ROAD TO FASH­ION

Street-style pho­tog­ra­phers in In­dia feel there’s a re­newed fo­cus on their art, though their jour­ney is not de­void of chal­lenges

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - LIFESTYLE - Ruchika Kher ruchika.kher@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The best fash­ion show is def­i­nitely on the street. Al­ways has been, and al­ways will be,” the god­fa­ther of street-style pho­tog­ra­phy Bill Cunningham had once re­marked. The 87-year-old vet­eran breathed his last on June 25. He not only left be­hind his work, but also a legacy for those who con­sider or­di­nary peo­ple as their muses. He in­spired hun­dreds to find fash­ion in the most un­likely places, away from the ramp.

Even closer home, his in­flu­ence has been ex­ten­sive. “I re­li­giously fol­lowed Bill Cunningham’s col­umn on street style in The New York Times. That’s what in­spired me to give street-style pho­tog­ra­phy a try. After do­ing it for three years, I fi­nally got my big break this year. I did a street-style photo story for a lux­ury mag­a­zine. I also got an op­por­tu­nity to doc­u­ment the street fash­ion of In­dia for a mag­a­zine in Lon­don,” says Abhimanyu Singh Rathore, who runs a street-style blog.

GRAD­UAL GROWTH

In­ter­na­tion­ally, street-style pho­tog­ra­phy, which in­cludes doc­u­ment­ing trends sported by or­di­nary peo­ple on the street, has many tak­ers. Amer­i­can blog­ger Scott Schu­man’s blog, The Sar­to­ri­al­ist, and Cana­dian pho­tog­ra­pher Tommy Ton’s blog, Jak&Jil, have many hooked. French-Amer­i­can fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher David Luraschi’s sig­na­ture ‘peep style’ in­cludes cap­tur­ing peo­ple from be­hind.

Over the years, street-style pho­tog­ra­phy has picked up in In­dia too. To­day, you can find am­ple trend­set­ters get­ting clicked by pho­tog­ra­phers out­side fash­ion week venues. “I had al­ways been into can­did por­trait and street-style pho­tog­ra­phy, and there was a gap in the In­dian mar­ket for this kind of work,” says Samir Rana of Style­spy.in, who now feels that there is a shake-up in this area.

Manou of Wear­about, one of the most pop­u­lar street-style blogs in In­dia, echoes a sim­i­lar stance. He says the doc­u­men­ta­tion of street-style has evolved in In­dia over the years, but there’s still a long way to go. “It had def­i­nitely evolved, but not in the ways I would have liked it to. Hav­ing orig­i­nal con­tent, which in­cludes the sub­ject one chooses to pho­to­graph, main­tain­ing the unique­ness of the style of pho­tog­ra­phy and be­ing con­sis­tent are all key fac­tors. A lot of peo­ple go un­no­ticed be­cause they take sim­i­lar pho­tos in a sim­i­lar style. They also do it not out of real in­ter­est, but ei­ther be­cause they are hired to do so by mag­a­zines or brands, or be­cause they think it is the ‘in thing’ to do,” says Manou. He started tak­ing pho­tos on the streets sev­eral years ago, when he was liv­ing in McLeodganj, Hi­machal Pradesh. He was also in­spired by the Ja­panese street fash­ion book, FRUiTS, by Shoichi Aoki.

IN­SPI­RA­TION NEEDED

While Mi­lan, Lon­don and New York (USA) are con­sid­ered the hubs of fash­ion, and these cities are full of in­spi­ra­tion, Rana feels In­dia is still not there, which, at times, can be­come a re­stric­tion for the pho­tog­ra­phers here. “The av­er­age per­son on the street in In­dia is still not as well-dressed as com­pared to those in other cities around the world. But with global brands mak­ing in­ter­na­tional styles more ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able in In­dia, this is slowly chang­ing,” he says.

The chal­lenges don’t stop there. Ask­ing strangers to pose on the road isn’t a cake­walk ei­ther. Rathore says street-style pho­tog­ra­phy can be risky at times, as peo­ple get con­scious if some­one cap­tures them with­out their con­sent. “There are times when peo­ple get fu­ri­ous if I pho­to­graph them. Some have also abused me for the same,” he says, adding that the best so­lu­tion in such a sit­u­a­tion is to delete the pic­ture right away. “A pho­tog­ra­pher should con­fess that he/she has taken a pic­ture, and can delete it if they want. Do­ing street-style pho­tog­ra­phy is no less than an ad­ven­ture,” he says. ■

A pic­ture of late Bill Cunningham, as he pho­to­graphs a woman out­side a char­ity event

A pic­ture clicked by Scott Schu­man for his blog, The Sar­to­ri­al­ist

A pho­to­graph by Abhimanyu Singh Rathore

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