Making a career out of photography, like any creative field, is risky. In addition to the expensive costs of equipment, photographers must abide by an unflagging hustle just to uphold a consistent income all-year round.

Street style, which contributes to some of the most crucial content in Highsnob’s universe, is perhaps one of the most physically and financially demanding subsets within the profession of image-taking. Faced with boundless competition, flight and hotel costs, ruthless Fashion Week schedules, temperamental weather conditions and assignments that require you to be on your feet all-day long, the life of a street style photographer, while exciting, isn’t easy.

I reached out to a few of my most seasoned photo friends to find out what it really takes to “make it” as a successful street style photographer. Thinking of becoming one yourself? Then you might want to read what they had to say.

To get a taste of what the life of a globe-trotting street style photographer is like, check out where they go during London, Milan, Paris and New York Fashion Week

When did you realize that you wanted to pursue photography as a profession? How long have you been shooting professionally?

Highsnobiety

I think it wasn’t an actual epiphany. I was working in hotels, and shooting people on the street and at Fashion Weeks on the side. The hotel laid off my whole team, and I just never tried to get another job. When I had more time to shoot and handle the business side of things, it just kinda took off and became a full-time (or more than) gig.
– Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

Amsterdam Fashion TV

I got the love for fashion from my mother; I was always surrounded by magazines since my childhood. The interest in photography came from my father. Street style and fashion photography in general feels like the perfect combination for me. When I first started StyleDuMonde, I was still working in finance and doing street style as a hobby. I made the switch to shooting professionally in 2012.
– Acielle, @styledumonde

Style Insider

I think I realized it two years after moving to NYC (which was around 2011). That’s when I decided to go back to school to study photography (I graduated with a degree in business in France), thus I attended Parsons in New York before dropping out two years later in 2013. I actually started working as a professional photographer in January 2013 – when I launched Bleu Mode.
– Julien Boudet, @bleumode

Highsnobiety

I have been taking photos since I was a kid, but it was when I moved to London and started going to fashion weeks that I decided to step up to a professional level and prepare for that. Professionally, I’ve been shooting for over two years now, so not that long.
– Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

Adam Katz Sinding / Men's Uno

I realized that I wanted to pursue photography as a profession about three years ago, when I started collaborating with my first international clients like Nssmag and Highsnobiety. I started taking street style pics five years ago, but I can say I’ve been working as a “photographer” for two years.
– Stefano Carloni, @mr_tuft

What was your first camera?

I got my dad’s Nikon film camera when he passed away.  But the first time I ever would walk around with a camera was with my Nikon D70 while I was in uni.
– Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

The first camera I used was my dad’s analog film camera.
– Acielle, @styledumonde

My first camera ever was a cheap point-and-shoot Sony, then my first “professional” camera was a Canon 7D that I sold a year later to get a Nikon D3.
– Julien Boudet, @bleumode

Eva Al Desnudo / Highsnobiety

The first one was one of my dad’s cameras – a Pentax MG that I still use sometimes.
– Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

My first camera was a Nikon D3000, which wasn’t even mine but actually my sister’s. Then I bought a Canon 40D.
– Stefano Carloni, @mr_tuft

How much do you spend on camera equipment a year?

That depends a lot on what’s being released. I always have two Nikon pro bodies with me, so when Nikon releases a new body, there goes $13K.  I just bought a Leica S typ-007 and 100mm f/2 lens which fucked my bank up quite a bit.  I love having lots of cameras and lenses.  It’s an addiction for sure.
– Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

Last year I spent about 3,000 euros. This year, we’ll see what new cameras and lenses get released. I don’t feel I need the latest gadgets. Photography is much more about having a good eye and being in the right spot at the right time.
– Acielle, @styledumonde

Bleu Mode

It really depends, but I’d say 4-5K worth of equipment, including film and processing/scanning.
– Julien Boudet, @bleumode

You never know; when you already think you have all the equipment you need, something else comes due to new projects or because of equipment failures due to the big usage we do. I cannot say the exact amount as it varies, but it is usually high.
– Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

It depends to be honest. I spent about 5,000 euros last year. In 2016, about 300 euros so far.
– Stefano Carloni, @mr_tuft

When it’s not Fashion Week, what occupies your time?

Adam Katz Sinding / Highsnobiety

It’s never not Fashion Week. I do New York, Milan, London men’s and women’s, Paris men’s women’s and couture, Sydney, Oslo, Stockholm, Almaty, Kiev, Moscow, St Petersburg, two different fashion weeks a season in Tbilisi, Copenhagen, Berlin sometimes, Tel Aviv, Auckland, Reykjavík and more. I am always adding new ones. I work about 340 days a year. Sometimes I like to sleep and go running.
– Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

It’s always Fashion Week somewhere. Apart from women’s, men’s and couture in New York, London, Milan and Paris, I also cover Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Kiev, Moscow, Almaty and Tbilisi. But when it’s not Fashion Week, I do shoots, work on the StyleDuMonde photo library, enjoy time at home or take a quick holiday.
– Acielle, @styledumonde

Well, I shoot some street style when it is Fashion Week, but I do a lot of other things also throughout the year. Street style isn’t my main focus, although it could seem that way if you look at my social media.

I shoot editorials for magazines and stores, lookbooks for designers, backstage during fashion weeks, more and more architecture and I’ve also been working on a special photography project for the last two years that should be ready for summer 2017, so stay tuned!

