Street style photography takes over

August 22, 2011

Text by Justine Woolcott.

Photos by Amoi Murphy, Ming Wu and courtesy of Martini Severin.

In late April, hundreds of people waited in line outside of Hudson’s Bay Company’s flagship store in Toronto. The curious and excited fashionistas were not looking for clothes this time – instead, they were there to see an exhibition of street style photography.

It was the show by Toronto native Tommy Ton, called When Tommy Met Anna – a collection of his street style photos taken of Vogue Japan’s editor-at-large Anna Dello Russo, who is highly regarded in the fashion industry for her avant-garde take on clothing.

Photo by Martini Severin.

With street style photographers such as Ton, who blogs on Jak & Jil, and Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, making their living taking pictures of well-dressed men and women, it’s almost impossible not to wonder why street style has surged in popularity in the past few years.

Despite street style photography’s recent fame, it’s not a new way of expression. In fact, it’s just the medium in which street style is presented to the public that has changed.

Photo by Martini Severin.

When Bill Cunningham, the legendary New York Times in-house street style photographer, started in his trade over 30 years ago, his photos could only reach people when the next paper went to print.

Glamour Magazine brought photos of this kind to the masses with its infamous Glamour Don’ts section. To date, Glamour’s team still photographs the most unfashionable people on the streets, and then puts a black line through their eyes, to hide their identity, before printing the photos of shame.

However, Martini Severin, the blogger behind, says that now the medium is everything.

“Because of technology, we’re able to share photos instantaneously,” she says. “The walls have just come down and people are drawing inspiration from everywhere because it is possible.”

Photo by Martini Severin.

But the current fashion trend dictates that it’s not just the wealthy and stylish, or the horribly mismatched, streeters who have their pictures being taken.

Blogs have popped up in virtually every city, with a name that is usually a variation of (insert city name) Street Style.

Anyone is able to access street style blogs or photos, and it’s this ease of use that Severin says contributes to the continual popularity of street style.

“I think the simple fact that street style photography is real and ego-boosting makes it so popular,” says Christine Achampong, public relations director of Ottawa Fashion Week.

According to Jenelle Wookey, editor of, street photography has become popular because of the stories that it communicates.

“The people in the photos actually chose to wear what they’re wearing. So we get a glimpse into who they are,” she explains.

She adds that this kind of photography has changed how fashion is viewed within Canada.

“It levels the playing field in the Canadian fashion scene and shows that, although there might be more fashionable people in Toronto, a person from Moose Jaw can be just as fashionable as a person from Toronto,” concludes Achampong.

Photo gallery

Photos by Amoi Murphy, Ming Wu and courtesy of Martini Severin.

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