Inside The Mind of a Street Style Photographer
The Cut’s Youngjun Koo spills the beans (i.e. what NOT to do if you want your photo taken).| April 29, 2016
A good part of the fashion week excitement takes place outdoors. You see the who’s whos of fashion taking long strides towards show locations as swarms upon swarms of street style photographers run alongside to keep up. Green lights are ignored, traffic is stalled and policemen are super pissed. Bystanders – tourists mostly – stop to look, some whipping out their phones to snap a few just in case it’s a Fanning/Kardashian/Jenner/Hadid/Rihanna. It truly is quite the spectacle, and very entertaining if you’re an onlooker.
While most will agree that the who’s whos are the real stars of the show, we like to think the photographers as the co-stars. No photographers, no pictures. No pictures, no happen. Sorraaaaay. To get behind the mechanics of the mayhem, we cornered Youngjun Koo, the resident street style photographer at New York Magazine’s The Cut. With his badder-than-thou style and cheekbones that can cut paper, Koo looks more like the one to be photographed. Alas, the South Korean has found his calling behind the lens. Read on and take notes, my friends.
‘Sup Koo! How have you been since fashion week ended?
I’ve been busy shooting things here and there, but most importantly, starting my own brand called Won I Closed, so I’ve been occupied with that.
Speaking of, no one seems to ask street style photographers how they survive fashion month. How do YOU survive fashion month?
It’s all physical and mental strength. Fashion month is draining physically and mentally, so it takes a lot of will power.
There’s a lot of waiting involved before and during shows. What’s the best way to kill time?
I just like to chill. When you’re chillin’ and time is flowin’, the wait doesn’t seem that long in the end.
Which city was your favourite to shoot this season?
Started off in New York, so I think New York may be my favourite.
Let’s get down to the real question. How do you choose whom to photograph among the sea of show-goers?
When I look at someone and I say “damn”. Most people are dressed well, but there are always a select few that impact me differently.
What does one have to do to be photographed by you?
Be yourself in the clothes you wear. When I look at someone, I hope to see the person before the clothes. That truly means the person I’m photographing has used their clothing as an extension of who they are.
And what’s the one thing NOT to do?
Overdoing it is usually what turns me off.
There are those who wait around after shows on purpose. When does it become too desperate?
I guess they call it “peacocking”. A reminder to all – a candid photo is way more powerful than a staged one.
Are you drawn to the person or the clothes?
Both. I love clothes, but I also love meeting people. That’s why I started shooting in the first place.