“Suits” by Eric Kim

For images, click here, and here and here

I’ve always loved photography, but there is one form of photography that took my interest to a whole new level. I was introduced to “street photography” through a video on YouTube by Eric Kim a few years ago, and since then I’ve been hooked. Street photography is a form of photography that is hard to define. Everyone tends to have their own definition but to me, street photography is about capturing those beautiful moments in life that we often fail to notice. Those small moments where life becomes clarified. Simply put, street photographers go out and take meaningful pictures of everyday life as it happens in real time.

Street photography is very raw and very real. Most of the time, the subjects in the photos do not know they are being photographed and if they do, they’re usually caught off-guard. This allows the photographer to capture the subject when their most vulnerable, without their “mask”.

Eric Kim is an international street photographer. He practices his craft and teaches street photography workshops all over the world. He recently started a series called “Suits”, which is all about the men and women working in the corporate world. It reflects a time when he used to work as a “suit” and how it made him feel very unhappy and unfulfilled.

I find the series to be very fascinating because I hope to one day become a “suit” myself. I major in economics and have strong aspirations to work in financial services. What appeals to me the most about the series is that it reveals the other side of the industry that we often don’t see or understand. Businessmen and women, especially on Wall Street, are often portrayed as having very glamorous lives. The classic image of a Wall Street banker is a very wealthy man in his mid twenties to early thirties, with perfectly groomed hair, a fine tailored suit, driving a red Ferrari. Barney Stinson, from the television series “How I Met Your Mother”, is a great example of the stereotypical “suit”. They may be very successful but the reality is, their lives are very far from perfect.

I found the first image is of a man walking out of an office building on Wall Street to be very powerful. It has a very “evil” type of tone to it. It reminded me more of a funeral setting, than a business setting. The dark tone reflects the fact that those who work on Wall Street now carry a very negative stigma as a result of their relations to the recent financial crisis. They’re now viewed as being very greedy, selfish, and reckless. It’s also interesting to note that the man is faceless in the photo. I think that reflects the fact that “suits” are often just viewed as a “means to an end”. The partners of large firms usually never engage in personal relationships with their employees. They’re just viewed as things that make the firm money, sort of like machines.

The second and third pictures were taken near the financial districts of London and Tokyo. I found these photos to be extremely powerful as well. They depict the how “suits” may really feel about their lives. The older gentlemen eating at the restaurant looks very desensitized, probably from being overworked. I think his gestures represent the strong emphasis on conformity and obedience in the workplace. When he leaves the office, he seems lost because there is no authority figure to tell him what to do. I’ll admit, the photo of the gentlemen at a arcade in Tokyo made me kind of sad. I think it represents all the stress that comes with a their job. It’s that need to feel like a kid again. That time when they were stress-free, and only cared about having fun and being happy. I’m sure we could all relate to this feeling.

You don’t have to be or aspire to be a “suit” to understand these photos. Street photography can be a very emotional form of art that can relate to everyone. I think thats why I love it so much. Even though I have never met the people in the photos, I feel as if I understand who they are and how they feel. Eric Kim captured images that represent a side of today’s “suits” that we often don’t see or understand.

If you would like to learn more about Eric Kim, please visit his website:

 Questions:

  • What are your views on street photography? Do you think it’s alright to take someone’s picture without their permission?

 

  • What are your interpretations of Eric Kim’s photos? Are they similar or different than mine?

 

  • Do you think the subject would act differently if they knew they were being photographed?

Charlie Collado

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15 thoughts on ““Suits” by Eric Kim

  1. I do believe it is wall to take picture without someone’s permission, due to the fact that there’s a lot of issues of one’s privacy. there’s more out there, other than just taking pictures of random people, they simply can take pictures of everyday objects and still consider it to be a daily life.door me the suits are considered a fashion statement on Wall Street the photographer Eric Kim might have wanted his audience to see that there are levels to suits. Your interpretation sounds like that might be what he was inttending to do, however to what I was saying that the suits are a fashion statement and he probably wanted his audience to know that each suit has a financial meaning. In other words the more class the suit holds is the more money the person has in the bank. Here is an interesting clip of fashion “speaks” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIOFuKRhxQc&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    you got the right idea when you explain the first picture how it showed it had a evil version to it bringing the example of Barney from the TV show which by the way I watch weeknights on the U. the other two pictures might have represented something about how the man goes out to eat after a long day of making money and decided to “treat” himself out. While as the one in the arcade had a sad vibe he probably had the suit for an interview and did not go well so he goes and use his “change” of what he has left to play games? (I love to make stories to photos)

    As for the last question I believe your right what better way to capture real time moments then taking the pictures at the most unexpected time? A street photographer with people should be more like a fly on the wall. I came across this “guide on how to be a better Street photographer” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzbll3EiEdc&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    All in all great post!!!! 🙂

  2. I feel like I’d be really creeped out if someone was following me and taking pictures of me eating and minding my own business. Everyone has private and unique lives so I don’t know. I like the idea of capturing moments but I prefer of cute babies and pets. Cool post though.

  3. The first image seems to have a dark quality to it. The way the back ground is slightly indistinguishable leaves it open for interpretation. The Suit hidden behind the umbrella can be an honest person or a scoundrel. With the umbrella melting into the background the Suit seems a bit ghostly. The other outstanding feature is the building on the right side of the image. The stone is a sold and reliable base but, grey like an old castle or fortress. The address in gold letters gives a hints of riches inside and the glittery appearance the stone has is the same kind a treasure would have.
    The second image just seemed to convey, old guy eating an unhealthy meal alone.
    The third image made me thing of a grown up sitting in a chair that was meant for a child.
    Nice job.

