Fashion Photojournalism: Capturing Style on the Street | Adam Katz Sinding | Skillshare

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Fashion Photojournalism: Capturing Style on the Street

teacher avatar Adam Katz Sinding, Photographer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Assignment


    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.

      Gear and Settings


    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.

      Reviewing Photos


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


    • 10.

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About This Class

Join fashion photojournalist Adam Katz Sinding for a 30-minute class on elevating the craft of street style photography. Perfect for emerging photographers and curious enthusiasts alike, you'll go behind-the-scenes at the first-ever New York Men's Fashion Week, learn the rules that define Adam's creative approach, and gain insights for refining your creative eye. By the end, you'll be both inspired and empowered to capture the style of your city.

Photo Credit: Adam Katz Sinding

Meet Your Teacher

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Adam Katz Sinding



Self taught. Self motivated. Adam Katz Sinding is a Brooklyn-based fashion photojournalist, covering fashion shows and events worldwide. His work appears in the pages of Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, New York Magazine, and countless more. Follow his work at

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1. Introduction: My name is Adam Katz Sinding. I'm a photographer. I travel around the world taking photos of people outside of fashion shows, backstage of fashion shows, on the street, in general. This class is called Fashion Photojournalism. We're going to go over my process, you're going to watch me shoot, we're going to make some select and some edits together. We're going to shoot on the street first, and then we'll go backstage to have a little bit different interaction with the subjects. So, even if you're not a photographer yet, this class can help you to see how these photos are made, you can go out and use some of these techniques. You can take these photos with any camera. I personally prefer using a professional DSLR camera, but you can go out there with a point and shoot or film or even an iPhone. So, I think one of the benefits of taking this class is to look at your subject in a different way, try to draw something out in the image that shows the personality, shows who they are, less of just an anonymous person standing in a frame, staring at the camera, to be able to take one split second of somebody as they pass by you, and show maybe who that person is even if it's just a small amount. Let's go to the street and take some photos. 2. Your Assignment: So, your project for this class is to share three photos showing the style of your city. What you're going to need in order to do this assignment is a camera and lens, your feet and shoes, and some time. Just get out on the street and a little bit of will to walk around and find the subjects that are most representative of your city. I've shot in probably 30 cities around the world during Fashion Weeks, not during Fashion Weeks. Everybody's unique, every culture is unique, so you just need to kind of identify your vision of your city, and then you can shoot according to that. I'd really love to see your work. I think that there's nothing more inspirational than posting your photos, getting feedback from other photographers or aspiring photographers. Also, even if you have a great photo that you're really proud of, looking at other people's work, you're always going to find something that will open your eyes to a different way of shooting, different subjects, different cities. I think you could probably go off for two to three hours a day and really walk around. I'd say spending more than one day, just have different weather and things like that will give you a little bit more variety, but I'd say two to three hours a day would be a great amount of time. 3. Rules: So, I have created a certain set of rules that I like to follow with my photos. They're not necessarily going to be the same as your rules. Everybody has their own tastes. So, let's go through some of these photos, and I'm going to show you one of my big rules is when I'm shooting people walking, it's really important for me to have their front foot have made full contact with the ground. As soon as the heel hits the ground, then the photo's in game, in play. If the foot is just a millimeter off the ground, I'm going to delete it, the front foot. We have this woman walking to a show in Paris, front foot's on the ground, back foot is up in the air. Here's another example, front foot on the ground, pressures on the front foot. There's just more dynamic to it, it looks like movement whereas when the front leg is about to hit the ground, the knee is locked. It kind of flexes the muscles in a strange way. It's just not flattering and it also doesn't look like movement. So, I shoot 11 frames a second. I don't want to say it's easy because it's not because