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How the Sartorialist makes street style click

Scott Schuman, better known as the Sartorialist, captures examples of street style around the world to post on his popular blog. He’s not documenting not fashion trends exactly, but something more individual and personal. Jeffrey Brown talked to the photographer, author of the upcoming "The Sartorialist: X," during New York Fashion Week.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Finally tonight: an eye for fashion in the everyday.

    Jeffrey Brown has our look.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    A casually stylish woman on a SoHo, New York, street, and Scott Schuman was there to grab the shot. It was one of many photographs he would take this day, examples of street style that Schuman captures around the world, not fashion trends or brands exactly, but something more individual and personal.

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN, Creator, The Sartorialist Blog:

    I bet if you stand right on the edge a little bit, turn rights towards me.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Something Schuman saw, for example, in this blue-haired young man.

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    I think this was the thing that first caught my eye was this. Color is one thing, but there was actually a lot of nice little texture in the shirt, the hair, and, you know, there was something sweet.

    At the end of the day, there was just something sweet about him. There was something that you thought you could capture. I mean, look, the quality of the expression on his face.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Later, a photograph of the young man showed up on The Sartorialist, the blog Schuman launched 10 years ago. It’s become a go-to, must-see site for millions around the world, both in and out of the fashion industry.

    Schumann, now 47, didn’t pick up a camera in a serious way until he was a 31-year-old stay-at-home dad taking photos of his kids at the park. He’d worked in the fashion industry for many years. It was an interest that started early, as a teenager in the suburbs of Indianapolis.

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    There was an Armani ad of a guy in a suit, and I thought, my dad doesn’t look like that in a suit. When my dad puts on a suit on, he looks very stiff and very serious and this and that. I mean, this guy looks totally relaxed, and he looks like he could just go jump on the back of a motorcycle in a his suit.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The Armani ad did it for you, huh?

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    It totally did. It totally opened my eyes in a way that I just thought I didn’t know people lived this way. And so in that same kind of romantic way that I fell in love with fashion when I was 15 is still the way that I like to shoot.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The clothes telling you something about who they might be, and clothes as sort of an identity?

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    Kind of, you know, like a costume. I think, the more I do it, the more I realize that, to, me it’s also more like a costume, like how a director would have costumes in a movie, and how the clothes kind of — because I never assume that that’s who they really are, right, or that they can really tell you anything about that person.

    But it helps you imagine who they might be or — I don’t consider myself a photojournalist. Mine are really just my kind of take on who that person is, and how the clothes kind of help create the image.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But the photos are just a starting point for the real action, Schuman says, which is found in the give-and-take from his audience around the world.

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    When I started, I was listening to a lot of sports talk radio.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Yes?

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    And people, you know, they talk about sports and their kind of point of view, people will call in and they really have a discussion, and somehow it clicked in my mind that you could do something similar like that in fashion.

    I could go out and take pictures of people on the street, put it on the blog, and then people could have their comments. You know, I love the way that looks, or that looks horrible, or who is this person?

    So, I never worry about if I’m telling the story of who this person really is. It’s totally my perception, how they make me dream.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    It’s your story.

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    It’s my perception of this picture. It’s my picture. But then when you share it on the Internet, then everybody gets to have their take on what their story is on it.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    This was Fashion Week in New York. And for part of the day, Schuman joined the scrum of photographers snapping photos outside a Lacoste show, and then had a front-row seat for the runway action.

    Most days, though, he does this, rides his bike around New York and other cities looking for subjects. Nice work if you can make it work, which Schuman does through ads on the blog and through collaborations with designers. He’s a self-described shy guy stopping total strangers on the street.

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    Good, good, good, good. You can put your hands in your pocket.

    I think that shyness makes me very understanding of other people. I can put myself in their position, the way that I have to approach a straight guy, and walk up to some straight guy on the street and say, hey, you look great, can I take your picture?

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Right.

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    And make him feel that I’m not trying to hit on him. And same thing, like if I walk up to a girl who looks really cool and say, oh, you look really great, can I take your picture, I have to make sure she understands I am not trying to hit on her.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    These are the challenges of your trade, eh?

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    Totally the challenges, and totally — it comes from being sensitive to myself, to try and put myself in their position.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The blog led to books. A new one coming this fall is titled “The Sartorialist: X,” featuring street style around the world, Italian men smoking outside a trattoria, a mother at an outdoor market in Peru, a young man on a moped in Bali, and much more.

    Is there such a thing as a global style? Are you seeing a global style or a diversity around…

  • SCOTT SCHUMAN:

    Oh, it’s a total, total diversity.

    A great example is, I was in Soweto in South Africa, and there was a young guy there, and he had on a suit that he bought at a secondhand store. When I shot him — and he’s in the third book — pulled back far enough that you get the context of who he is, the way he’s dressed, and the place where he lives.

    And to me, that’s what really makes the photograph so endearing, is that you have got this kid who felt — talking to him, I felt like I was talking to myself. He was another 15-year-old me. He had a dream of the outside world, and was trying to figure out how to fit into that outside world while he still lived in his place.

    First of all, they’re nice portraits. Hopefully, they’re beautiful portraits. Hopefully, it’s a nice portrait of a person.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And on our walk through SoHo, Schuman was ever on the lookout for the next bit of style to catch his eye.

    From the streets of downtown Manhattan, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the PBS NewsHour.

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