If you haven’t been following Très Awesome, I feel très bad for you. The rad Chicago-based street style blog belongs to Emma, who was kind enough to respond to my most curious questions despite the fact that she is currently vacationing in the Caribbean. A fashionable lady with a great eye for style and photography, Emma shares a little about herself and her experiences in the street style world.What was the last live music show you saw and how was it?
I just saw a really interesting sound installation by Andrew Bird and Ian Schneller called Sonic Arboretum at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. There were about 75 speakers of all different colors and sizes that were playing a beautiful, haunting melody. Also there was a glockenspiel involved, ‘nough said.
If you had to eat just one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ramen soup. I seriously love it. I’ll take the real deal at a Japanese restaurant with homemade noodles and Shitake mushrooms or the classic 25 cent cup of noodles. When I make the cheap variety at home I always add stuff to it to doll it up like sesame seed oil, soy sauce, spinach or an egg.
When I met you in Chicago, you were wearing an awesome pair of Prada Baroque sunglasses and you told me it was a recent splurge you didn’t regret. What are some of your other prized, splurge possessions? I still LOVE those sunglasses. I’m on holiday in the Caribbean right now, and they are coming in particularly handy. My most recent splurge also happens to be extremely practical. I just bought my first pair of Repetto Ballet flats that as a street style photographer are proving to be invaluable, I just slip them in my bag for a quick change out when high heels start getting in the way.When and how did you get your start in street fashion photography? Was it a love of fashion, photography, or both?
It was definitely a love of both. I’ve always been a huge clothes horse. I was the girl that never wore the same thing twice to her senior year of highschool (crazy town usa). I also come from a family of shutterbugs. My grandfather was a news photographer during the 30’s and owned a camera store. My dad shoots with a variety of vintage film cameras and develops the film and prints in the darkroom he has set up in the basement.
Were you trained professionally in photography or is it something you just started to do?
I took a lot of photography classes growing up but it was never a focus. I was always more interested in painting and drawing, which I studied in college. When I moved to Chicago to study Visual Communication at the Art Institute in Chicago I started taking photos on a regular basis. Mostly interesting architecture or street scenes I saw around the city, but always completely devoid of humans. One of the reasons I started Très Awesome was to put people in my work instead of continuing to take photos of really interesting peeling paint on an old wall!
Was it hard to approach people to take their photography when you first started, and is it any easier now?
When I first started Trés Awesome, approaching people on the street and asking to take their picture was incredibly difficult. As time went by and my confidence grew, I began enjoying the process of going out and meeting new people to capture them in all of their fabulousness. The pretenses all sort of fell away to reveal this extremely fun and engaging experience for me and the person being photographed.
Fast forward: Your blog is overwhelming successful and you shoot for Elle.com, Refinery29.com, and Garmental. How did that happen?
It’s funny how these things happen. It’s an exciting time for fashion on the internet, and there’s a lot of attention on street style blogs.I’ve been very fortunate.
Is Tres Awesome now your full time job?
No it is not. I get to work on great brands as an art director with amazing people at Leo Burnett, one of the big advertising agencies.
What kind of cameras do you use?
I use a Canon 50 D. It is great. I use both a 50mm and 85 mm lens.
Have you always lived in Chicago? Do you get to travel for Tres Awesome?
Chicago has been my home for over 10 years. I moved here to attend the School of the Art Institute and fell in love with the city. I saw a brand of style that was unique to this city and felt that documenting that might make more people feel comfortable taking risks with their own styles. My main focus is on this cities street style so the only travel I do right now is to fashion week in New York.
How do you identify well-dressed people? Where do you find them?
It’s kind of like how the Supreme Court defines pornography: you know it when you see it. There are well dressed people all over. There tends to be a higher concentration of them around major shopping areas. My go to neighborhoods are Wicker Park/Bucktwon and the Gold Coast.
How would you define Chicago style?
Chicago is a city of neighborhoods each with its own unique take on personal style. It runs the gamut from sophisticated, to practical, to avante garde.
What was the coolest outfit you ever photographed? The coolest single item you’ve seen someone wearing?
The most popular photo I’ve taken was of Tavi Gevison backstage at Pitchfork last year. It got a lot of attention because it was one of the first public photos of her as a teenager as opposed to a little kid. My favorite photograph I’ve taken of all time was of a man in Pilsen all dressed up in his cool cowboy gear. The single coolest item of clothing I have photographed was of Cindy Ko in a fabulous Stella McCartney dress.
Well dressed or interestingly dressed people are often interesting people themselves. Have you ever met any cool people just by asking to take their photograph?
I’ve met so many extraordinary people, from the stylish folks I’ve met on the street, to interesting boutique owners, designers, and other photographers. The people I’ve met is one of the best things about starting my blog.
Are there any fashion blogs you follow and recommend?
There are so many great ones out there.
- Should be on the Nanny. They paste Fran Dreschser’s head on various runway outfits that she might have worn on the Nanny. BRILLIANT!
- Advanced Style. Ari Seth Cohen’s homage to the style of our elders.
- The Possessionista…to see where I can get the dress Blair wore on gossip girl last night.
- Bike Fancy for cool Chicago cycle chic street style.
- Refinery29 Chicago to keep up on the latest fashion news in the city.
Thank you for your time, Emma!
All images provided courtesy of Tres Awesome