In a world of blogs, ‘NewYorkCityGirl’ stands out. Written by fashion photographer Anouck Bertin, it has a sweetness that’s missing from so many other fashion sites. Scrolling through, there is a sense of someone who is, at heart, a good person – not just some style junkie looking to score.
Her entries tell us what it’s like to be a girl living in New York, helping her friends through breakups, writing snippets of commentary that sparkle with fun, and posting pictures from around the world. Plus there’s the tearsheets she’s racking up, because she’s one of the hottest fashion photographers on the scene.
Working with such style bibles as Status and Nylon, Bertin’s quickly establishing herself as the go-to girl for sassy, 80’s-infused girly photographs that jump off the page and out of the screen.
Anouck took a moment to answer some questions about her work, her blog, and what lies ahead for the fashion industry.
The Fashion Spot: What is your background in fashion?
Anouck Bertin: When I was 17 years old, I moved to Paris from Mexico City, where I was born and raised. In Mexico I was pretty much cut out of the fashion industry. We didn’t even have chain stores like Gap. My mother was a model when she was young, and I recall being fascinated by all her modeling pictures, and the vintage dresses, and crazy accessories that she was wearing in the 60’s. That was my only window to fashion for a pretty long time.
It was a shock to discover that fashion existed at such a huge level when I moved to Paris. I have to say I got pretty hooked into all the glitter, the sparkles, and the pretty things going on around me. So I started working at a French teenager magazine when I turned 22 years old. I gave up accounting, and started learning most of the French designers’ names and collections. I had a lot of catching up to do. I was obsessed with fashion and working at a magazine was a good excuse for me to keep track of what was going on in the industry in France. But also it was a good excuse to have easy access to it. Yes I have to admit that I learned about the existence of fashion week when I was 22 years old!
After working behind the scenes for a while, I decided to pick up a camera and started shooting. I started shooting for the magazines where I was a picture editor, but I wasn’t given any fashion assignments. And fashion photography was my goal.
So after a few years, I decided to board a plane for New York, and that was a whole other scale of fashion that I had to deal with. I had to study in my room a lot more to reach the NYC standard fashion level. When it comes to fashion talk, it’s hard to pick up the pace when most of the designers you know are French. But in NY, you have to learn about the designers of all the countries, not just the American ones. I need to thank personally the person who invented Style.com, because it’s a real database for dummies in fashion!
TFS: Why did you decide to start a blog?
AB: I started my blog when I moved to New York in 2005. I started it to keep in touch with my friends in France. It was my way to keep them updated about my daily adventures being a New York City Girl. That is why it’s called ‘NewYorkCityGirl’. Trust me, in the beginning I had a lot to say about NY. It was a whole other world. I’m not pushing it by saying another planet. I had such crazy adventures that first year that I needed to write them down and share them with my friends.
At the time I was only shooting Polaroids. In 2005, not a lot of people had Polaroid blogs, so I guess I intrigued by posting them online. And then Polaroid shut down and they started to be rare and super expensive. I almost closed down my blog at that time. I was really crushed by the news. I mean, Polaroids are the best thing photography invented and I couldn’t believe they went out of business. I have hundreds of them, but apparently it was not enough to keep the factory going!
Then I discovered that digital pictures were not that bad…
TFS: When you write, do you have a specific type of reader in mind? Who would you like to reach?
AB: I started writing my blog in French, because most of my readers were French. I used to write a lot at the beginning, but then it became more and more a picture blog, relating my life and feelings through images. I thought images could say it better than my own writing. Especially when I express myself in English. I just write the way I speak, which ends up being a pretty funny weird way of writing. That is because I don’t speak perfect English, so I tend to invent the words when I don’t know them.
Right now I’m thanking Microsoft Word for correcting my spelling on all the words I’m typing – but Word is not very good at grammar. To be honest, I really have no idea who my readers are. I would guess more girls? I say that because my photography is pretty girly, but who knows. I don’t have a particular target for my readers, and I hope they all feel welcome. I just wish for them to find a sentence or an image that will touch them, whoever they are.
TFS: How has blogging impacted the fashion industry, in your opinion?
AB: Blogs have impacted the fashion industry on a huge scale. A good friend of mine who is a blogger told me that she had more readers than Vogue per month. That is when I realized how much bloggers have impacted the fashion industry. They became the new trendsetters and by posting daily so many images on the Internet, they have provided us with the biggest database. Blogs are an endless pond of resources for trends, brands inspiration, and magazines. The only thing that really upsets me about blogs is that I think they are killing the printed magazines. I love magazines so much, and I’m really sad to see them closing down, one after the other.
TFS: Do you have any long-term goals for your blog, and if so, what are they?
AB: Not really – I don’t have an investment plan for it. I have to admit I don’t like it when little bloggers become the big thing and lose a lot of what they were at the beginning. It’s sad, because that is why they got all the attention in the first place. But some of them know how to keep their style, and they are the ones still going strong. And I admire them a lot for it.
I just think it’s important to stick to your style and personality and not try to become someone you are not. I just want to keep publishing images when I feel like it. I need to feel free about what I want to publish. I don’t want it to become a daily weight on my shoulders, or feel pressured by anyone.
A famous make-up brand contacted me a few years ago to blog for them, because they liked the way I wrote. But pretty quickly they gave me themes and asked me not to talk about certain things or name certain brands. I just felt stuck with all of their conditions, so I decided to stop blogging for them. I felt I was losing my voice with so many rules, and going in circles because I couldn’t let me imagination wander on crazy subjects.
So far I really enjoy keeping it updated, because it involves my world and my daily life. I don’t feel pressured to blog everyday or keep it super updated. I’m not scared about losing readers or maintaining a certain number of hits per day.
I think it’s important not to force anything because when you do, that is when you start losing the quality of your blog. I have thousands images I could blog, but I publish only the ones that set my mood of the day.
Special thanks to Anouck’s friend Garance Dore for contributing her photographs.