It’s safe to say that the man behind the golden lens, Scott Schuman, requires no introduction. The world’s original blogger who planted the likes of Anna Dello Russo and Miroslava Duma firmly on the style map thanks to his legendary blog, The Sartorialist, is the pioneer of street style as we know, love, live and breathe it today.
So when ELLE magazine decided to grace the digerati with his presence for an evening, we flocked from far and wide to soak in his pearls of wisdom and maybe catch a glimpse of his human side, when he wasn’t studying human fashion behaviour through his omnipresent camera.
Humble, grateful and incredibly passionate about what he does, he often referenced his family and the importance of passing on a strict sense of values to his children whilst in conversation with ELLE.
He chatted extensively about his travels round the globe, from his recent trip to Dubai to attend a black-tie event with Vogue Italia, to scouring the streets around Bombay’s Crawford Market for the unlikeliest of subjects, remaining completely unstirred by the sights, sounds and smells of the bustling market life, yet significantly moved by India as a whole.
Through the course of the evening, he opened up about his favourite subject in India thus far – a rickshaw driver who sat waiting for a passenger in such a graceful, non-self-conscious way, that he reminded him of a work of art by Manet. What I wouldn’t give to see the world through his seasoned yet nuanced bespectacled eyes!
Over chilled coffee, lemonade and aperitifs, he told us a little about his new book, ‘Closer’, of which I managed to bag an autographed copy to flip through on my flight to London in a few weeks. However, it was more than just his book and the latest issue of Elle I walked away with that day. It was food for thought, an entirely new look outlook to blogging and a handy trick or two I plan to put into practice effective immediately. Here’s what I learned from Scott:
Posing for photographs
Having shot some of the most beautiful, well-dressed women in the world, Scott knows a thing or two about making great photographs. He stresses on the importance of having your hands look pretty and maintaining great posture when in front of the camera, to look graceful and well put together. Noted.
Styling your outfits
There is no beauty like that of an impeccably put together outfit. Scott gently hinted at the fact that the women in the room still had their work cut out for them in the dressing department, and so he pointed out that one must know themselves first and let their style mature, before broadcasting it to the world. Just because you can throw two pieces together, doesn’t mean you have great style. Take your time, be as inspired as you can be and then take the plunge.
Taking interesting pictures
Never judge your subject. When you look at a person, don’t judge their socio-economic status or whether they fit society’s traditional mould of beauty. Look at each person for exactly who they are and what they can bring to your pictures. A Crawford Market coolie may not be a fashionable person to us traditionally, but Scott sees their print clashing and interesting headgear as something straight out of a Marni show.
Post-production on pictures
Scott believes that taking beautiful photos is only half the job done. The picture only really gains a life of its own once it has been put through basic Photoshop treatments like colour correction, dodge and burn, etc. A lot of bloggers and photographers believe this is cheating, but Scott stands by the fact that it is necessary to make the image ‘pop’. Who are we to argue?
Dealing with nastiness
Bloggers have all faced less-than-polite comments from readers that can sometimes be incredibly hurtful and damaging to one’s self-esteem. Scott moderates all the comments on his blog, and promptly blocks snarky readers and Instagram followers who ruin the overall experience he offers on his site. The goal is simple: to be nice and respectful of one another and the people featured on the site, so everyone can enjoy a positive experience. It really isn’t too much to ask for.
Scott explained that his blog was very different from that of his ex-girlfriend, Garance Dore, who runs her blog as a business and sells her beautiful illustrations on it. For him, The Sartorialist is all about creating works of art that people can love and be inspired by for decades to come. He doesn’t let himself be bullied into brand tie-ups by large brands. Instead, he undertakes a small amount of carefully chosen projects that pay him well (check out his work with luxury eyewear brand, Luxottica in the ‘Faces by The Sartorialist‘ project). His many years of experience in the field have led him to realize that it isn’t the nice hotels, gourmet meals, fancy clothes and free merch that will help him take better pictures. Instead, getting his hands dirty like in this Instragam post is what he loves doing best. He works enough to fund his trips to take more beautiful photographs. And so it goes.
Blogs v/s online media
Scott emphasizes that blogs are very personal. And while it’s okay to partner with brands now and then, too many collaborations means not being able to express yourself completely, as brands would always want you to pitch their products in the best possible light, even though they may not be. Losing your opinion and your voice is when you cease to be a blog, and instead become just another form of media. Although he stresses that this does not necessarily mean a bad thing.
Standing out from the crowd
Scott started out as a man from Indiana with an equal love for fashion and sports. On visiting fashion week, he realized that there was a clear divide between editors and photographers. In his mind, if he dressed like an editor but got behind the lens, he could bridge the gap between both parties. He was daring to do something nobody had tried before, and his blog became one of the most famous ones in history. His tip to aspiring bloggers? Be as different as you can possibly be. Try something nobody ever has. Bring your own, unique brand to the table.
What do you think of Scott’s unique views on blogging? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!