The Sartorialist

The Sartorialist is one of the regular blogs I read/look at. To me Scott Schuman’s work is a real celebration of garments, objects, people and how they construct their identities. His work is astonishing. The close ups, people’s faces, the way they fill in, or not, the clothes they are wearing, their nationality, their beliefs through what they choose… And the backgrounds, of course, where they are located, where they happen to be…There is, of course, also some August Sander in his sociological approach.

Schuman started photographing around 2005, when he had left a high powered job in men’s fashions to take care of his daughter. He learned by photographing his children and afterwards, he began to record outfits worn by people on the streets who captured his imagination. Self-taught and self-reliant, just like one of my favourite film directors, Julio Medem.

And then there are the mistakes, the experiments where something happens, like the one above, where, instead of being a still portrait, it is a moving portrait, but in the same vein than vintage Sartorialist. The same elements I outlined above are relevant but with a little of the unexpected, of the more natural, or the unplanned, un-posed.

Look at the image above, though. It is a one-off moment. Where did that blue envelope come from and how come it is of the same shade than the light behind. Isn’t the lady’s dress just perfect. And the smoking hand framed by the red canopy (a red that offsets the blue)? I could look at this images forever, in the same way I can look at Francesca Woodman’s ‘On Being an Angel’, or my image of the shoe.

There is something about the frame, about the composition, about what is in the frame and what isn’t, what we can imagine, what is chosen not to be shown. I think this is what photography can capture/do than no other medium can.