Sunday, January 5, 2014

Plaids in Public

I watched Bill Cunningham New York the other night, a documentary about the street fashion photographer, and it inspired me to take my camera out on the street again. 

It's so cold here, people are well-covered, mostly in drab colors, but I noticed a lot of plaids. 
John, below right in a hand-tied plaid bow tie, confirmed for me that plaid is in. He also told me that the red and black pattern of Marz's Woolrich jacket isn't a plaid, it's a check, specifically a buffalo check.*  

I've been fretting about the ethics of using photos of people without their knowledge. (It's legal in the U.S., but that's not the point.) 

I finally decided that tempting as it is, I just don't feel right exposing people's faces without their permission, for the most part. (I asked the three people above whose faces show for permission.) 

But I feel fine using body pix, like the ones below. Where faces showed, I blurred the features. They might still be somewhat identifiable, but I don't feel I'm using them.

The scene outside the library that I posted yesterday felt so much like public performance, I'm letting it stand. But I deleted the accompanying photo of the old woman in fur: I sensed even as I took it that she didn't want me to.  

Anyway, ethics & ease aside (it's certainly easier in all sorts of ways not to talk to strangers), for me it's more fun to ask people for permission.

Of course sometimes they tell me to f**k off,  so I have to be prepared for that. In my limited experience, though, most people say yes, pretty happily, and go on and talk about all sorts of cool odds and ends.

Yesterday not only did I learn about buffalo check, but the woman in the plaid cap told me she was buying food for her son's fat hamster. 
"I never thought I could love a hamster," she said, "but I do."

*Buffalo check fabric was originally used for blankets and lumberman jackets, like Paul Bunyan's. "Plaid" is an American name for Scottish tartan, and that's a whole other ball of yarn.


Michael Leddy said...

That’s a wonderful movie, isn’t it? Bill Cunningham is a great example of doing what you love and not giving a dang about conventional definitions of success.

But what I also wanted to say is that your photos support my belief that plaid is warmer than other fabrics.

Zhoen said...

I do love that red buffalo check. Although plaid is a common term for if, if not technically correct, most of us don't need to be that technical. Language is usage.

I remember taking such photos in Boston, and seeing a preponderance of black coats. Made me want a red one, as my parka was black as well. I can't be the only one who saw so much dark and thought, "When I replace this one, I'll get it in a bright color."

Bookworm said...

I love your photos - and your willingness to talk to strangers (not one of my strengths). I hope you make a documentary or docu-blog one day. Also hope you are managing to keep warm. While you freeze the UK is slowly drowning.

Fresca said...

MICHAEL: Yes! I loved Bill Cunningham and would recommend it to anyone, whether they liked fashion or photography for just the reason you stated.
My favorite line is when he says, "Money is the cheapest thing." Freedom and time are the most expensive.

ZHOEN: And yet everyone keeps buying the dark colored coats! Well, mine is gray too, but I try to wear bright scarves.

BOOKS: Yikes! Those floods look scary over there.

I find talking to strangers frightening and exhausting... but also rather exhilarating.

poodletail said...

Hmph. If plaid has ever been out I don't know about it.