Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in Digital Issue V.
Austin’s lively blend of cultures and style grabbed a University of Texas at Austin graduate’s curiosity and inspired her to share it with the world. Shelley Neuman decided to combine her background in photojournalism and her love of style to start a photography-based Austin street style blog, ATX Street Style. With a camera in hand, she searches for the most individual people and styles in the city’s eclectic streets.
Story by Jasmine Valencia
Photos by Sarah Jasmine Montgomery
Neuman had just graduated from UT with a degree in photojournalism in 2009 when she realized she didn’t have a plan. “My professors used to tell me newspapers are dying, journalism is dying and that was not comforting since we just spent the last couple of years getting a degree in that,” Neuman says.
She began photographing her friends as a hobby, but after looking through Tumblr and other fashion blogs like The Sartorialist, Tokyo Fashion and Tommy Town, she was inspired to turn her hobby into something bigger. Neuman began to carve a path toward becoming a professional photographer by starting her blog. Her work on ATX Street Style led to opportunities with local and national publications, including CultureMap Austin, Cosmopolitan, Refinery 29 and Teen Vogue. “Documenting style was so fun and then it turned into what I’m doing all the time,” she says.
The success of her blog, including thousands of visitors each month, being recognized as a “Blogger to Follow” and winning “Reader’s Choice” for the first CultureMap Stylemaker of the Year award, helped Neuman establish a notable online presence. Neuman started working with social media and marketing with Being Apparel, an ethical fashion brand that creates upscale athleisure wear for the empowered woman.
In Neuman’s opinion, people are in their element when they are in crowded or public areas, like the streets of Austin. She says a person’s outfit choice in public reflects the personality they want to express. “I’m constantly studying people’s style, so I tend to see the same things over again,” she says. She immediately gravitates toward outfits that stand out for her blog and for her own wardrobe inspiration. “I get the most inspiration from the people I photograph which is why I like to interview them about their style and what they are wearing, and mimic it if I want to,” Neuman says.
Growing up in the small town of LaGrange, Texas, Neuman never felt stylish. When she worked for “The Daily Texan” in her college days, she stuck to a uniform of tank tops and jeans. “Being more put together is something you learn after college,” Neuman says. Once she graduated, she discovered the prominence of fashion and street style through fashion blogs, and she realized fashion and beauty were just other forms she could utilize to express herself. She began experimenting with incorporating wacky prints from vintage shops and thrift stores into her wardrobe. Neuman says she can spend hours searching for new wardrobe pieces in local shops like Charm School Vintage, Prototype and Feathers.
Recently, after reading about conscious style and fast fashion, Neuman has tried minimizing the amount of clothes in her closet. She says there are trends from Fashion Week that move quickly from the runway, to chain stores, to obscurity. “I’m trying to invest in pieces that will last longer and [are] easily mixed and matched,” she says.
Neuman describes her personal style as ever-changing, but at the moment, she is transitioning toward a minimalistic look. Lately she has been drawn to monochromatic and all-in-one pieces for their effortless appeal. “Easy and comfortable dresses and rompers are my favorites, especially as the weather gets warmer,” she says.
Accessories are a style staple for the fashion photographer, and Neuman is currently obsessed with dainty rings and necklaces. The most recent addition to her jewelry collection includes a star-embellished ring from a boutique called Yes on Sunset Boulevard in California.
If she had to choose her favorite piece of clothing from her closet, Neuman says it would have to be her black sequin blazer. Fully aware that the eye-catching material is usually reserved for New Year’s Eve, she says she dares to find new ways to work the blazer into multiple outfits throughout the year. “I’m very attracted to sequins, and I love wearing them to fashion events,” she says. As a self-made fashion photographer with a significant online following, her favorite day-to-day pieces are simple, utilitarian dresses with pockets. “I like being able to just carry my camera around my neck, my phone in one pocket, and my business cards in the other,” she says.
Follow Shelley Neuman’s blog at atxstreetstyle.com.