From the prolific work of Bill Cunningham, who shot street style for the New York Times for almost four decades, to Scott Shuman (aka 'The Sartorialist') who spurred a whole new generation of street style photographers, bloggers, and Instagrammers with his modern-day takes on fashion, technology, and parlaying it into a lucrative career of his own brand, street style has undergone an upheaval in the last 10 years – initiating not only a disruption to the fashion world, but also colliding with it and manifesting a new style reality.
A well done street shot for a virtually unknown photographer (and/or subject) has the ability to go viral and launch careers, fashion campaigns, and inspire a massive, obsessive community of online fashion lovers/shoppers to buy one single accessory, or a whole lot more, a million times over. The power of street photography is paramount and our 31-year-old local darling, Asaf Liberfrund, of the popular blog TheStreetVibe.co, has made it his mission to not only to showcase global fashion, but also uncover how world trends connect people and how cultural baggage creates personal style in the ever-evolving bubble of fashion.
How did you get started as a fashion photographer?
One day I took a pocket camera from a friend and began shooting. I immediately felt it was the right and important thing to do in the world, and I still feel that way.
What do you shoot with?
I change cameras frequently. Right now, it's a Canon D-70.
Film or digital?
It depends on the camera. There are things that feel right for film, and there are things that feel better with digital. It all depends on what situation you're facing, and what or how you want to document it.
Minimalism or embellishments?
There's no one answer to that, it very much depends on the character of the person you're photographing. There are people on whom dramatic garments seem very natural, there are those for who it doesn't. In the final analysis, what's important to me is the commitment of the person and their interpretation of trends. I start from the assumption that world trends are the basis and it's with them that people connect, whether consciously or not at all so. Everyone brings their cultural baggage with them, and in the end that's what creates personal style in a world where it seems everyone dresses the same way. It's partially correct, but if you're sensitive enough and know how to read between the lines you can discover that the small nuances are different, and in effect, you discover an entire world. In my eyes, part of this comes from communicating with political, sociological, historical, economic and other trends, while in the end it's great to see the commentary and the message that way. Fashion is a message, there's no such thing as not getting dressed. Even if you don't try to send a message, you pass on a hidden message.
Best trend for 2017?
After several years of minimalism, in 2016 we returned to the very packed look, one that's colorful, eccentric and layered, and that's the look that will stay with us in 2017.
What do you do every day without fail?
Wander around with a camera, looking for inspiration and stylish interpretations all the time.
What is your “uniform?”
Right now I have two outfits, physical and digital. The physical outfit: black trousers, good (and black) sports shoes, black shirt, camera, batteries, cellphone, and memory cards. My digital outfit is my website, which is just as important, maybe more so, than what I am wearing because it's part of my message that I communicate with my clothes.
Where do you shop?
In Israel, I shop at Monogami, mostly for black t-shirts. I usually wear black.
What makes a photo?
I look to document interesting situations, and, of course, what's worn is central. Body language, a given moment, weather, etc., all make me want to document it.
Who is your favorite person to photograph?
There are a number of fashionable personas in Israel, for example: Meital Katz, Shiran Kadar Miller, Dana Zarmon and Tal Albalansi Farber, or people who make a statement, like Ophir Levi and Daniel Orbach from the The MAMU blog, Shiran Mania, Michal Azar, Noam Frost, Yaara Benbenishty, Sean Levy, Barak Shamir, Adi Briman and others.
Describe Israeli fashion.
Tremendous talents who should be an integral part of the public agenda.
How does being Israeli shape your perspective in your work? In life?
My perspective is much wider that one or another specific event. Many times I speak, meet or photograph talented and serious people who feel they need to apologize for the fact that they work in fashion. In my opinion, the lack of social and cultural recognition for fashion in Israel is the key point; people are ashamed of fashion and afraid to dress, even if they bought garments that are fashionable and interesting. I want to put local and world fashion (they're the same to me) on the public agenda. Fashion is art and a legitimate occupation, whose elegance sometimes causes it to be swallowed up in the Israeli discourse, which is very aggressive and brutal. My point of view, in work and in life, in general, encompasses Tel Aviv and the world at the same time, so that in the same breath it's important to me that we show ourselves that local fashion has a language and a style, because we too often tend to belittle, ignore, and forget that. At the same time I want to show what's happening in the world, because I think fashion is one of the most interesting things there is.
Which fashion week is the most inspiring as far as street fashion?
Every place has its own style, but at the moment I very much like Kiev because I think interesting things are happening there right now. Despite the super-global world we live in, it's amazing to see the meeting between world trends and movements and local cultures, which is expressed by every city's personal style.
Which city has the most unexpected, up-and-coming style?
Right now, one of the cities I prefer is Copenhagen, people there are very open minded, which is clearly expressed in the way they dress. Sophisticated, polished, cool and mostly light and fearless.
Which celebrity have you met in person who lived up to the hype?
In the course of my work I get to meet quite a few famous people, but people with personal style that I really like are not so much celebrities in the classic sense, like international fashion models Sora Choi and Cate Mcniel, or fashion bloggers like Pernille Tiesbaek and Lizzy van der Ligt. These are women with a sense of style that is hard to put into words, but that's exactly the reason I photograph them.
That's a question I'm often asked, and it's important to make one thing clear: I don't photograph someone who's “fashionable,” I photograph a moment or style that touches me. Personal style isn't something that's pretty today and not pretty tomorrow, but a certain kind of commitment, and that commitment is exactly what I seek. Personal style can just be an interesting look and not clothing, but it can be the connection between the two.
What's next for you?
My first exhibition will hang in the Designer's Boutique Complex. It's an exhibition of selected photographs I shot at fashion weeks in Europe. On a personal level, I plan to keep on updating thestreetvibe.co, which will soon be upgraded with a number of new surprises. I'd like to reach interesting places and people, and to promote the culture of fashion in Israel as much as possible.
The Street VIBE exhibit, Designer Boutique Complex, Dizengoff Center January 5-February 5 (thestreetvibe.co)