Written by By Sophie Dunlop, CNN
New York-based documentary photographer Johnny Strides is a fashion, street-style and culture photographer who has earned widespread attention for his intimate portraits of regular people involved in fashion.
He first walked the streets of Toronto in 2009 — with a few exception — completely immersing himself in the fashion and culture of his adopted hometown.
“(Fashion) was the only reason I started getting around, and I really think the pictures I got from the city were better than what I got from the travel and the attractions I was in, because it just felt so right and intimate,” he says.
Fashion as culture
New York-based Johnny Strides’ portraits have been featured in “Queer Eye” and “Rev Run’s Hood Tour.” Credit: Author
After documenting more than 3,000 walkabouts in his first two years of operation, he began collaborating with film directors, creative agencies and private and corporate clients. His unorthodox style makes him a particularly well-suited photographer for this work, he says.
“The world is made up of people who think like I do, if you take your lead from people who are open, creative, and curious. They are the people who want to chase the muse,” he says.
Dating back to his childhood and decades as a photographic adviser, Strides has developed a personal relationship with people that he finds inspiring. He’s enjoyed that feeling a lot over the last few years.
“These people were my heroes and my role models — they continue to live lives and attitudes I want to live, and that changes all the time, but the connection is always there,” he says.
In 2014, he began shooting his own talent page, the Johnny Strides Subculture Authority (JSA). The community is now a dynamic group of people, whose street style is indistinguishable from Strides’ own.
“I realized the JSA members are still up there [in the real world] . I’m still walking down the streets of Toronto — the street style is still fashionable, and the lifestyle continues to look fun and fresh and hip.”
Strides rarely takes pictures outside Toronto now, instead opting to blend in with an individual’s street style, blending in among them.
“There is no one they are scared of — once you get into their personal style and identity, that becomes what you’re photographing,” he says.
Strides says he has no formal photography training, and when he took to the streets of Toronto in 2009, photography simply felt right.
“I felt like my purpose was photography, and the most powerful things that happen were inspired by my roots and sense of perspective.”