The rise and rise of Internet-based sneaker culture has made it easier than ever to leak previews of unreleased shoes. Armed with nothing more than a smartphone and an Instagram account – plus a few handy connections – anyone can become a leaker. With sensitive information spilling from all areas of the industry, there seems to be an alarming prevalence of sneaky shots plagued by bad lighting, wacky watermarks, and downright shoddy sources!
If you're thinking about undertaking some footwear-based espionage, there are a few dos and plenty more don'ts... sneaker leakers, please take better photos!
Sneaker Photography 101
Sneakers should look as good – if not better – on the Gram as they do IRL. While nobody is expecting leakers to be the Annie Leibovitz of the sneakersphere, using Instagram really is idiot-proof. Open the app, hit the plus button at the footer bar, then shoot your shot. The screen will then show you exactly what fits in frame.
So, why are there still so many shots with important details cut off?! It’s the modern day equivalent of getting your finger into the shot. Take a step back, change your angle, and capture the most flattering view. Thankfully, Sneaker Freaker has a pretty comprehensive guide to sneaker photography for all you budding leakers out there…
Leaks can be traced back to someone inside the factories, or someone along the supply chain. If they're able to access product months ahead of the official release, surely they have the means to sort out a discounted smartphone with a half-decent camera. Even with digital imaging technology reaching incredible levels of clarity (in 4K-plus resolution, no less), it seems the problem may be with the user and not the hardware.
Sneaker leakers have it easy these days – they can do it all from a palm-sized device. Their forefathers pioneered unauthorised previews during the earliest days of sneaker forums (RIP the Sneaker Freaker Forum) using primitive digital cameras, SD memory cards plugged into computers, dial-up Internet connections, and countless free Photobucket accounts.,
Messy backgrounds are often distracting, and can detract from the subject – i.e. the leaked shoe. These new Jordans really should be the centre of attention, but who else can't help but wonder why on earth they've been displayed in what appears to be a ball pit?
Understandably, the factory floor may not be the most photogenic place to snap a sneaker leak. But at least move some boxes around or something!
Mark of the Beast
Watermarks are often used to stamp ownership, crediting the person who first created the image. Generally speaking, watermarks should be unobtrusive and not conceal too much detail. From the examples above, some leakers didn't get that memo. Much like a distracting background, an overzealous watermark can really take away from what could've been an enticing reveal.
Everybody needs to take some due diligence when it comes to sneaker leaks. Because they are technically unauthorised looks at upcoming product, there is always the potential of fakery. OG leakers definitely took pride in their work, however some of today’s leakers are flipping blatant fugazis as the real McCoy. You might not want to have a username such as 'repgod888' for example...
On that note, check your sources! A couple of years ago, hi-res images of a Fragment Design x Air Jordan 1 ‘Black Toe’ leaked online. Many took appearances verbatim, but Hiroshi Fujiwara jumped on Instagram to announce he had ‘never seen this’ and confirmed their fufu status! With so many self-proclaimed leakers these days, it's important to always triple check and screen for legitimacy.
Let's not paint all sneaker leakers with the same pixellated brush. Many have seriously upped their game with extensive galleries, gratuitous close-ups, and juicy angles of unreleased heat. Some have even gone as far to have their own swing-tags produced, so nobody can dispute ownership!
If you're thinking of joining the ranks of these brave souls, please try and nail the basics before going for more ambitious unveilings.