Visual Life Documentary: The Satorialist
I really enjoyed this short documentary on street fashion photographer, Scott Schumann aka The Satorialist. He has such an professional, friendly, but somehow odd report with his subjects. There were two quotes from the film that particularly resonated with me. See below.
The first quote articulates why I choose to take the photographs I do. And why (sometimes), even if my girlfriend tells me a particular photograph is boring, I keep it. Because I believe that seemingly boring ideas in one context can be interesting in another. Particularly when the something, like a photograph, becomes part of a collection.
In the turn of the century there was a photographer named Lartigue who went out and shot on the street and was documenting the people of their time. and today, to us, a lot of those photos seem so romantic. We look a the old Lartigue photographs and we think ‘everyone is so beautifully dressed’. but if you went and asked somebody in 1910 and showed them that photograph, someone that had a real fashion point of view. And said, how is this woman dressed? She might say great or she might say horrible. She might say that’s so 1905. But we’ve lost that thread. We can’t really… [determine] what looks right for that moment. But now, with the blog, I can take a photograph and have it up on the internet and share it…people of this moment can comment…I think it will be very interesting 100 years from now.
The photograph above was shot by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, The Satorialist of 1910.
More so than what’s interesting right now, I hope the photographs I take are interesting 10 or even 100 years from now. And yes, I imagine there is substantial cross-over there. But people are key subjects in that quest, which is what makes youth culture so fascinating. In all the cultures I’ve experienced, youth are the most (culturally) influential group. They influence those younger than them and those older than them. And it’s a period of intense discovery and change.
[It's said] the world is becoming homogenised. But Milan hasn’t changed, Paris hasn’t changed, New York hasn’t changed. So I don’t think it [the internet] has homogenised anything, but I do think it’s given us what I like to call a ‘digital park bench’…before you were really limited to the people you could see right there in front of you, at your park. Now you can go online…really, the whole world is open to you now.
It’s a nice analogy. One that applies to a common misconception when interpreting the visual life of China’s youth. Their ‘park bench’ has a view of a lot that was out-of-sight to generations before them. Adopting what they see from their ‘digital park bench’ doesn’t make young people in China any less Chinese. No matter what it may look like, it’s still in China: still subject to all the environmental, historical and cultural forces that shape human behaviour.