the best frame you could screw something up, they can blink. A car could drive by but I'm shooting my camera in continuous mode. So, it's much easier to capture with a higher frame rate. It's much easier to capture this perfect step, we call it perfect step. Whereas, if you're shooting, for example, five frames a second, you have six less frames to choose from. So, maybe the camera you just miss when the foot comes down and then when it clicks the next frame, the foot's are already back up. I don't consciously think about it but I know when I'm going through my selects at the end of the day that that's the image that I'm looking for. When I'm taking a photo of somebody and there's a gesture, say for example, the hair blowing in the wind, I don't like to show the hand in transition. That's I think very important. So for example, if your hair blows across your face and you bring your hand up to pull it away, the moment it makes contact with the face and the hair, then it's in play. But when it's in the air coming up to the face, I feel like it's not the gesture yet. This is a great example. This is a set of three models and she has her fingers just coming to her chin. Her hat was blowing in the wind. It was actually about to blow off, and I have other selects where she's reaching up to keep the hat from flying off of her head. But that to me tells the story the moment's a little bit better than just the hand coming across to the air. She has the phone to the side of her head. She's smiling. She's hearing something on the other side of the phone that has created some sort of emotion in her and that's also a gesture for me, the smile. Another big rule that I have is I like to avoid eye contact with people. In lesson taking a portrait, I like to at least feel that they don't know that I'm there. I tend to shoot people from the back, from the side, or if I shoot them from the front, I prefer their gaze to be not at the lens. Sometimes what I'll do in that situation is they will make eye contact with the camera, and then they realize that I'm standing six feet in front of them, and then that will cause them to laugh or to look away, at which point then the photo becomes into play for me. So, here's an example of me shooting from behind two people walking with their front foot down, and obviously, I'm not going to get any eye contact if I'm shooting their back. Here's a model, her hair is blown across her face, across her eyes. Obviously, she's not looking at me because her hair is covering her eyes. Here's three girls walking towards me, texting, models, and none of them are looking at me. They all look like they're the right step. I've considered the phone to kind of be the gesture. Here's a great example. Walking towards me, not looking. The gesture is holding this glass of orange juice, and I'm very close to her in this photo. I don't crop my photos afterwards. Generally speaking, these are how the photos come out of the camera. So, to be that close to a subject and have them not making eye contact with the cameras, not the easiest thing but also creates this nice dynamic. More than anything, I think that the reason that I shoot at this close proximity to where you would have to then crop the part of the face off is because it creates a little bit more shallow depth of field. So, the closer you are to your subject, the blurrier the background is when you're shooting at a lower aperture. So, I'm sitting very close to these people to create this separation from the foreground and the background. If I had negative space above the top of their head, that would require me to pull back a little bit which would decrease that separation between the foreground and the background. So, what you'll see in my photos is my frame ends here right at the nose, right above the lip. I try not to go below the lower lip just because I feel like it looks like I screwed up. I don't know. Here's two models I've cut just right at the top of the head to allow for that more intimate distance between them. So, I like to shoot at 90 degree angles. I feel like you're always facing your subjects so maybe that's why I like to do this. But I'm shooting people walking directly away from me, walking directly towards me, or generally speaking, directly from the side. Here's a girl running away from me. She's not scared, I don't think. Here's directly from the side, shoes. Here's directly from the front. So, here's a woman crossing the street. She's crossing at a diagonal angle across the street. She doesn't line up at the front of the cars. But I'm still right on her side. Here's this model. Now, although her shoulders are turned away from me, her face is turned towards me. So, I consider that to still be 90 degrees straight on. Instead of having these photos where you have this subject that's completely clean background, there's nothing distracting in the background that's becomes more and more difficult to do. Somebody can walk behind your subject and it can ruin the frame. So, this is a good example of something that I've been doing over the past year is shooting my subjects through the crowd. So, there's a foreground which is blurry. Other people, generally speaking, or cars, or whatever, and your subject is in the background and you select your focus on the subject of the background which then draws your eye to the subject. The foreground lens to this chaos that is the vibe outside of these fashion shows but it draws your eye through it. It shows you the person that you're trying to show. But it also adds to this atmosphere of what it felt like to be there at the moment. 