Adam Katz Sinding, fashion month never ends. He’s constantly on the move, chasing (literally) the industry’s best-dressed from one city to another, doing whatever it takes to get the best shot. As NYFW kicks off, we caught up with the lensman to find out what being a street style photographer is really like.
On starting out
The first photo I took for Le 21ème was in Seattle, of a girl traveling on the same bus as me. She was a barista at a coffee shop I frequented, and when she got off the bus I hopped off too and asked to take her photo. She was freaked out for sure.
On the term “street style”
In the most basic of explanations, I am a photographer. If you needed to place my work into a genre it would fall into street style. I don’t love the term, but it serves its purpose. My job description is this: stalk people outside fashion shows with my camera, sleep little, edit all night, eat pizza and drink wine.
On work ethic
I worked in hotels for years. I was totally neurotic in my attention to detail in order to make sure my guests at the hotel were happy, so I guess that seed was planted in all my work. It’s a bit of a curse, but it does mean I keep the standard high. I’m very organized—very good at replying to emails in a timely manner. I work hard and I think it must be apparent. I am not going to leave anyone hanging.
On the pace
Traveling so much isn’t easy, however it’s constantly stimulating. I love being in new places all the time. I just don’t like the getting to and from aspect of it. I don’t mind flying too much anymore, but I hate airports and traffic. The upside is getting to develop friendships with people all around the world. I can hop off the plane and meet up with people I met on my last trip and have a pretty authentic local experience.
Of course the routine gets old. I just want to nap basically all the time. But it’s a super rewarding job. You have to work hard. I’m not interested in taking the path of least resistance in order to just get the job done. If I’m putting my name on something, it better be perfect. Or as close to that as I’m capable of.
“I’m not interested in taking the path of least resistance in order to just get the job done. If I’m putting my name on something, it better be perfect.”
On what it takes
You need the will to sacrifice many hours in an attempt to create photos. The ability to endure 20-hour work days for 30 days straight without a break. The ability to run during ten of those hours each day, chasing people…like run running—sprinting. You basically just need to be insane.
“We are all competing. Even those of us who are close friends are still competing.”
On the rewards
I’m just super lucky. I get to work as the house photographer backstage for many of my favorite brands—brands I look up to and never thought I’d be in any way affiliated with, beyond buying their clothes. That’s still amazing for me.
Nothing’s really changed for me over the last few years. I just travel more. It’s insane, but I want to keep it the same. I’m not interested in becoming famous and stopping or changing what I do. I want to shoot the street.
On the competition
We are all competing. Even those of us who are close friends are still competing. There isn’t animosity I don’t think, just tension. If I don’t like a guy, I can still respect his work. And for me, none of us are more important than the other, so we all need to remember that. That forces us to remain respectful.
Only one of us can have the best shot. But that’s fun. Sometimes it’s some dude you’ve never met and you know he has the best angle. You ask to see it and he shows you and you’re just floored. I love that. I love how we all have an equal chance.
On being real
I refuse to partake in the staged aspect of street style. If some photographer is setting up a shot with a girl I may still shoot her, but from a totally different angle. Thus she’s not posing for me, she’s posing for him, and I can still get a candid shot. I only want the shot if it’s candid. Unless it’s a portrait.
On fashion month
I’m just focused on sleeping as much as I can before it starts. Fashion month never really stops for me. I’ve been going since January, when the last men’s shows started in London. I’ve only been home in Brooklyn for 21 days! I love taking photos. I love having new photos. It excites me.
I think the best part is seeing which models did each show. Seeing girls and boys who do exclusives and realizing that this is my one chance to get a shot. It’s so hectic—I love it.
“The popularity isn’t why I do this. I do it because I love it. I shoot for myself, not the viewers.”
On the future of street style
I try not to analyze this too much as I am sure that there will be a decline. However, the popularity isn’t why I do this. I do it because I love it. I shoot for myself, not the viewers. That being said: I’m sure soon we will see barriers and security setups at most shows. The need to have credentials and accreditation. Police. Paparazzi. That will destroy it, which is a bummer. But there are just too many photographers. It’s like three or four photographers for every person going to the show. There is bound to be a tipping point.