#throwbackthursday: ‘doing’ street style in the States

As the first year’s #throwbackthursday post, I decided to combine travel with fashion and style, which are key to this blog. Here are some recollections of ‘doing’ street style from 2013 up to last year, and I do hope to continue bringing you more ideas in this sector in 2016 too!

Back in 2013 when Style in Transit was a fledgling blog, I had already decided that I wanted to include some street style from my travels in far-flung destinations. The challenge at that time was two-fold. I decided to start looking for street style in one of the most fashion-forward cities, Tokyo. As you can imagine, language was going to be an issue, and it was rather tricky to convince people to have their photo taken of what they were wearing, in a language they barely understood. The next challenge was plucking the courage to approach them without coming across as some moron. All went well and I took my first photos. The following summer I soldiered on and facing the language barrier once more, I tried my hand at gathering material in Bangkok, Thailand, in what I found out later was quite an innovative outlet, Siam Square (read an earlier post here).

New York - Columbia

After the Far East and South East Asia (read about it here), it was time to tread into more familiar territory. Enter the States in summer 2015. By this time, I had mustered enough nerve to photograph people’s outfits. The language barrier was a problem no longer and people were very approachable. I chose New York and Boston on the East Coast, and San Francisco and Los Angeles on the West. I focused my attention on individuality and personality exuded through their attire, rather than on the necessity of being clad in the latest trends. There were a couple of them who did seem to go the extra mile; while chatting with them, they admitted that they sometimes dress in certain ways to get noticed. Imagine my pleasure in that.

Cambridge town, Boston (and Harvard)   San Francisco

Whether it was New York or Los Angeles, the people I approached all had a story to tell, so a positive outcome of this endeavour was sharing life experiences, and doing what many recommend whilst traveling: mingling with the locals or settlers in the cities. In a sense, taking street style photos has become an entry point to this meaningful and rewarding experience. All of the cities yielded an eclectic mix of styles and time was flexible; the people who kindly obliged to have their photos taken willingly gave up 15 minutes of their time. Indeed, we had a good chat and some laughs during the ‘photoshoot’. From an exercise fraught with dread over intruding upon someone’s personal space, it has now evolved into an enjoyable and enriching activity. (N.B. part of this text appeared in the December ’15 edition of pavlistyle magazine – you can read the piece and the street style stories here).

Los Angeles (Rodeo Drive and Venice Beach)

Tips on ‘doing’ street style

Here are some suggestions if you are a fellow blogger or photographer and would like to try your hand at street style.

  1. If you introduce yourself as a blogger/photographer, you have to look the part. I admit this may be tricky, as packing some striking outfits instead of more functional ones when you’re touring a place is not always possible (especially in the heat); looking fresh and well-groomed is a good start. Additionally, you have to market yourself by explaining what you do and why you do it. Accept that some will not want to have their photos taken but do not be disheartened.
  2. When approaching someone, ask if they’re in a hurry. Having your camera slung across helps (though it would not be recommended in some unsafe-looking areas) and, accompanied by the ‘blogger’ outfit means you’re not a lost tourist asking for directions. A professional camera means you’re serious about your blog, as does the business card. Pack these before you travel and always carry them with you. You never know when you’re going to come across someone wearing something eye-catching.
  3. Factor some time in your travelling schedule so it doesn’t have to be stressful. If you’re travelling with someone else, ensure that they have something to do while you’re engaged. There would not be enough time if you’re only traveling for 4 days or a week, but sometimes all you need are 10 minutes to take photos.
  4. Choose a few spots where (i) you think there will be lots of people to choose from, and (ii) where people are not particularly rushing off. Parks, squares, and even beach areas are hubs of inspiration. The same applies for central but not too overcrowded areas such as train station exits.
  5. Finally, enjoy it and take the time to chat with the people you encounter. Showing an interest in their life is a perfect icebreaker, and by that time both you and them will have fun taking photos.

In upcoming posts I intend to dedicate street style stories to all the interesting people I met in the States and other places so keep an eye out for new material!

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