4. Philosophy: So, in all of the photos that I'm taking, I'm looking for emotion and personality. I'm not really interested in the brands. I'm not interested in trends or anything like that. That is very interesting for a lot of people, but I'm trying to show something a little bit more than that with some substance. It just makes for a more interesting photo that speaks to more people than just people in the fashion industry as well. So, I think that that's an added benefit to be able to show it to somebody who doesn't care about fashion and have them still understand why this is maybe a nice photo. I think integrity is massively important more than anything. I've turned down jobs that I felt didn't really fit my style or people who asked you to compromise. For example, I'll get hired and I've gone on jobs where they say "Hey, we love your pictures and this is why we wanted to work with you here." And then they're like "Hey, but do you mind? Instead of cutting their faces right here, can you give us some space above the head?" And it's like "Well, that's not my style." And I have to respond to them and say, "Listen, this is why I am here. This is what I do." I think that saying that will set you apart versus just compromising and changing for the client. They should be coming to you and you should be taking your photos for yourself, and people will then come to you for that versus you shooting and adapting to somebody else's taste. You're not going to really have an identity yourself that you can have people look at an image and say, "Oh, that looks like it belongs to.. so and so." I think that there's more value in that than the immediate benefits that you would get from just taking a job and shooting how the person wants you to shoot. As far as finding your own style is concerned, it is going to happen when you're not looking. It's not something you can just go out and be like, "If somebody's doing this, so I'm going to do this." Yes, you can have a concept for sure, but your style will have to follow that. This is just my opinion, but I think that it has to happen organically. If you force it, there's going to be some kind of sacrifices. There's going to be some kind of compromise. I think that it has to be based off of an organic evolution into it. If you're looking for it, you're not going to find it. It just has to happen, I think. If you want to find your style, you have to be always with a camera. I'm always with the camera. It's annoying. I'll go to parties. Even though I don't shoot at night, I have my camera with me just in case. I think just always having your camera with you, taking as many photos as you possibly can, I wish I took more photos and I take thousands of photos every day, each time you press the button, you're going to learn something. It's not going to make you worse, let's put it that way. The style of photography that I'm part of requires a lot of patience. I shoot more frames now, but of less people than I did when I first started out. I used to just scatter shoot and shoot everybody because everything was exciting to me. Now I've focused my eyes a little bit more. I know what I like and that comes with time, and from shooting, and taking a lot of photos. You'll see what you like. You'll see the framing that you like. You'll see the subject that you like and then you build it from there. So, one of my tactics is to not stand in a big crowd of other photographers. If you're standing right next to another photographer and somebody walks up, two things are going to happen or potentially going to happen: you're going to have a very similar photo to the guy standing next to you or you're going to have no photo because the guy sitting next to you steps in front of you or you step in front of him and you guys are ruining each other photos. So, what I'd like to do is I'd like to distance myself again with my other social tendencies. I will stand. I'll look and see where people are getting dropped off in the cars. I'll look and see what the subway entrance is. I'll look and see what the best light is and for me, it's more about quality over quantity. I don't need to shoot everybody going to the show. Even if I miss a couple of amazing people, I'd rather have five great shots than 15 so-so shots or similar shots to other photographers. So, I'm standing 200 feet away, alone, and everybody else is standing over there right by the door a couple of feet away. I have a very large differentiation between when I'm shooting my normal photos like what we've looked at here. Sometimes, I'm motivated to shoot a portrait of somebody. I have no idea why. I'll go and I'll stand three feet from their face and just take a photo of their face, it contradicts everything that I've told you, but sometimes somebody just has an interesting face that I want to take a photo of, and either I will take a very close and just shot if their head or I'll take a photo of them standing in front of a facade or something like that. But the interaction still that I have what the subject is still very, very brief. It's "I'm going to take your photo, perfect. Stand there. Okay, chin down. Perfect. 