The other day I had he pleasure of meeting the photographer Ed Suter via email. He has just recently published a very cool local book that represents the diverse, unique and colourful South African street fashion that is being seen and appreciated more and more these days.
Ed is launching this exciting book at Exclusive Books on Wednesday the 26th September and then exhibiting the prints at Exposure Gallery on Juta Street, Braamfontein on Thursday 27th at 6pm. You should definitely go check it out, I think it’s an awesome showcase of the colour and spirit that is South Africa and is (in Ed’s own words) a celebration of our streets and the people who actually walk them.
1. Where are you based and how long have you been taking photos of people? I live in Cape Town. I went back to college about 10 years ago to study photography and since then, have been photographing people. For the “Sharp Sharp” project, I have been taking photos of people on the streets of South Africa for about 3 years.
2. What do you do for a living? I am a photographer, I shoot for a variety of clients: editorial, corporate and commercial. I also use my photographs on a range of products from placemats to notebooks which are sold locally and internationally. I have spent more time recently photographing for my design work, for my own products and on commissions for products for clients.
3. Which different cities/places do you represent in your book? The 3 big ones : Joburg, Durban and Cape Town – and Worcester (they had great taxi designs there). It is meant to be a look at the downtown streets so I wanted to shoot mostly in built up environments and feel the architecture of cities around me. The book is a celebration of our streets and the people who actually walk them.
3. How long did it take to collect all the images you used and do you have leftover for a volume 2 perhaps? I first started shooting the images of street graphics about four years ago then I started shooting street fashion for a magazine about 3 years ago. It started to become a project on the side, I just carried on shooting whenever I had free time for 3 years and then approached Quivertree Publications with the collection. The book is thick and crammed full of images, so I only have enough pictures left over for a very slim second volume but I think if I did another volume of Sharp Sharp, I would want to explore the streets of another African country.
4. Are people more than happy to pose for you or are they a bit apprehensive? Most were, I think that most of the people who I photographed have given some thought to what they are wearing so they were flattered to be stopped and photographed. But there were people who said no and I didn’t try to twist their arm because I learnt early on that if someone had to be coerced into being photographed, it never made for a picture I was happy with. You know, they would have that sort of pained excruciating expression, wishing it would be over! I wanted the pictures to show people at their best with an air of confidence about them not like they would rather be anywhere else.
5. Who was the most stylish person you encountered? (can you include a pic of them) Like everything, style is a matter of opinion but I love this picture of the guy against the red wall. There is something so brilliantly South African about his look, a combination of the traditional and his own sense of style. His self possession and attitude are clear and I was trying to capture his attitude as much as his style.
6. Do you like to dress up yourself, is fashion important to you or do you just like documenting it? Great question, no one has asked about my style before! Hmmm, I do like to dress well but no one has ever stopped me in the street to photograph my style! I’m not a Crocs and track suit pants kind of guy. I love documenting it not only for the fashion aspect but also to try and bring across something more about the person.I would love to shoot more fashion though, maybe this book will lead to more of that.
7. Can anyone come to the launches and if they can’t make that, where can they buy your book? Yes, please come along – there is one at Exclusives Books, Melrose Arch at 6pm on Wednesday 26th. Then a launch plus a small Sharp Sharp exhibition at Exposure Gallery on Juta Street, Braamfontein on Thursday 27th at 6pm . The book is available at all good book shops and especially at Exclusives Books and Exposure.But it is also sold at CNA, Big Blue, The Book Lounge and many others.
Thanks so much Ed and great work my friend!