Guerre, owner of style blog Guerreisms, has been tirelessly behind his lens documenting the best dressed in New York and beyond. With a creative streak that extends beyond photography he’s already set up an independent music label, self-published two books and directed a film. Now he’s on the up and up in street photography and we figured we’d find out how he set himself apart from the pack and bagged lucrative freelance spots with the likes of Italian Vogue, Details.com and Marie Claire online.
Main image: Guerre, shot by Tommy Ton for GQ.com
So what are you working on at the moment? I know you got back from doing all the Fashion Week coverage for Marie Claire a few weeks ago.
Yeah, right now I'm setting up an online store with a partner. People would see pieces on the blog and ask 'where can we get these items?' so that's in the works. I'm also looking into prepping for some of the other upcoming Fashion Weeks I haven't gone to, and just continuing what I do!
How long have you been shooting?
For about three years now. When I was made aware of the whole street style blog concept I thought I could bring something different to the table, and that's how it started. It was just a question of expanding on some of the stuff that's out there - there's nothing new under the sun, obviously - which led me to decide I wanted to promote style over fashion.
It was about finding people I felt had that cool edge to them, people I felt others would want to know more about. To me that's what style is: that person who walks into the room and has people gravitate towards them and want to know what their story is. They're people with a sense of self, confidence and other different factors that I wanted to capture through the camera.
So you feel as though your creative impulse leans more towards style than photography?
Let me put it this way: to be honest I don't even call really myself a photographer. I only use that expression for simplicity's sake, but otherwise I feel that I haven't mastered the art or the science of photography just yet. To me it's like a guy who can't play an instrument but calls himself a producer: I don't think it's correct.
In a way it's an insult to a real photographer, who studied and truly understands the technical side of photography: I just so happen to have an artistic eye. I'm a guy who takes some relatively nice pictures on occasion [he laughs].
In terms of the photography, style definitely came first. When I look at the old site (Swagger 360) and some of the earlier pictures, I cringe a little bit thinking 'Oof, that's terrible!' but it's about an evolution and having the photography catch up [he chuckles again]. You adjust. That's what this blogging thing is about: you adapt or you die out - and I don't have any plans to die out.
Where does your obsession with the details stem from?
I think the details are the greatest indicator in any outfit. It's easy to go buy exactly what you see on a mannequin, and walk out wearing the ‘eye’ of the window-dresser. I think details indicate who a person is: two people can wear the exact same outfit, but it'd be the details that separate them.
How did you set yourself apart and land jobs with Marie Claire and the like?
You have to find a niche in the whole blogging thing, basically. What's the point in watching a new person shooting everything, when there are already so many sites that do that? One of my friends, who shoots Models Off Duty, does his thing in his own niche and I respect that.
Ultimately it took me a while to find a niche I felt comfortable in, but once I did it just came naturally to me. I'd say publications are starting to appreciate that street style doesn't just have to be a lookbook-style photo (which, I have to say, I'm a little bored of seeing now) and that horizontal shots can be great too.
We know you do editorial yourself. What keeps you inspired?
You know, I just love the art. I appreciate it, and understand that it goes deeper than one level. What inspires me is being able to pick up on different things without limiting myself. Before I took pictures I wrote, I self-directed and shot a movie, published two books and ran a record label that worked successfully for five years. So for me inspiration is all about evolving and adapting. Basically, that's what keeps me around!
How would you suggest young budding photographers get themselves out there?
Well for me, it's about the science of the art, you know? Just because you take a picture, doesn't automatically make you a photographer. It's about taking the time to study these things and if you're willing to do it and are good at it, fine. If you decide to move on and do something else you're good at, fine.
The internet's given a lot of young people a medium to speak, but the only danger with that is not all of them have something to say yet. For those who do? This is definitely an avenue to get things going.
See more of Guerre's work and keep up with his new projects on his site.