speak a word of it!) and I’ve been traveling and living in Asia for the past 2 years. I love exploring new cities, meeting new people and other than taking photos, my life revolves a lot around food!
How long have you been taking street-style photographs?
I started taking street-style photographs back in July 2011 when I was asked by a Japanese street style site to provide photographs from Singapore and other Asian cities. That’s when I decided to start up my own site Style Sophomore which is a combination of street style, personal style and style inspirations.
What draws you to take a photograph of someone?
I tend to photograph people whose style I can relate to. So whether it’s guys or girls, it’s either something that I feel can influence my own style or it’s a style that I would like to see other people being influenced by. And that doesn’t always mean the whole outfit, but it could be just a component like the shoes, or hairstyle, or the way a particular piece is worn.
Do you have any tricks to get people to relax when shooting them?
I talk to them as I get out my camera, ask what their name is, how their day has been etc just so they can feel a little more at ease because for most people it’s their first time having a complete stranger take their photograph. Then when it comes to taking the photo I just tell them nice and relaxed and sort of suggest how I want them to stand.
What are your favourite places or street corners for spotting and shooting your stylish subjects?
My favourite place without a doubt is Harajuku in Tokyo. Most of our time in Tokyo was spent in Ura-Harajuku (back streets of Harajuku) where I’m always so amazed at how many stylish people there are occupying one single area, whether it’s a Saturday afternoon or a Monday morning. I also like to take the photographs down the little backstreets, as it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the main street and you get much cleaner backgrounds.
You have been to various countries to shoot people on the street, which country has been the most inspiring to you so far and why?
It’s hard to choose just one country as each place has it’s own style and I like each of them for different reasons. Like I love Tokyo because I think the guys in particular dress very well there. While I like Taipei because they are such friendly people who seem very free to express themselves and experiment more with colours. So I draw little bits of inspiration from all the places I shoot in.
How is your street-style blog different from others?
My blog is predominantly street style but I’ve also just started mixing in some of my own personal style and style inspirations. So it’s all original content with photos taken from the street, outfit shots and also photos of things that I like so that may be anything from a piece of architecture to something I see in a shop window, basically anything that can influence my style.
Do you remember the first great photo you took?
I wouldn’t say that this is a “great” photograph as I’m not sure there is such a thing, but it was the first one that I thought I really liked and was the type of street style photograph I wanted to keep taking. I like it because it’s just a girl on the street, a really nice person with a nice and relaxed style, someone that everyone can relate to. And that’s what I want to keep on getting. While I admire sites like The Sartorialist, STREETFSN, and other street style sites that go to all the fashion weeks, I think there’s still something endearing about capturing the real people on the street and that can still be a wonderful photograph to take.
Share with us how you think someone can take a good fashion photo.
If you’re talking about fashion photography, I don’t really do that but for someone wanting to take street style photos, some basic things to think about are 1) try only to photograph people whose style appeals to you, 2) find a background that in some way compliments of contrasts their style in an effective way, and 3) learn how to use natural light to favorably show that style against the background. Those are the basics but actually making it work when you’ve only got a short amount of time and when you’re dealing with someone who was not expecting to have their photo taken, then in reality it can be a big (but fun!) challenge.
What is a wardrobe staple for you?
Definitely my leather boots! I think I could live in them all season long because they’re so comfortable and go with just about everything. I think everyone should own a good pair of leather boots.
If there were something you would consider a timeless trend, what would it be?
Stripes will always be in – you can never have enough stripes and they moved from being a trend to a wardrobe staple a long time ago.
Are there any current projects/exhibitions that you are working on? If yes, what are they?
I’m working on a project for Elle.com in the US to feature Asian street style and also continuing taking photos for a Japanese street style site. I’m also being part of a cool project with Rei Shito that should come to fruition in May of this year.
We understand that you work very closely with your partner, James Bent of La Mode Outré. Share with us about your working partnership as well as how you both influence each other in your work.
We do a lot of travel together but actually, we are both quite individual people and don’t really work that well together! Which is also why we’ve never considered combining our sites. Even though we’re often out shooting in the same place at the same time and looking for similar people, we are both so focused on our own thing that we sometimes find ourselves getting annoyed with each other, like if one becomes a distraction or if I steal one of his photographs or vice versa. Sometimes it becomes an “I saw her first” type of thing!
What are your plans for Style Sophomore in the near future?
My plans are just to keep taking lots and lots of photographs and continue exploring more of East Asia.
- Liyana Meer