There’s a certain mystic element that a photographer looks for when roaming the streets. It’s not necessarily being at the height of fashion, and it’s definitely not someone who’s chasing trends. It’s a sort of confidence and vibrancy that radiates outwards — the kind of person you can’t help but stare at. You want to hang out with them, talk to them… maybe even be them. They’re not wearing clothing to be fashionable, they’re fashionable because their clothes are an organic extension of their essence.
This ineffable quality isn’t something that can be bottled and sold at Bloomingdale’s, and it may not even be something that can be taught (although The Devil Wears Prada makes a very compelling case), style is a part of a person’s whole being. So it’s hard for Jeng to pin down why she stops and takes pictures of a few people out of all the thousands she encounters on the streets of New York. She just knows what she wants to shoot when she sees it.
These unexplainable elements are what makes street photography such a joy to look at. They acknowledge that there are some people who just have “it” — who walk around the world with a sense of cool that most of us can simply gawk over. As Uproxx prepared to launch our own Style section, I spoke to Jeng about what inspires her to seek out these mavens for her art, what draws her to look for beauty in passersby, and what true style means to her.