Above is a Roberto Cavalli two-piece suit. I’ve never worn one. In fact, I’ve never held one between my fingers. Even better, this Cavalli’s probably worth more than my crap car. And although this photograph of it could fit in any high-end fashion editorial, it isn’t a fashion photograph, nor is it a celebrity portrait. It’s a street photograph, one stranger being photographed by another, made for the sake of fashion. It’s a genre of photography about those who actually have the time and confidence to wear a two-piece mustard yellow Cavalli suit.
And it’s street fashion photographer George Elder’s job to find these people. Getting his start with Four Pins then Complex, Elder walks block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, looking for New York City’s most fashionable. It’s easy to see the appeal. You still get the thrills of meeting new people and the inspiration of seeing what the most stylish are wearing. And it can also get you noticed. Besides Complex, Elder has also shot with other top fashion magazines like Vogue and GQ.
In this brief interview, Eldermann talks about how he got his start in photography, explains his approach to photographing strangers, and reveals his ideas on fashion.
You shoot street-style fashion photography. How did you get your start? How would you describe your work?
I always loved photography and one day I ordered my first camera and just went out and starting taking pictures. I learned a lot from my good friend Greg Lewis who is also a photographer. Not sure how I would describe my work, I guess when I’m photographing my subject, I try to capture them in their element and telling a story through the picture.
I found your work through Four Pins and Complex magazine. How did you secure that feature with them? How did you did you get your name in their radar?
Well, I actually reached out to the editor-in-chief of Four Pins, Lawrence Schlossman, in hopes of sending him some photos he may be interested in. He actually liked my photos and gave me the opportunity to be featured on the site, and it’s been great since.
Street style photography’s really interesting. It’s about finding the most fashionable people walking around, at any point, anywhere. What’s your approach to initiating a photo shoot with a stranger? What do you say? Brandon Stanton, of HONY, has said that having a high-pitched voice always helps in smoothing over any awkwardness.
Most of the time I love the photo people in a candid moment. I feel like it’s more natural. When I do approach someone, I keep a calm tone in my voice and I introduce myself, ask them how their day is going. I always compliment them on their style. I just make sure that I am very polite, welcoming, and respectful.
When it comes to posing and expressions, how do you approach direction? Do you say anything, or is it run-and-gun?
When it isn’t run and gun, I just tell them to relax, take a breath and just be themselves. That works normally.
What’s the attraction of fashion to you? Any fashion ideas you’ve picked up while doing this? What draws you to photographing fashionable people?
I was always someone who loved fashion as a child and as time passed I became interested in how other people would put together their outfits. I most definitely get tons of fashion ideas while shooting. I also like to give other people ideas of how they could dress or put together an outfits in their own way, through my photos.
What are some lessons you took away from living in New York and looking for work as a photographer? Any great pitfalls you want to help other photographers avoid?
There are always challenges in life. Don’t be afraid to work hard to achieve your goals. Continue to have faith and believe in yourself. Always work on your craft and continue to get better and grow as a photographer.
Check the world through the lens of George Elder, & his obsession to capture fashionable people in NYC. In the artist’s words- fashionable people are everywhere. It’s about the vision.
Be sure to check out all of George’s work on his website!