  4. The last photo of the Tokyo worker at the arcade game really struck me. It seemed to capture the idea that his childhood had come and gone without him appreciating it. But we don’t know what that man was really thinking; maybe it is his son’s favorite game, or maybe he still regularly plays the game, and just lost. I love that we cannot see his face, which means that his true emotions are a mystery.

  5. Good job Charlie, I’ve always appreciated what I would call observational photography—photos of a regular setting with people doing normal things, leaving the interpretation of why the picture was taken or what is happening to the viewer. I didn’t realize there was a proper category for it in street art, but apparently there are quite a few new categorizations I am not familiar with.

    My interpretation of the first picture was a little different. The picture of a person walking out the door of a building on wall street and opening an umbrella into the wind says to me: even people who are made of money still have to live in the same world as everyone else and deal with the same problems like the weather or health problems.

    I would say people definitely act differently if they know they are about to be photographed, it’s just human nature.

  6. Interesting pictures. I think that Eric Kim has done a good job of capturing a lack of “joy in life” in the second two pictures. That makes me wonder if people’s perceptions of “suits” is different before and after the “Great Recession”? I like the first picture the best. It shows the glamour and prestige of the lifestyle, but interestingly you cannot see the subjects face….maybe that is symbolic of the faceless masses?

    I am actually in a photography class and I find it creepy to take pictures of people without their knowledge…however it does give some very powerful and candid shots.

  7. I loved your interpretation of these photographs. You explained your thoughts very well and I enjoyed reading your take! I love photography, specifically street photography, because of that vulnerability it captures and the realness it can convey. There’s a magazine photographer in New York whose job is literally to go around the city and take photographs of people who are wearing something interesting and trendy. I think that would be an interesting job because I know a lot of people who would not appreciate having their picture taken without a warning. It makes me wonder what kind of fights these photographers go through. Anyway, great post!

  8. Street Photography is one of those subject matters that can easily escalate into an invasion of privacy debate. I, however, feel that since we live in a world of a lot less privacy than ever before, there is no harm in someone capturing an image. Just don’t profit without proper consent. There is also a fine line between art and what can be considered stalking, but in a class of college students, I believe we know the difference. When I first moved to the city, I enjoyed going around town and taking photos of my new surroundings. It wasn’t until I developed a photo of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, over the Chicago River, that I noticed that in the intersection was a couple in full PDA. My intention was not to photograph them but rather the architecture. Yet I could not look away from their full passionate embrace and kiss. Suddenly my mind was riveted as to what their story was. Was it a greeting, were they about to separate, were they newly dating, or did they have a history. That couple took a life of their own in that photo, and yet they didn’t know that now it was captured on film!

    I prefer candid shots over a staged shot. A candid photo provides a moment of truth at that very exact moment, whether liked or not. The photos in this series managed to capture some of the everyday honesty of businessmen that go on in their daily lives. Someone knowing that they are about to be photographed will pose differently and purposely even if it is just to smile. I believe that we need the candid photos to remind us of what others see in us and vice-versa.

  9. street photography is a very cool type of art. I do believe that taking someones picture without hem knowing is he way his work is meant to be done. Like you said it shows them when hey are most vulnerable. Being able to capture someone at their most vulnerable time speaks volumes in a picture. It gives the picture more meaning and a true meaning.

  10. If the subject knew they were being photographed i definitely think they would feel better about it especially if they knew the reason for it. I know i would be confused and kind of defensive if some random person took a picture of me let alone when I wasn’t looking or not ready to be photographed. But i do have an appreciation for street art and think it really captures real life and portrays it in an artful way that shows the true fiber of humanity.

  11. I think he’s was trying to show that they put pants on one leg at a time just like us. And I don’t think it’s okay to take a picture of someone without permission.

  12. I believe that it is weird to take some ones photo this up close with out their permission especially if its something that is going to e posted somewhere. But if its far enough away where they face cant be determined or there are a bunch of people I think its okay. I think that if the person knew that their photo was being taken they would have reacted completely different and show less of how they really feel.

  13. I find “observational photography” really interesting, a little intrusive but interesting none the less. I’m not sure if I’m all for following people from different walks of life around only because it’s a slight invasion of privacy. For the sake of art though this technique generates some pretty powerful images.

  14. I love candid pictures. They are simply the best because it actually captures real life, not a fake smile or practiced pose. I really like the one of the man eating. I feel it represents the lonliness these “suits” actually feel. It depicts that money can’t buy you happiness. He looks as if he’s eating in a fancy restaurant but has no one to enjoy it with and he is realizing it. The one in the arcade made me laugh a bit only because he seemed so out of place, but I completely agree with your interpretation. Good job on finding these, I will definately watch the video when I get a chance.

  15. I think taking someone’s photographs without them knowing about it is not right. It’s like disturbing someone’s privacy. Especially with social networking sites, people put pictures thinking that they are cool or funny but they don’t realize that they are invading someone’s privacy. My friend got married a few months ago and someone took her photographs in her wedding dress and put them on a facebook page. Luckily one of our common friends saw it and told her about it she was so upset to see them there. I think it depends on a person but I personally would not like being photographed by a complete stranger in a public place. However, I do agree with the fact that a person acts differently when he knows that he is being photographed and the best way to capture real life human activities and reactions is to take photographs without them being aware of it.

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