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By Govindini Murty. In honor of Fashion Month, I thought it would be fun to introduce Libertas readers to one of my favorite fashion/street-photography sites, The Sartorialist. Founded in 2005 by Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist is one of the most visually-inspiring sites out there. Schuman has been doing an exceptional job recently covering the New York, London, Milan, and Paris fashion shows. I’ve included a favorite look he captured from the Gucci show here, and other striking shows he’s covered include the Marc Jacobs show and the Altuzarra show in New York. Back in January Schuman also covered the men’s collections in Florence (where Luca Rubinacci epitomized the Italian style) and Milan, where the most elegant presentation was the Bottega Veneta show.

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Of course, Schuman covers a lot more than runway shows – his main talent is as a street-style photographer – but we’ll get to that in a moment.

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The 2011 Gucci Fall/Winter collection, shot by Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist.

Jason and I often speak about the importance of feeding the visual sense. As filmmakers and creative people, it’s extremely important to think about the image as much as about words, dialogue, and ideological meaning. That is why we here at Libertas make the effort to provide you with a site that is as appealing to look at as it is thought-provoking to read.

I found out about The Sartorialist about a year and a half ago from an article in British Vogue. Scott Schuman started the site in 2005 by posting photos he had taken of the quirky and chic people he encountered on the streets of Manhattan. The Sartorialist attracted more and more admirers, including many fashion industry professionals who turned to the site to see what was happening on the street-level in fashion. Within just a few years Schuman has become a fashion force to be reckoned with. The Sartorialist now receives more than two million unique visitors a month and Schuman’s photos are on the inspiration boards of major fashion houses around the world. Schuman has also been named one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Design Influencers and he has been profiled in numerous fashion magazines and newspapers (read an LA Times profile here and an article in The London Times). In 2009 Schuman also published  a terrific book of his street-style photography.

Unique street style, February 2011, shot by Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist.

Intel recently produced a short film about Scott Schuman’s work that I think you’ll enjoy watching (posted above). I especially appreciate his comments in the film about the importance of being alive to the world, and spontaneously reacting to what you’re seeing. This sort of openness is crucial to any creative person – whether you’re a filmmaker shooting a film or a graphic artist creating a new design. You have to be open to the small surprises, to the twists of fate, to new interpretations that come from your actors or your subjects, or the world around you. In the midst of the flow of creativity, you have to be able to step back and be a flaneur – and take in a wider view of the world and revel in the play of life.

A street-vendor in Florence, shot by Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist.

Jazz Age dance party, photographed by The Sartorialist.

This openness to the world is what makes The Sartorialist so popular – and why I for one find it so refreshing to visit each day. You literally come away from the site taking a new pleasure in life and in humanity.  (That’s why I also enjoy Italian Neorealist and French New Wave films, because they too were often shot with freshness and spontaneity on the streets).

Viviana Volpicella and Anna Dello Russo of Vogue Nippon, shot in Milan by The Sartorialist.

Scott Schuman’s photos can best be termed ‘humanistic’ because they celebrate such a fascinating cross-section of humanity. His photos are at the same time both classic – often shot full length, centered in the frame, against some strong architectural element or a background with a vanishing point – and yet eclectic and modern, focusing on people who are not always perfectly put together, but who have a unique way of mixing colors and shapes or some original way of presenting themselves. I often think of how ‘cinematic’ these photos are – and they often inspire me to come up with new ways to envision my own film and art projects.

A pizzicheria in Rome, shot by Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist.

Schuman’s photos vary from those of the ultra-chic fashion crowd (my favorites include his photos of such outrageously glamorous fashion editors as Giovanna Battaglia of Italian Vogue, Carine Roitfeld - recently-departed editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue – and Anna Dello Russo of Vogue Nippon) to regular people on the streets of all ages, income levels, and ethnicities. Schuman is invited all over the world to shoot ad campaigns and do book signings, so as a treat we now get to see his street-fashion photography from cities as diverse as Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, New Delhi, Sydney, Moscow, Berlin, Madrid, Naples, and Stockholm – in addition to fashion capitals like New York, Milan, Paris, and London.

Rubinacci father and son on the streets of Milan, courtesy of The Sartorialist.

Here are some photo essays I’ve enjoyed: handsome toreadors in Spain, an elegant Italian gentleman in Florence, colorfully-dressed women on the streets of London, an old-world men’s store in Brussels, a doorway in Rome, a cafe in Buenos Aires, a housepainter in Savannah, yukata-clad men in TokyoMennonite children in Pennsylvania, a Jazz Age dance party in New York, and a terrific series in which he had people send in vintage photos of family members – here’s one, here’s another, and here is yet another.

Garance Doré and Scott Schuman, photo by Graeme Mitchell, New York Magazine

I should add that his lovely partner in all this is the talented French fashion blogger, photographer, and illustrator Garance Doré. I will devote a separate post to Ms. Doré later, but let me just say how much I enjoy her photography and illustrations as well. Since last fall, Doré has also been producing short videos of the fashion shows she attends, and I believe these are amongst the best shot and edited fashion videos out there. Their impressionistic style, their creative editing and eye for beauty, make them a joy to watch.

I hope you enjoy The Sartorialist and that you find his photos visually inspiring as you venture forth in your own creative endeavors.

Posted on March 3rd, 2011 at 5:34pm.

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6 Responses to “The Sartorialist: Feeding the Visual Sense”

  1. Veeki says:

    Love the photos and the site.

  2. Claude says:

    Everybody in Paris is speaking of John Galliano being fired from Dior. The fashion industry is in an uproar and worried about their image. Since you have brought up fashion here I am interested in your take on this. I personally think he should have been fired for what he said, but there are those who disagree. There is a real issue of public versus private image. The fashion industry must clean up its public image after all the scandals of the last year.

    • Govindini Murty says:

      I think Dior did the only appropriate thing they could do under the circumstances.

    • jic says:

      They were right to fire him, but it’s ridiculous that he’s facing jail time.

      • Govindini Murty says:

        Yes, I was surprised to learn that. I guess speech laws are very different in Europe than in the US. My question then would be, if Galliano is facing jail time for making those comments, what about all the radical Muslims who make inflammatory, anti-Semitic comments in France and around Europe? Do they face jail-time too? I’m honestly curious about this.

  3. prince says:

    That portrait at the end by Graeme Mitchell is perfection.

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