The Sartorialist: Documentary on Street Photography

Scott Schuman runs a really popular fashion blog called The Sartorialist, and the whole idea is that he takes timeless looking images of fashionable people in cities around the world. A few days ago we ran a viral story on Vivian Maier who may have been the greatest unknown street photographer of her era. I thought this short documentary on Scott might be interesting to those of you who enjoy taking spontaneous images on your own city streets. It's easy to get wrapped up in gear and fancy lighting with 'modern' photography but ultimately it's your subjects that really makes an image. What better way is there to test your own craft than to take just a camera and lens and hit the streets?

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Hmm... I don't know if that is street photography in a strict sense. The whole idea was to capture a spontaneous(decisive) moment rather than go up to the people and ask for a pose. Whatever. Very cool video clip, and it rings quite true what he talks about.

this is not street photography but rather finding fashion on the street. he's results are wonderful considering these are normal folks and natural light

Thanks for sharing this and the story on Vivian Maier. Although fashion isn't for me the reason I have been following the Sartorialist for years, his style of photography is very creative and in some cases quite inspirational.

Hummmmmm ... sorry @Hubert and @Jun but, he is a street photographer!
He has a camera and he take pictures with it. On the streets.
SO, HE IS a street photographer.
Just think "inside of the box" and follow the unwritten rule or a non speak format that your subjects can't pose for you is the same to say you can't consider a landscape photog just because you bracket in 9 different and uses HDR to put everything together.
It's known that Mr. Bresson when got tired to wait for the "right" moment that he had in his mind for a shot, he asked for the people/person to "follow" his script.
Mr. Schuman, beyond that, has the decorum to stop and ask politely for a picture be taken, and not just put a freak lens in your face and 'steal your soul' without your agreement - like a M.F. freak one that uses to walk between 57th and 59th, corner to 5 Ave, with his Leica.
Or even other that - still without your OK - without you even notice.

thats awesome, its like a public fashion shoot. but everyone is invited. just dress up.

Living in Manhattan, I realized that there was a need for a site like Sartorialist. So many people uniquely dressed that I myself wanted to take photos of them when I was walking around the city. I feel it's a form of street photography, just not in the same category as Vivian, which in my opinion is the true meaning of street photography. Also look up Matt Stuart. He has great work.


Still doesn't seem like street photography to me. But that's just me. I don't get my panties in a bunch over this.

I "steal" people's souls without their permission or their knowledge most of the time.
FYI- I am not that freak, lol.

I like @Luis's categorization better. "Public Photo Shoot"

Either way he documents the people and their fashion. Sounds good to me.

I'd still call this street photography or at least street photojournalism because he's not really dictating the hair, makeup, clothing, or to some degree location. Just because he has someone pose on the street doesn't mean he's taken away the element of street photography to me at least.

I agree that this is street photography. I think the fact, that they didn't grab someone in the moment is to understand the context of what the INTENT of the photographer was trying to achieve.

He wanted to capture what that person was wearing..... and he did it. The exception that people are questioning here, is rather than the subject matter jumping over a puddle or running away from the camera, the photog asked the subject for a pose.

No, the Sartorialist didn't bring a moving wardrobe with him, neither was his intent about what the subject was doing, but how he or she was simply (or fashionably) dress. Okay, that's my take on the matter :)

Anyways, this is small deal and lets not get removed at what Great Great work the Sartorialist is doing!

That was fantastic. I love seeing videos like that.

I agree this IS Street Photography. I would believe most of the other "Great" Street Photographers asked people for permission or to hold a pose for a second from time to time, you just see it clearly here, we just don't have many documentaries of the others working.

What is the name of the street photographer he mentions on minute 4:29?

Thanks a lot

Nour El Refai's picture

I would not bother think if I'd call this Street Photography or not, I think the whole debate is on the percentage of Control the photographer had when he took the shot, and ofcourse it varies from one shot to another, from one situation to another.
@Carlos, I respect that freak who take photos of people in the street without asking for permission, I think he is trying to capture the right moment/expression without having any percentage of control, he just observe, anticipate, and click.
But still, I agree very much with Patrick Hall, in this video the photographer just did alittle control with the pose, he didn't do much control, He is doing great work but again he might not get natural expression from this kind of shooting, he kind of introduced himself to the shot, the people photographed are looking to him or posing to him.
I personally prefer a more natural moment, where the photographer is not felt in the photograph, when he had little to no control over the moment, but I guess this is more difficult and sometimes we might face alot of problems trying to do that.

Very nice video :)I like the way he capture the soul of people and I like his decency..

@everyone Why is there a arguement about is he a "street photgrapher"

We should be talking about is the passion for his work.
Or maybe about his comment @ 2:19 in the video.
How he creates his images. or maybe @ 3:30

So I learned the following
1. Get a shave and a hair cut before going shooting. (i guess every like a well groomed photo guy)
2. When your dress in high fashion its easier to get strangers to allow you to take pictures while a film crew follows you.
3. wearing a black trench coat and scarf with a camera is not scary/creepy to pretty women in NY.
4. BUt this is the real one..... "Take the time to learn your on style and learn touse what you have to create great images"

@Bernardo, I think he mentioned Jacques Henri Lartigue. I don't think it doesn't matter whether or not "street photography" can be used to describe the work of Scott Schuman, because he has the talent of capturing people on the street, in a small time frame, with an emphasis on their fashion sensibility AND making them look good. I'd say that's pretty damn hard =)

Very Inspiring. How did I missed this post before?! Everyone has their way to interpret their talent in so many ways. Their's no wrong way at all. There's a lot to learn in the process in mastering a technique, and there still be more to learn as you try to prefect it. 

True "Fashion Documentation" in real time no matter who's the talent.  

I really enjoyed watching this video.  Thanks FStoppers.

man that was such a GOOD video to watch thank you so much. I love your attitude "falling in love every day" much better than the macho BS I seem to hear everywhere about "killer" shots, and what people can steal from  their subjects...going now to check your blog (even though I am most definitely NOT a fashion person LOL)