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The Sartorialist Talks About His Vintage Photo Contest

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Avid Sartorialist readers might have noticed a little something different going on lately on the blog by Scott Schuman: a sepia-tinted photograph of a woman in a pencil skirt in 1940s Havana, a grainy pic of a woman in a white dress on a motorcycle and an image of a bronzed, blond gentleman sporting the tiniest shorts imaginable. They are all part of Schuman's vintage photo contest.

Schuman encouraged his readers to submit old (nothing later than the '80s) photographs of their families or pictures found at a flea market, garage sale or swap meet, and to write a short description of the folks' style. The winner--who has yet to be named--will win a Celine inspiration book. The contest ran from March 24th to March 30th and the response was certainly overwhelming.

"I've got over 2,000 entries from all over the world," Schuman told me. "I just went through them all the same way I go through any photographs and tried to let myself feel if I had an emotional response to it. You know, there's one from Japan, one from somewhere else, one from Texas, one from wherever."

But the idea for the contest didn't come as easily as the inbox full of submissions.

"I think that when Garance [Doré, his girlfriend] and I got those Celine books, we said we've got to figure out something to do with them. But it's hard to figure out how to actually make it happen and how to have a contest that everybody can participate in, while bringing something to the blog. I didn't want to do a best-dressed. That's not really open to a lot of people and that's pretty judgmental. That's just not what my blog is about," he explained.

The idea came to him after thinking about a post he put up several months ago:

"I found a couple of vintage photographs back in January and everyone seemed to love that post, so sometimes it's just...you think of it and finally it clicks. I was surprised at the beautiful stories people wrote. Because you just can't make that stuff up. Doing blogs the way we do it...reality is just so much more fun."

Of course, there were some vintage photo party poopers.

"Someone posted something on my blog, a comment, saying, I just want to come here to look at just your pictures, I don't want to look at videos, I don't want to look at other people's pictures of their grandma and I don't want to sign up for a contest. But, you know, that's always the challenge," he remarked.

Schuman's latest contest, for which he will be accepting entries until today--so get busy--is based on Diana Vreeland's "Why Don't You..." columns for Harper's Bazaar. He has called for updated, over-the-top suggestions to finish off the phrase:

"Everybody can submit something and you it doesn't have to be about fashion. It can be anything any of us can relate to. I think these contests are great because they bring something to the blog."

The winner will also receive a copy of the Celine book. Schuman plans to hold other contests in the future.