The Sartorialist’s Ethical Dilemma
After launching the now famous "Sartorialist" blog in 2005, Scott Schuman has emerged as an influential force in the world of fashion. A self-taught photographer, Schuman shoots for publications including French Vogue, American GQ, Fantastic Man and Elle, and a growing list of advertising clients. He has also shown his work at the New York photo gallery The Danziger Projects and appeared in the GAP Style Icon campaign in the fall of 2008. He has been named the number one fashion photography trend by American Photo magazine, as well as one of Time magazine’s top 100 design influencers. Penguin published an anthology of his favorite photographs in 2009. The hardcover collection is aptly entitled, "The Sartorialist."
Question: What’s an ethical Dilemma you’ve faced?
Scott Schuman: An ethical dilemma. I don’t think it was an ethical dilemma, but I did have to figure out how I would handle having advertising on the blog because I knew that there would be certain people saying oh, well you know here it goes, blogs are going to go downhill because they’re going to have advertising and they’re just going to shoot… American Apparel was one of the first advertisers on the site and I was prepared for people to start saying oh, now we’re going to start seeing a lot of American Apparel or whatever, but that never happened. You know I think the sincerity and the integrity of the blog, the fact that I was able to have advertising and it’s never affected any of the work on the site, that you never see anything about American Apparel on the site unless it’s something I see and someone happens to be wearing American Apparel, that the absolute integrity and sincerity is still there. I just shot a big story for Burberry, a big ad campaign and I announced it because I was very proud of the work and showed some of the pictures that I really liked from that project and probably did three or four posts, but I didn’t put anything in there about you know where to buy the trenches, no information about it. I was just showing the photographs I was very proud of from that project and the audience totally understood it. They… But at the same time I lover Burberry and I was very happy to work with that and I think the new reality is sometimes people have a hard time handling the new reality is you know I’m an artist and I’m a… I guess that’s the only way you can say it. I don’t consider myself a journalist. I’m not trying to sell you something. I’m not trying to tell you the story of these things. I’m just showing you my pictures, so I feel totally comfortable saying I love Burberry or Ralph Lauren or whatever because those are things that I like and so that’s hard for some people to be able understand that, but because it’s so consistent and I’ve been so consistent in how I present those things and how I let them be… manifest themselves on the blog that’s what I think has been able to keep the sincerity and keep the audience believing in what I do.
Recorded on December 2, 2009
When fashion labels approached Schuman about advertising, editorial integrity became an issue.
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