I also do some of the buying for a store in LA called Cruvoir and working on a bigger project that should be launched next year as well… So yes, I have no time to be bored – even when it isn’t Fashion Week!
– Julien Boudet, @bleumode

Between Fashion Weeks is the time to do the admin part of a freelance job. But I also work on other photographic projects that come up in between; you have time for shootings that require bigger preparation or projects with a longer length.
– Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

Stefano Carloni / Highsnobiety

Fortunately, I’m not just a street style photographer. When it’s not Fashion Week, I still have a lot of work; brands and clients will call me for projects and campaigns, etc. If I’m free (rare), I shoot editorials with a very personal taste and this is what I would like to do in the future. I’m trying to put street style to the side. I’m tired of it.
– Stefano Carloni, @mr_tuft

What would you say is the hardest part about your job? What’s the biggest stress?

The lack of sleep, constant stimulation and constant travel. Lack of time means you eat like shit and can’t run as much as you’d like.
– Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

You need stamina to be on your feet up to 12 hours a day in any kind of weather during an entire season. You need to be ready for anything. It’s not studio work where you can take your time. Having said that, I love every minute of it.
– Acielle, @styledumonde

Personally, I’d say the hardest part about my job is trying to remain organized and being able to work on a bunch of different projects at the same time. It requires a lot of energy, planning and focus. The biggest stress might be the deadlines – even though I am a freelancer, I still have to respect deadlines, no matter what happens, and never forget that the client must be satisfied.
– Julien Boudet, @bleumode

Eva Al Desnudo / Highsnobiety

Fashion weeks can be very stressful, so you really need to love what you do and follow your passion to actually carry on. We spend months non-stop from one city to another, which is actually amazing, but you do not stop during the day plus the long hours spent editing at night. When you finish one Fashion Week, you pack and fly somewhere else and start again the morning after.

The weather sometimes is a bit funny, you can be at -20C in NYC or under the rain in London, but I love it! I think we all do! Despite this, I do not think there is anything negative; photos under the rain are my favorites and the extreme cold in NYC offers a new experience (Uniqlo does big business with us).
– Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

The hardest part about my job is having to constantly work and fight the competition. The biggest stress is dealing with clients for the late payments, having to send them emails and of course the post-production. Some clients are really crazy.
– Stefano Carloni, @mr_tuft

How financially secure is your job?

I’m doing just fine. Let’s say that.
– Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

As a freelancer, there is no real financial security. The harder you work the better things get.
– Acielle, @styledumonde

Bleu Mode

Well, compared to someone that is employed in a company and has a contract with them, it’s obviously not that secure financially, yet I do believe that if you know how to do business and make your clients happy, after each job you will be fine.

As for myself, I have nothing to complain about right now, I’m already preparing my schedule/jobs/trips for 2017, so I feel confident about it.
– Julien Boudet, @bleumode

Any freelance job is never financially secure. But I prefer to do what I love instead of being in a financially secure job in an office.
– Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

It’s not secure at all, because I never know how much job requests I will get in the next weeks or month, so it is never up to me.
– Stefano Carloni, @mr_tuft

At this point in your career, do you have a regular amount of work coming in to live comfortably? Or are you always hustling?

I love to work, so even if I book a big campaign or money gig, I still love to do the free stuff because this is what I love to do. I never really look at it as work. Sometimes you are being paid well, sometimes you’re pro-bono. Either way you get to do what you love.
– Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

StyleDuMonde

I have a steady stream of income from several sources: assignments, shoots and image licensing.
– Acielle, @styledumonde

At this point I can honestly admit that I have a regular amount of work coming in without having to worry about how I am going to pay my bills next month. However, I guess I’m still hustling because that’s simply how I function and I feel like no matter how far I will possibly make it, I will never be satisfied. I think that’s the only way to achieve things you’d have never expected in your life.
– Julien Boudet, @bleumode

At this moment I have a regular income, with fashion weeks being a big part of it, but I am also doing little steps to set up a more consistent career in between. As with any other freelance job, you need to be always working hard, because skill is important.
– Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

I have a regular amount of work; sometimes I even have to refuse some because I have too many work requests.
– Stefano Carloni, @mr_tuft

What’s the best part of your job?

Adam Katz Sinding / Highsnobiety

Travel. I get to see so many places around the world, many of which I probably never would have seen.
– Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

The excitement of the shoot itself, the friendship of colleagues, meeting inspiring people and of course the adventure, because there is always something happening.
– Acielle, @styledumonde

Just one word: freedom.
– Julien Boudet, @bleumode

The satisfaction when you know you have the shot, especially when the conditions are hard. This is something only photographers can know what I am talking about. It is a very exciting job. Having the opportunity to be working every week in a different amazing capital all over the world is also fascinating.
– Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

There isn’t just one best part about my job, there are several. But I would say that meeting cool people from all over the world is the best one.
– Stefano Carloni, @mr_tuft

What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to work in the industry as a street style photographer?

Get your ass out there and do it.  Just DON’T cross my lens, please.
– Adam Katz Sinding, @le21eme

What separates the best from the rest is a good eye for both fashion and photography. Do your homework. Know which way the wind blows. You can’t just shoot everything that moves. Be eager to learn, be critical of your own work. There is always room to grow.

You really need to love and have a passion for both fashion and photography. It’s not as glamorous as it may look to the outside world. It’s hard work.
– Acielle, @styledumonde

Not sure honestly. Lately, the market has been flooded with dozens of new photographers every season, so you better work harder than everyone else or maybe come up with something new so your pictures don’t get lost in the mass of social media. It’s already becoming very hard to shoot outside of the shows, sometimes there are more photographers than actual guests attending them. It’s just becoming tougher than when it was when I started, and I’m far from being the first generation – they started 5 – 7 years before me.
– Julien Boudet, @bleumode

Eva Al Desnudo / Highsnobiety

There is a lot of skill required, so the best advice is just to be yourself and work hard.
– Eva Al Desnudo, @eva.al.desnudo

Don’t become a street style photographer, focus more on becoming a photographer.
– Stefano Carloni, @mr_tuft

Words by Nico Amarca
Fashion Editor, North America