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:
- 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?