11 frames in 1 second. All right, and then I'm out." Those are some of the rules that I like to follow. Some of my strange ways of shooting. 5. Gear and Settings: Okay. So, let's talk about what I always keep in my bag or in my hand actually. I use a professional DSLR camera, I'd choose Nikon myself. I have one lens that I shoot everything that you see on my website with. I shoot with a little bit longer lens. It's more of a portrait lens, 85 millimeter. I shooti in continuous mode. I have a GPS on top of my camera here to geotag the images in Lightroom, extra memory cards. These cameras are pretty good with batteries. Can generally get through a whole day with one battery. That being said, I'm a boy scout and always be prepared. So, I'll try and keep an extra battery with me, especially if I'm going to do a backstage where I'm going to normally double my image count for the day. So, spare batteries, spare memory cards, the best camera you can afford, the best lens you can afford, and if you're a nerd like me GPS and a strap. I see guys without straps and when you're running around like we do, in groups of people running to traffic, I'm just like cringing and thinking people are going to throw the thing on the ground on accident or you take one wrong step and it launches across the street. So, get a strap. I keep my strap, actually I have a wrist strap. I don't like to put the camera over my shoulder, kills my shoulder. Also having the camera in your hand I think increases the likelihood of you actually taking the photo versus having to take your hands at your side and lift the camera to take a photo it's just more immediate. I'm generally shooting at a low aperture to create that kind of separation that we talk about here between the foreground and the background. As time has progressed I've stopped my aperture down a little bit. I used to shoot everything at 1.4, it gave me a lot of really blurry images. Now, most of my stuff I'm shooting it F2. If I'm doing a campaign or look book, I'll shoot it at higher aperture to get more detail. But for my website, for my magazine clients, everything a shot at F2. It gives just the right amount of in-focus versus out of focus. I shoot in continuous mode with this Nikon, it's 11 frames a second. I use auto white balance because I'm running around so much, just so many different light situations. I try and shoot in manual mode as much as possible. If it's difficult lighting situation I'll put the camera in aperture priority. But on a cloudy day like today, and what we're going to see on the street today, I'll have it in manual, just to make sure that the camera doesn't make some decisions that I don't want it to make. When I shoot backstage I always underexposed my images at least a little bit just to degrade them. It sounds strange but I think it adds to the mood of this intimate backstage. Having the little bit of gray and a little bit of the lack of quality and I underexpose. I bring it back in post-production. I turn them black and white with high contrast or I'll shoot them with some filter of some sort to create a moodier feel. For ISO, I don't like to go above 60, pardon me, 3,200, 1,600 is prime, 3200 gets a little bit degraded especially if you're underexposing by as much as I like to do. So, 1,600 would be my cap and then I would rather underexpose the image versus boosting my ISO to 3,200 causing more grain. It just doesn't work the same way. But if I walk into a backstage and it's like night, I'll do it. Let's go to the street and take some photos. 6. Street: It's going to be a lot of standing around and waiting today I think. I don't know what I'm waiting for to be honest, it's very quiet. They can't really describe what I would like to shoot. But, I guess it's partially well-dressed people and partially dynamic personality I suppose. So, like with that guy, the reason I shot him. I mean, I like the way he walked, that was interesting, but he had a lot of interesting details going on. He had a shoelace belt and then he had this handkerchief hanging up from his bag. When they're walking past, you can see it happening, you can see how this person has something intriguing about them. I shoot really close, I shoot at a very low aperture like an f2.0. When you're really close and you're focusing on the foreground and everything in the background becomes very blurred and it draws your eye to whatever you're trying to draw the viewer's eye too. Basically in that situation he had a cup of coffee in his hand, so that was the closest thing to me. I mean, I'm not necessarily trying to focus on the coffee, but it's part of his whole personality, I guess. Head down, head