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January 23, 2013

Street Style by Karl-Edwin Guerre: Pitti Uomo

Following his recent tour de force in Italy, it’s time to check in once again with Karl-Edwin Guerre of Guerreisms.com. Earlier in the month, we brought you his pre-trip packing tips (and offered a sneak peek of his immaculate photography). Today, we’re honored to present the fruits of the first leg of his travels: The best-dressed men of Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy. Guerre (pronounced ‘Gear’) was kind enough to answer a few questions as well; read on to hear the thought process behind his world-class street-style photography.


[Members of 'The Coal Project' by Art Comes First, shot by Guerre for Esquire.com.
Top image: via Guerreisms.com]

MEN’S SHOP DAILY: When is the first time you remember picking up a camera?
GUERRE: “The first time I picked up a camera with the intention of doing something serious was when I wanted to write a book. I remember looking for a photographer to capture scenes for me, but I soon learned that no one shares your passion when it’s your project. So I was forced to try to do it myself.”


[Nick Wooster. Shot by Guerre for Esquire.com.]

How did your interest in photography progress from there?
“After realizing I could capture a photo (not very well), I simply put the camera away. It wasn’t my passion, so I moved on to other things. A few years later I saw images of street style on a web publication and felt that I could contribute and bring something fresh to that scene. At the time there were only a small handful of sites geared toward street style.”


[Shot by Guerre for Esquire.com.]

Was there a turning point when you realized you might do this as a career?
“I started street style when it wasn’t about money. Maybe one or two people were making money from it, but it certainly wasn’t what led me to photography. At some point, a publication in Toronto gave me a chance to showcase my work, and little by little other publications became receptive. Is it my career? I’ll simply say I have been fortunate to make some money from street style. I’m an artist, do artists have careers?”


[Via Guerreisms.com.]

How has your photographic career evolved since then?
“My photography has evolved as I have as a person. Once I found what I liked to shoot, I focused on it, and decided to stay true to it even if that wasn’t the norm. I started to focus on details when 95% were shooting full-body shots.”


[Shot by Guerre for Esquire.com.]

Could you briefly explain the meaning and concept of ‘Guerreisms’ for readers?
“Consider Guerreisms as the theory/study of a constructive antagonism as pertaining to style. Guerreisms is about the details, the little things—especially those that tend to be contradictory—that, combined well, make the big things. It’s about knowing when to use imperfections and turning that into the perfect painting.”


[Shot by Guerre for Esquire.com.]

What, to you, are elements of a truly great photograph?
“Any element that evokes emotion is great—be it in photography, theatre, life.”


[The inimitable Bruce Pask—Men's Fashion Director at T Magazine and frequent contributor to our Men's Shop catalogs. Shot by Guerre for Esquire.com.]

Who are your favorite photographers (from any era), and why?
“I really enjoy Jamel Shabazz. He captured hip-hop at the beginning, when no one else did. To me, his street style is timeless. You won’t find shots like his anywhere; now that’s an icon.”


[Shot by Guerre for Esquire.com.]

Your own personal style (though far from boring) has a timeless feel to it. What ‘style icons’ inspire you, from any era—and why?
“I’d like to believe that I’m not inspired by the way a person dresses. Dressing is a personal thing (at least it should be), so inspiration should come from within. In terms of liking someone’s style, I really like Miles Davis – he had style behind the trumpet and in his dress. Frank Sinatra exemplified cool. And I liked the progression of Andre ’3000′ Benjamin. These three men have styles that seem to mirror their personas—or at least the little I know of their personas.”


[Via Guerreisms.com.]

You must have to react very quickly to photograph someone on the street. How do you make that determination—to shoot or not to shoot?
“If I look twice, it’s a go. If I look just once, I let it go by. While you have to be quick, I’ve trained my eye to see the details. I see the details, actually, before I see the whole outfit.”


[Shot by Guerre for Esquire.com.]

How do your interests in photography and style relate? Is one primary, or fuels the other, or are they inextricable?
“Style is not one-dimensional. It encompasses everything one does—how you walk, speak, dress, work. I had elements of style long before photography was a thought, but since it’s something I do, it’s natural that my style is reflected in it.”


[Via Guerreisms.com.]

What’s a specific item or general idea you’d like to see more men incorporate into their appearance?
“This is hard to answer. I don’t think there’s one thing all men should do or follow. We are all different in terms of personality, and it’s important that that’s reflected in style. If everyone wore a suit, I’d long to see many in jeans. At the end of the day, all I know is that I always enjoy seeing the chap who exudes his true personality.”

 


The man, the myth, the street-style visionary.
Karl-Edwin Guerre, photographed by Jason Jean of Citizen Couture.

 

[All photos, except the last, are by Karl-Edwin Guerre of Guerreisms.com. Photos taken for Esquire.com except where noted otherwise. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

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