New York based photographer Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème travels the world attending fashion weeks but rarely goes into a show. For Adam, the allure of Fashion Week is what happens outside the shows – the people coming and going, who Adam shoots candidly on the street. His unique style and ability to capture people in a moment has seen him become one of the most internationally influential and prevalent street photographers, with his images regularly appearing in publications and on digital platforms such as W Magazine, Vogue and Style.com. While here in Sydney for his third year at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, we caught up with Adam to get an insight into fashion week through the eyes of a street photographer.
Myer: How would you describe the type of photography that you do and how did you get into it?
Adam Katz Sinding: I suppose it would be classified under “street style” although I’m not a huge fan of that term. Basically I shoot people going in and out of fashion shows which, when I say it, sounds pretty boring. But although it seems pretty straightforward, there are still so many interesting variables which can make it exciting and different.
M: What was your first camera and what do you shoot on now?
AKS: My first camera was some sort of Nikon film body which never really worked properly. Now I’m using a Nikon D4S and when I’m not shooting during fashion week I use a Leica M240.
M: What’s the biggest challenge you face shooting people on the street?
AKS: Photographers. There are so many people shooting at the venues these days. It’s makes it difficult to get a ‘clean’ shot but it also makes it challenging so it doesn’t get boring. There’s nothing more motivating than missing a great shot.
M: You have such a great eye for capturing a moment. What do you look for when shooting?
AKS: I don’t look for anything. I just try to take photos of the reality. I’m not interested in people posing or brands/trends. There are lots of photographers who love to do that, and that’s great, as that’s where the market is, but to me it can be boring.
M: What or who do you avoid when shooting?
AKS: Anyone who seems to be looking to be shot. It’s such a turn off. I like to shoot people who don’t even care who I am or that I may take their photo.
M: Do you find the style of the people vary a lot between fashion week locations?
AKS: Yes, absolutely. It’s why I travel for it.
M: For shooting people on the street, how does MBFWA compare to the international circuit?
AKS: I like it. I remember first season I had very low expectations as I suppose I do for any fashion weeks off the ‘big 4’ (New York, London, Milan & Paris), and I was so happy with what I found. It’s why this is my third season coming back.
M: Run us through a typical day for you during fashion week?
AKS: Wake up about 1.5 hours before the first show…maybe 8am? Coffee. Emails. WeTransfers. Subway. Arrive at the first show before it starts (hopefully) Shoot all day until the sun sets. Sweat/Freeze. Subway. Upload. Shower. Pizza. Edit. Wine. Edit. Get angry when I see everyone out drinking champagne at luxurious events on Instagram while I’m at my desk at 2:30am. Edit. Sleep. Repeat for 30 days without fail.
M: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
AKS: My first season traveling to London and Paris alone and having basically one month to myself just shooting and editing. It was really cathartic and the first and last time that I had the opportunity to do that. After that I’ve traveled with my friends (fellow photographers) each season which is great but just not the same as doing it alone.