down, head down. You'll see in the way that I take photos is I'm always cutting people's face right here because I don't think it's important to show who they are. I think that it's not an important issue, it's just everybody has the photo of the person's face, so I don't need that. The thing with the street that I find really exciting, but it's also extremely frustrating is you basically have zero control. I like this guy. Let them go. You only have where you put yourself and how you set your camera and everything else is completely left up to chance, which I think is really great, but it also makes it extremely frustrating because you'll chase people sometimes a quarter mile to try and get a photo, and then right when it's about to happen, right when you're at the best place and it's going to be the perfect framing and the best light, they hop into a cab. Excuse me. Let me just. Thank you. Come through, out. God dammit, he looked right at me. I like when people look down and pretend I'm not there or not even pretending. I wish they just didn't know I was there. It's like as soon as they came around the corner they slowed down and waited so that there'd be a clean frame, and to me I'd rather run for it and fight for it to get a good photo than to have them do it for me, it's boring. So, one of the most important things for me at least is to not get to know the people that you're shooting because it ruins the dynamic because now they know you, they maybe know how you like to shoot them, maybe going to intentionally ignore you because people know that I like to be ignored in my photos. Then, after I finished shooting, then we say, "What's up?" To me it ruins the dynamic because if I know that person is an acquaintance. There's no real sense of urgency in taking the photo. I feel like I can do it at anytime. So, I guess it's a little bit lonely or kind of way of doing it, but for me it's the priority is to get good photos. 7. Backstage: Right now, we're backstage at Robert Geller's Spring/Summer 2016 Show. It's super crowded, and I'm trying to take portraits. Can I get a portrait pretty quickly? Just straight towards me? Shoulder towards me, chin down. Perfect. Thanks man. Straight. Shoulder that way. There you go. Now, chin down. Thanks man. Chin down a little more. There you go. Perfect. Thanks man. Shoulder down. Chin down. Chin down. There you go. That's it. I'm shooting everybody like I'm not there and if models are looking at the camera, I'm like listen man, I'm not here. Ignore me. Good to see you. I'm not here. I'm not here. Don't look at me. Look anywhere but not me. It's exciting. Backstage, we have a lot of more variety, even more chaos than you find on the street. No, are we doing hats really? I'm going to re-shoot everybody. Look to the side real quick, just to the side and down. There you go. That's it. That's it. Down, down. Chin down. Chin down. That's it man, thank you. Thanks, man. Shoulder straight towards me. Chin down. Go ahead. Straight towards me. Chin down. Chin down. Down. Down. Down. Tighter situation. It forces you to try new things. Basically when I started doing this, I had no idea what I was doing, so I just shot everything knowing that full well I was under- Normally, I underexposed by two to three stops because I don't care about the color and I like the graininess of lack of quality and the images when you bring it back three stops, even sometimes four stops depending on the light. There's good enough light here but the thing is if it wasn't daylight outside, this would be a lot better, but I mean everything is going to be underexposed without real light. I'll correct it all afterwards. I know that's probably not the proper way of doing it, but I like my stuff, especially backstage. It's super non-commercial. I don't care about making any money from doing any of this stuff. It's all about just taking images that I find. I think that's how I shoot everything. To be honest. It's just for me, and then if other people who like it. That's an amazing extra bonus, but it's not the priority. That's enough. Thank you. 8. Reviewing Photos: All right. So, let's take a look at some of the photos that we took today outside of the shows. Here's Bruce Pask walking towards me, I've cut the top of his head like we said before it's a good step. Nice gesture. It looks like he's interacting with somebody over on the side there, ignoring me big rule. Here's Caitlin Fear walking away from me no eye contact the right step. Again, this guy coming straight towards me even though he is six feet away from me he's not paying attention to the fact that I'm there somehow ignoring the big bearded dude sitting in front of them. Three women walking directly towards me the crop that I like the gesture here with the hands crossed across the front, the other girls holding her coffee. He walked very confidently I like to style and this guy here sitting on the brick wall, the gesture with the hat on the face, not looking at me, shot straight from the front even though she's right in front of me she's looking off maybe looking for a car I don't know but I'd like to gesture, I