Ben Sklar‘s fashion coverage of Austin’s South by Southwest festival is wonderful. It’s documentary and a studio shoot all at once; it’s like Simon Hoegsberg’s We’re All Gonna Die but without the digital manipulation. You can see many more frames from the shoot, produced by Sklar and assistant Josh Verduzco, on the New York Times site. On Sklar’s blog, he goes into how the shoot happened from the assignment call to taping up seamless on a busy sidewalk in the middle of the festival. I asked Ben why he took this approach to the shoot. Here’s what he had to say.
Ben Sklar: The motivation for the project was trying to figure out a way to photograph the masses of people that descend on Austin in a clean and fluid way. Sure you can go to 6th street and shoot into the crowd with a flash and you’ll come out with something, but I thought there had to be a more provocative and visually stunning way to make people stand out in a photograph. The crowds that come range so much from very well dressed New York rockers to hip hop divas to LA hipsters and even nonchalant super chill Austinites that it makes the imagery stand out. I think the white backdrop helps accentuate the people and makes it visually more appealing for viewers. Some of my friends in New York showed me this guy who did a similar project in China on clean walls with lots of traffic and I thought it would be great if I could create my own clean wall. The bar manager Jake and door guy Bruce along with the other staffers were very supportive of the arts, so to speak. I was scouting locations for weeks prior to the fest, but once I got such a positive response from them it was game on. It ended up being so perfect because the NY Times called wanting to do a free form style story. That specific intersection was a band unloading zone so I could safely stand in the street. I’m very fortunate that I was hired to do a project I had already planned to execute and extremely grateful to everybody involved because they were so supportive of the project.