Sunday, August 23, 2009

Q&A with Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist

[Originally published at l'etoile magazine online]

[Scott Schuman]

In anticipation of the l’étoile-sponsored book release party atMagers & Quinn for The Sartorialist, named for the street fashion photography website, l'étoile fashion editor Jahna Peloquin chatted up Sartorialist creator and photographer Scott Schuman on releasing his first book, his inspiration as a photographer, shooting at Fashion Week, and his favorite Twin Cities shops.

How did the idea to release a book come about?

I’ve been approached by several different publishers but there was nothing that seemed right. Then when I met with Penguin, and they were willing to do a paperback and a hardcover at the same time. I like something that’s very well-crafted but also something that a lot of people can relate to and isn’t so expensive. And they don’t usually do books like that. They felt so strongly about it that they were willing to put more resources behind it, and willing to put more on the line versus typical photo book companies.

How did you narrow down your three years of photographs into one book? What types of looks did you try to include?

When I started pulling images it’s figuring out which images were good stand-alone images. And then we worked back and compared and contrasted and looked at similarities and differences - putting side-by-side images that were taking two years apart and seeing how they look together in a spread. We ended up with about 600 images total.

What are your inspirations as a photographer? Were there any photographers you modeled your style after?

Stylistically it’s a cross between Bruce Weber in the sense that he shoots outdoor and in direct light. Paolo Roversi, who shoots in the studio and has a style that’s a bit more painterly. From him I get a sense of quietness around the people. And there’s Steve McCurry, who shoots for
National Geographic. I’m inspired by how he shoots so many different people with the same level of integrity.

What’s your favorite part about your work?

I was in fashion for 15 years, I grew up loving fashion, and I think it’s something I will always have in my life. I love always going out and having a chance to react to things that surprise me and the challenge of trying to capture it photographically the way I see it. I never know who I’m going to see when, so I’m always trying to make fast decisions. Another part is how we’ve been able to create a great community of people through the blog and people have really picked up how we handle things in a respectful manner. We’re one of those unique entities in fashion, in that it’s good, it’s human – it isn’t catty or putting people down. It’s much more positive human interaction.

Are you shooting at Fashion Week again this fall? Are there any particular shows that have a particularly well-dressed audience?

A lot of people are at the same shows. Marc Jacobs has a great space, and he can get more people and more of a variety of people. Dries Van Noten also brings in an eclectic crowd.

You’ve shot at Fashion Week for, have a monthly style page in GQ, shot a campaign for DKNY, and you just released your first book. What’s next? What other projects are you working on?

I’ve been shooting a lot more straight-up fashion editorial, which ends up being photographs that still use the angles I like, the kind of lighting I like, the kinds of locations and how I place the subjects in the location, only it’s with a model with a more dramatic feel. It looks like a photograph I would take. I just shot ten pages for Italian
Elle, and ten to 12 pages for Italian Vogue Pelle (the leather/accessories version of the magazine). What you’re going to end up seeing is what I shoot on the street. The blog is really the core of what I’ll always do - I love that lifestyle. But I think you’ll start to see other kinds of shoots from me.

I know you make it into the Twin Cities on occasion. Do you have any favorite places to shop while you’re in town?

Definitely. I try to make it into Intoto and Grethen House when I’m there.

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