One click on Jason Jean s website, Citizen Couture, and you can see why it’s considered one of the most important street style blogs around. While similar sites showcase candid snapshots of fashionably dressed individuals, Citizen Couture reflects Jeans talent for more traditional portraiture though his subjects nevertheless maintain the look of flattered surprise that comes from being stopped mid-stride to have your photo taken. Still, Citizen Couture offers a more complete picture than its counterparts, due both to the deliberateness of the gorgeously captured images as well as the brief but informative text that accompanies each post.
Given such masterful imagery, it was a surprise to learn that the New York-based photographer actually once suffered from a debilitating vision loss, an experience that ultimately helped push him to pursue a more creative life course and start his blog. Here, Jean talks to Laura Neilson, a regular contributor to The Inside Source, eBay s digital style magazine.
The Inside Source: Have you always been a professional photographer?
Jason Jean: I get a surprised reaction when I tell others that my first career was tax accounting. I ve always had an interest in the creative field, but family pressures and uncertainty with my professional path led to a practical route in college. Photographywas certainly a lifestyle change for me, but with some planning, I felt it was a risk Iwanted to take.
The Inside Source: You experienced some rather scary vision loss during college. How did that affect your creative pursuits?
Jason Jean: It was just fearthe fear of uncertainty and possibility of complete visionloss that also inspired me to pursue photography. I guess when you re at the bottom of the pit, you start to re-analyze everything in your life. That s when I felt I should take more risks and live without regrets.
The Inside Source: What inspired you to finally start your blog?
Jason Jean: Ive always been fascinated by photography, fashion, and individual style, but I was distracted by the stressful hours and office demands of a public accounting firm. It wasnt until corporate downsizings from the recent economic crisis [that I was pushed] to decide what my next step would be. [New York s] Fall/Winter 2009 Fashion Week at Bryant Park arrived, and it was my chance to finally attempt to journalize this exciting event. I wasn t sure what I was aiming to capture at that time, but I d brace the cold every morning to live and experience it. By the end of the week, I found myself sitting in a caf, gazing out of the window towards the tent, with a sense of love and freedom that I hadn t felt in years.
The Inside Source: What kind of statement do you want to make with your site?
Jason Jean: What I get out of Citizen Couture is a belief that there are different elements that help evolve an individual s distinct taste, whether it s through artwork, culture, music, film, fashion or even looking at the way other people dress.
The Inside Source: What would you say sets Citizen Couture apart from other blogs?
Jason Jean: The website has been focused more on quality than quantity. One ofits signature trademarks is the portrait taken for each post something that can be challenging in fast-paced environments such as Fashion Week.
The Inside Source: What is it about this particular genre of fashion photography that really appeals to you?
Jason Jean: Looking at the way an actual, real person dresses, fashion becomes a living form of art and beauty. What s also great is connecting with some of these people understanding a little bit the style that defines them.
The Inside Source: Who are your favorite people to photograph?
Jason Jean: A lot of the editors and stylists I enjoy photographing have a style that, I find, is not based so much on trends, but a fairly consistent look that defines them. A fewnames are: [stylist] Catherine Baba, Joanna Hillman [Senior Fashion Market Editor]of Harper s Bazaar; Elle s [Senior Style Director] Kate Lanphear; and Taylor Tomasi Hill, [Style and Accessories Director] of Marie Claire.
The Inside Source: What are some defining styles/trends that you’ve noticed on the street recently?
Jason Jean: I ve definitely been seeing a lot of maxi dresses, from sheer to floral types. I ve also been seeing more colors and color-blocking. It is summer, so it s nice to see some colors besides black and grey.
Meredith Barnett is the Editorial Director for The Inside Source, a digital style magazine presented byeBay. The Inside Source writer Laura Neilson authored this article in its original form. Click here to read it in full. (Images courtesy of Jason Jean/Citizen Couture.)