Thank you İlker Karaman for being the honorable Guest Mentor of In-Street Monthly Thematic Contest, May 2019.
We are very happy to publish an exclusive interview with İlker Karaman to know his view and approach to Street Photography.
– Please tell us a bit about yourself and How did you start in photography?
[İlker] I am İlker Karaman from Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. My professional profession is an electronic design engineer. I met with the camera at my early ages. This one was my father’s camera. At that time, I was thinking about how my father’s analog camera is working. The camera was a magical device for me. It takes a moment of time and transforms it into an image. I can say that my interest in photography was shaped by this magical operation of the camera. By this passion of photography, I took a lot of photos without actually knowing what the art of photography is. I did not read about photography, history of photography and what is modern photography. For this reason, I think that the photos I took at that time did not carry any artistic concerns. After completed my university education and graduated, I had free time at the weekends. In this free time, I began to watch and analyze photos that were considered impressive in the photography world. As my ideas about photography began to form by my research, I decided that the photography is a constant search that is looking for a visual impact or beauty that happens at any time anywhere in the world. In order to find this, it is not only necessary to take photography at everytime, it is also necessary to watch a lot of photographs and to know philosophy of photography well. Therefore, I could say that my search for photography was started in the mid of 2015 and today I continue. Since the beginning of 2016, I started to be specifically interested in street photography.
– What makes street photography so special for you and what according to you makes a good street shot?
[İlker] A person in the modern world spend much of his time on the streets. On the way to work in the morning, returning from work in the evening, on holidays at the beaches, in the children’s playgrounds…our eyes constantly watching the public space and witnessing the lives of other people from a distant place. The eyes of today’s people are familiar with the images on these public places. Therefore, a street photographer should have a creative, different eye from others. They should use these eyes to show people the images that they cannot see in their daily lives. The desire for creativity and innovation is the driving force of street photography. For this reason, street photographer should know the past and present of street photography well. For me, from an ordinary space, at a special moment, to create an unprecedented original photo…this is the search for street photography.
– These days we are seeing so many great works of current photographers and masters available on the Internet and otherwise. As such, how can we try to be original in our approach?
[İlker] There are a lot of repetitive photographs flowing on social media. We live in the world of high consumption and high production. Creating an original photo in this world is very difficult because so many things were done in the past. To be creative and original in photography, we may search for an inspiration from other visual arts branches like paintings, cinematography, sculpture… The old usages in compositions in paintings may be a good original source for photography. The other method I can suggest is that we may try to combine the impressive sides of old photos in one photo. I mean that combine A and B and in the result, find a new original photo C. This may be another method to create an original photo. But we should know that original photo may also be repeated and consumed very fastly in today’s world.
– Tell us about your approach on the streets.
[İlker] I am looking for a little more graphic approach in street photography. I want to create a geometric composition with human bodies, limbs, and other environmental elements. Light and shadow distributions offer a good geometric compositions. Additionally, I use light and shadow to increase an isolation of elements from the background in composition. My camera is always with me. I created the “In Pursuit of Myself” photo series with the photos I took while living my daily life. I took most of photographs in that series in the neighbourhood where I live. I also like to work on colourful streets with low-rise houses. Low-rise houses provide more sunlight to the streets. I also love rural street photography, too. As I find time, I go to suburbs of the city and take photographs where the rural and urban life meet.
– Projects or single images?
[İlker] Projects are good way to express yourself with photographs in one theme. Sometimes one single photograph is not enough to tell the whole story. But I also believe the power of iconic single image. Single images are also good exercises for my project works. Single images keep me warm in photography.
– The important lesson you’ve learned being a street photographer.
[İlker] Always try to be creative, innovative and force your skills. This is the important lesson that I learnt from street photography.
– What advice would you offer any aspiring street photographers?
[İlker] Try to get inspiration from other art branches, especially paintings, movies, musics… Just watching photos is not enough to be creative in today’s fast consumption world.
Never hesitate, take photos continuously.
Don’t just try to be a good photographer, have a good personal character. Enjoy photography, do not put yourself under the pressure of competition.
– Your favourite photographers and any reference books?
[İlker] Alex Webb, Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names.
I have been Istanbul at so many times. As a person who grew up in Turkey, in this book, I remember the streets of my childhood.
Ara Güler, Lost Istanbul
Ara Güler was a photojournalist. But for me, in this book, there are a lot of photographs that can be accepted as the first examples of Turkish street photography.