“I’m proud to say that I shoot all my photographs with my mobile phone. I want to -and need to- express “mobile” because I want to give the message that “it is the eye taking photos, the rest is just a tool“
You are from Turkey, but now moved in the Uk. Where and when did your interest in photography start? How do you see it developing?
Hi Paolo! Yes, I was just building up my photography and suddenly moved to UK due to my profession. My wife, Özge locally awarded photographer, was very interested in photography. We were in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, back then. She is the one who introduced me to photography. The real inspiration for me to start photography is my big brother Serkan: he has an instagram account in which he shares his photos -and takes them to another level with his literary captions. The feeling that I could do it as well lighted up my passion.
The one about the development of my photography is a very deep question to me. I can say that I’m happy that I improved myself a lot compared to where I started from, but what I’m currently feeling is that the more you get to know things about photography, the less you feel yourself comfortable doing it. To me, being a beginner and keeping that energy is the best thing a person can achieve. Of course it is necessary to know the history of what you are doing and the work of masters… however it is really important to have fresh eyes as well. I’m trying to get that beginner philosophy back again. Therefore, to cut it short, I think that even if sometimes I feel trouble, I’m on track generally speaking.
You define yourself as a “wanna be a street mobile photographer”. Where does the necessity to specify “mobile” come from? How do you feel mobile photography has modified photography itself?
I’m proud to say that I shoot all my photographs with my mobile phone. I want to -and need to- express “mobile” because I want to give the message that “it is the eye taking photos, the rest is just a tool”. You do not need to have expensive gears to shoot.
What I really do not like is the fact that all mobile photographers have fallen into the editing trap. They edit their photos dramatically (even to the level of manipulation). I do not want mobile photography to be perceived as heavy editing. That is why I emphasize “mobile” People are generally surprised to know that my gallery is full of mobile shots. This somehow makes me happy…
Especially for street photography you should always be ready in case you run into a good scene in the street. Since our mobile phones are always with us, they increase the chances to capture the moment you want. Due to my profession I spend the most of my day at work. I even took some of my favorite photographs where I work… It would be weird if I had my DSLR camera with me, but nobody even understand you are photographing when you shoot with your mobile. If I had to take all the shots with a DSLR, probably I could not have taken 90% of my photos since my camera would not be with me when I saw that scene. Last thing to say about this topic is that I’m really happy that mobile phone companies invest in their cameras and sponsor street photographers these days. Many famous street photographers, like Tavepong Pratoomwong to name one, are closely working with mobile phone brands which shows us, I think, how mobile photography is modifying and affecting photography itself.
Perspective, light framing, and amazing shadows come with a great work of research, I guess. On what basis do you choose places? What are the recurring aesthetics you search for?
The funny thing about my photography is that I do it during my daily activities, even at work. I do not specifically go out and try to shoot. However, what I always do is to scan my environment for something interesting or eye catching…it is a kind of full time photographing for me! When I see light and something to obstruct or reflect it, I feel like shooting there. In other words, If there is light, there is shadow, and it eventually catches my attention.
Of course there are some advantageous places where it is easy to shoot good photos, but I do not want my street photography to be dependant on them. I think this is the beauty of street photography: you can do it everywhere!
If you look at my gallery on Instagram, the most recurring thing is shadows. In general I’m in pursuit of visually pleasing scenes but obviously I find them with shadows. The geometry and good composition are a “must to have” for me, and shadows are the cherry on the cake!
The great Sam Abell said: “Essentially what photography is is life lit up.” What do you think about it? I see something of your style in this statement…how do you go after it in your photography?
I couldn’t agree more. I think that as photographers we are the light sources of humanity. The world we live in is in a complete darkness, nobody sees it before we light up the scene. And as a photographer, or light source let’s say, I should be unique in the way I light up that scene. I always try to achieve uniqueness in my photographs. Of course at the beginning I took shots that were very similar to those of good photographers or masters. However these days, even if it is a simple/easy shot, I try to add something more to it.
To share my thoughts technically on this topic, I always read that photography is all about knowing the light and treating it right. I am personally still trying to learn the various states of light and therefore still not know how to use it completely. I hope that one day I really can learn how to use and treat the light!
Being featured by Apple…how does that feel?
It was very exciting. The more people see and appreciate my work, the more happy I am. Hence, Apple’s feature was a good way to reach a high number of people. Apart from that, being featured by commercially strong brand gave me also some confidence and made me dream for more. I’m still trying to be featured by them again, while also hoping to be commissioned for projects in the future. Having said that, recently I won special Jury Prize on OPPO See Beyond Creators Awards 2019. This is much much more a bigger achievement than the Apple featuring I think…and it made me far more happy.
An artist you have been influenced by?
When I’m asked this question, I always think of İlker Karaman first. (There is no need to mention old masters since they are very well known already.) At the beginning of my photography journey, I was influenced by İlker’s techniques and style first. But nowadays his personality impresses me more. When we have a chance to talk, he always says that being a good photographer is not enough: anyone who deeply wants it, can be a good photographer. However you should also have a good personality. You should be a good photographer and a good person at the same time…that is the hard thing. Nowadays, as I observe the street photography community, I understand what he really means. I want to thank him again for giving so much of himself to elevate Turkish street photography and for being there for whoever needs a hand.
Apart from İlker, I closely follow these artists work: Tavepong Pratoomwong, Gustavo Minas, Jeffrey M Karp, Stuart Paton, Serkan Tekin, Pau Buscato and Iraklis Htakat.
Next and upcoming projects?
I’m now working on two series which are named as “I got your back” and “ Line up” . The first one is more about my work on shadows. After I realized that I unintentionally shot similar photos I decided to build a serie about it. I’m excited for both… however “Line up” excites me more since it is a little bit different and more of a compositional project.
I’m not sure if it can be called project, but I’m now trying to create a portfolio so that I can show brands like OPPO and Apple in order to work with them. There are ambassadors for camera brands, why not having an ambassador for a mobile camera brand? This is the first “big” goal/project for me. I hope I can make it happen. After that, I will be aiming higher both commercially and academically.
Credits: Kağan Baştimar
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