It’s often said that style is simply about being yourself. It’s probably this that the New York-based blogger Scott Schuman wanted to showcase when he decided to launch The Sartorialist in 2005, a photo blog that effectively showcases street fashion. In nine years, the photo blog — which started at a time when blogs depicting street style were still a rarity — has not only earned a mammoth following of the fashion flock, but has also opened a medium of style coverage that is more real in its approach. On his recent visit to the city for a talk organised by Elle India, he reveals what prompted his foray into street style photography, his plans for the blog’s 10th anniversary, and more.
1 How’s your trip to India been?
India is really beautiful, and I’m getting to see a lot of places. I started with Delhi, then Jaipur, and now Mumbai. I was supposed to leave for Udaipur and then Benares immediately, but I guess I am going to change my plan and stay longer in Mumbai.
2 Coming to your blog, what prompted you to start it?
It was just something I wanted to do for fun. I didn’t know that it’ll become a big thing. I didn’t have a business plan in mind. And because there was no pressure, I knew I could have fun with it and do what I wanted to do. I guess that’s why it felt fresh and different, and took off.
3 Did you face any initial roadblocks or get into trouble while shooting strangers on streets?
I never got into trouble in that regard, but I faced some roadblocks in the sense that I was doing this for the first time. Initially, it wasn’t easy getting people to see the beauty of the work I do. It required a lot of talking. When I went to a fashion week for the first time, I had to make people understand what a blog is. So, I went through all of that.
4 Why do you think street style photography has become a big thing now?
It clicked because people want to see style by real people. Earlier, for anything on fashion, people depended on fashion magazines and model images. Street style blogs really help because they add reality to fashion. They don’t have models, they have real people. Also, now, it’s become so much more diverse. There are blogs in different countries that showcase what the fashion is like in a particular city or town.
5 But, don’t you feel that this has led to the problem of plenty with several blogs looking like clones of one another?
This situation is like coffee. There are several coffee stores, but there’s only one that is really famous. There might be a lot of imitators, but that doesn’t affect me. I really like going out and taking pictures. And people still like them.
6 Where do you think street style photography will be, say, in five years from now?
It’ll be the same. It doesn’t need to evolve. The only thing it needs is to continue to find new ways to shoot and capture reality. Street style doesn’t have to change, but it’s the edit that has to change. I have started shooting more interior and travel stuff now. So, I feel that’s what makes my photographs different — the mix of photographs.
7 What do you see in a person when you decide to click him or her?
It’s always different from person to person. It’s the people, their gestures, the colours they are wearing, etc. I don’t try to intellectualise it. I just react instinctively.
8 Which city is the most stylish, according to you?
I love Milan and Florence. In fact, I like all of Italy.
9 Has the street style of any city surprised you?
I’m very curious about Mumbai. I saw some potential here.
10 Do you have any expansion plans for your blog?
Not really. I just want to continue posting variety. Also, I’m doing a lot more on Instagram. This has really changed things in the sense that I’m shooting a lot more with my phone, and sharing things instantly.
11 What else is on your plate for the coming year?
My next book, after The Sartorialist and The Sartorialist: Closer, comes out next year. It’s a big thing for me because next year will be the 10th anniversary of my blog. The book will be like my first two books with images from the past three-four years, but this one will be a lot more diverse in terms of the places I’ve shot in. Also, it’ll have around 50% of cultural shots and 50% fashion shots.