Through her sublime photographs of Black creatives at fashion week and beyond, Seleen Saleh captures diverse images that reveal the deeply personal nature of how we dress. A pivotal force in shaping ESSENCE’s Street Style coverage, the lenswoman reflects on her new book and decade-long journey.

While the doors of New York Fashion Week aren’t open to everyone, thanks to a host of invite-only events, the streets outside the event venues are. And that’s where most of the magic happens. “If you have great style, I want to photograph you,” says Seleen Saleh. “I don’t care if somebody knows you.” The photographer started working with ESSENCE in 2009, when she began taking images of Black creatives walking into and out of shows.

Throughout the years she’s become a staple in our street style coverage for print and digital. In March Saleh released Street Culture, a book highlighting her work over the past decade. “I was one of the few people who were even trying to shoot us,” she says. While Black folks have long been curators of cool, we are often overlooked and rarely celebrated for our personal aesthetic.

“It’s about expression, and that’s the one thing that’s so important about fashion.”

Saleh’s candid photographs show that whether or not we’re invited to the shows, we’ve always shaped trends and moved the culture forward. “It’s about expression, and that’s the one thing that’s so important about fashion,” she notes. Saleh is pleased with how far the street style genre has come. “People are appreciating our beauty,” she says. “The standard is changing.”

This story originally appeared in the ESSENCE May/June 2020 issue.