Street Style Photographer Etiquette

By Marriam N Mossalli

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, New York: This year, Lincoln Center appeared to have more street style photographers than actual people wearing street style. It was a sight to behold if only you could see pass the blinding flashes of the fashion paparazzi.

As I left the Reem Acra show, I hid my face under my oversized “Blake” Eugenia Kim hat, hoping to maneuver through the crowd without getting my face in any shots—I had rushed to make the show, hence, was sans my “Fashion Week” make-up. Suddenly, out of nowhere an extended limb with a camera in its hand reaches under my hat and blinds me. I look up in horror as the man simply looks at his stolen image and walks away. I stood there in shock. I was even more shock that no one seemed to run to my aid. I had essentially been publically violated by this man’s camera. Or was I being too Saudi? Was this kind of behavior fashionably acceptable?

This brings me to the point of this article. What is the proper street style photographer etiquette? Is there even such a thing? If there isn’t, shouldn’t there be? Coming from a region where most fashion bloggers choose to crop their heads off to protect their identities, the idea of someone so blatantly stealing my close-up image without my permission seems so foreign.

“May I take your picture?” would’ve been nice. Perhaps even a “Thank you” afterward. Our Fashion Editor, Tala Samman, was asked by a nice, young photographer to take her picture. She agreed and after the photo, both exchanged pleasantries and then went on their way. I believe that should be the modus operandi for photographers and their subjects, not an unwelcomed breach of our personal space.

The truth is out door street style photography is probably just as important as the fashion shows going on inside the tents. Considered the purest form of fashion—although according to the latest New York Times article by Ruth La Ferla that may no longer be the case, Street Style fashion is crucial component to the fashion industry as a whole. Just as models and designers need to respect one another, so do the trigger-happy FIT students with their street style subjects. Now, if Tommy Ton could write a Do’s and Don’t guide on street style photography and pass it out to his legion of aspiring photographers that would be great. Tommy?