like her she's gripping the phone, her hand in the pocket. She's going somewhere, it's obvious that she's going somewhere in this photo, it's not just her standing there waiting to have her photo taken. There's this interesting contrast between her white outfit and his black outfit, he's very static and more stoic while she's moving in more dynamic. It's a nice little balance and imbalance kind of situation. I like the way that he walks, I like his tattoo, I like he is carrying the skateboard. I like that he's not paying attention to me. I like the handkerchief and his neck and in this pocket, the strange glove on the other hand. There's a lot about this photo that I really like. You can see the rain falling as well. Now, this is an interesting photo for me because this photo's about this jacket and the interesting quote on the back but also he has a tattoo underneath is eye, I think that that's equally as important as the jacket. This guy in the Tom Brown suit walking underneath the umbrella. In this situation, I didn't crop his head. I set my angle toward the umbrella would crop his eyes out. So, the umbrella did what I would have the camera do otherwise and you have the dynamic motion of the jacket flipping open you see the Tom Brown tag, his hand is up, he's in the right step, both of them are doing my proper step. The front foot planted the other up in the air, both of them are ignoring me, it shot directly from the side, it's fitting all of my rules in this situation. So let's also have a look at the backstage images from the Robert Geller show. Start off with some portraits here. These were shot probably about one full stop, one and a half stops underexposed and I brought them back. You have the shadows on the eyes which is not how you would shoot a normal beauty portrait but to me, this is a little bit moodier. I don't like a bright happy image. These guys here standing waiting to walk on the runway. They're both wearing the same belt. It doesn't follow my rule of the 90 degrees, I don't think that that's important backstage. Because there's so much going on you're able to kind of hide yourself in a different way. It's just a different interaction. I love shooting when models are changing because I think it's the most dynamic moment. Once they've got the clothes on, everything kind of stops and it's just waiting for the show to start. Here is having his hood adjusted, it's same kinda thing, but now it's an interaction between two people, it's the dresser and the model. Here he's looking at a shoulder, here he's laughing at somebody's joke, he's laughing at somebody's joke, and somebody screwing with this hair. There's a lot going on backstage. It's a completely different situation than you have on the street but it's still people and it's still movement and it's super interesting. I love this one with him putting a shirt on, it's like adjusting his shoulders. He's looking up, I think someone just called his name if I remember, the necklaces so you see the necklace, how to focus on the background the necklace and focus in the foreground. Let's take a look at some photos I didn't nail. So here was my select and you see immediately afterwards that foot comes up and when I see a photo of the breaks one of my rules, 99 percent of the time is delete it. I'm too afraid that I'm going to come back to a photo that I've fallen in love with for some reason that breaks one of the rules. There's a lot of images here. When you shoot that many frames, you take a lot of bad images. Like so, for example, this image here, I have one person making the right step and the other three people are making the wrong step. A lot of bad things going on, it's not a good photo. There's only one right photo like in any of these situations. Here's Bill Cunningham. He's halfway hidden behind a Range Rover, here he is almost out and there he is right in the middle of the frame. Here's the guy with the shoelace, many wrong steps, many where I'm just too far away. This guy here has a guy in the background. Here we have Bruce making not a great face and then let's see where's my select, then he smiles and it's the select and then he is too close and I've lost the photo. There's so many ways to do it wrong and I just hold the button down sometimes until it works out. As soon as you see it in the viewfinder, you know that you're in the right place. It's just a matter of making sure you get the exact right moment. 9. Final Thoughts: That's it, we've gone over the process, we've run around the streets taking photos, and backstage, and we've gone over my editing, and my selections, the photos that I like, why like them, and my weird rules. So, now it's your turn, head out onto the streets, or backstage, or wherever, and take some photos, show us how you see your city, post them up here. I think that commenting on each other's work and giving each other positive feedback, constructive criticism, can only help you guys move forward. Most importantly show us how you view the city, not just the city, but how you view it. I think that's the most important thing, so good luck. 10. Explore Photo Classes on Skillshare: