A street style photographer tells us how to get snapped at MFW

I’m ready for a close-up.

If you’ve ever been to a fashion week, you’ll have seen the buzzing swarm of street style photographers as they snap away at someone who looks vaguely familiar (from The Bachelor? Neighbours? Or stalking their 2013 European vacay Facebook pics?). And although their outfit is pretty cute and they’re doing that fashion week half-smile to let everyone know they’re an expert, you can’t help but think: what have they got, that I don’t have?

Well, other than a steady stream of #bloggermail, apparently not much. In fact, with Melbourne Fashion Week starting on September 1, there’s just enough time to study what street style photographers look for, put together an outfit, practice your posing and nail that half-smile.

Fashion week veteran and street style photographer Dan Castano of Stylesnooper Dan, tells us how.

How and why did you get into the street style game?

I’d always loved browsing street style galleries and loved the idea of capturing an amazing outfit, so one day I picked up a camera and headed to an event. In hindsight, my first shots were terrible!

You’ve been all over. Be honest: which city has the best fashion?

I really love Milan. It’s a different type of fashion there: effortless yet somehow extravagant at the same time. They’re unafraid of colour and wild shapes and I love that.

What are you expecting to see at MFW?

It’s usually still a little chilly during MFW so I’m expecting some stellar winter looks from guests [with] interesting layering and textures. Hopefully some understated style and something unexpected too.

Talk us through a typical day for you during Fashion Week

The first thing I do after I wake up is go outside for some fresh air and to check the weather. Next, I check emails with coffee. From there it’s off to the venues to shoot arrivals, sometimes shoot a show, shoot departures then straight home to upload and edit. I try to get at least four hours of sleep then get up and do it all over again.

There are lots of different street style outfits, and also a lot of the same. How do you find something that stands out?

It’s actually really hard but I just go with my gut and tend to only shoot what catches my eye. It’s hard to explain but you just know what will shoot well.

What are some key things you look for in an outfit?

I look more at the way a person is holding themselves and the authenticity of their look. You can always tell when someone has spent hours overthinking an outfit and has put together a look they think they should wear. As opposed to a look they’d actually wear.

Is it more about the outfit, or the person that’s wearing it?

It’s both, but more importantly, it’s how you wear it. Sometimes unique details catch my eye and other times it’s just someone’s natural swagger. You’ve just got to feel good in whatever you’re wearing – it’s painfully obvious when you don’t.

What are your five best tips to putting together a Fashion Week perfect look?

  1. Wear something you’d actually wear IRL and that you’re comfortable in.
  2. Avoid the temptation to overdo your hair and makeup. Make like the Europeans and go for natural effortless hair and makeup.
  3. Look for interesting shapes and silhouettes and pare these statement pieces back with [something] basic like jeans or a tee.
  4. It’s polite to wear the designer you’re going to see.
  5. Don’t dress like you’re going to a club.

What can the *average woman* wear, or do, in order to get snapped by a street style photographer?

There’s no one thing but if I had to be more specific, I’d say interesting accessories worn with classic pieces.

What do you look for to ensure your photos are different from other street style photographers?

I like to shoot details and candid shots that capture a moment, rather than just a static polished look. I don’t like stopping people for a straight up-and-down photo.

Once we’re stopped, how do we pose?

If it’s me, I won’t stop you as I don’t want you to pose. I want you to pretend I’m not there – that’s when I’ll get the best shot of you.


Melbourne Fashion Week kicks off on Sepetmber 1. To head along, visit melbourne.vic.gov.au/mfw

Illustration by TwylaMae

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