An Interview About His “Free Fall” Photobook
Interview: Şener Yılmaz Aslan
First of all, we would like to know more about you. How long have you lived in Istanbul? When and how did your interest in photography begin?
I have lived in Istanbul since I was born. I went to another city for university and then abroad but now I’m back where I started. My relationship with photography started during my college years. But even before that, I was highly interested in visual materials. I even shot a video yearbook in our senior year in high school using a huge camera and distributed the cassettes to the entire class. I did not study fine arts in college. In one class, our instructor Bilgi Küçükcan shared a passage from John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing,” which I went and bought immediately. Starting from the first pages, it made me question my own recording practice and I found myself within the intellectual processes of photography as I read the book. The university I attended also had a fine arts school so I was able to go through the photography section of the library in almost a year. Then I went to Germany in the summer of the same year and hit the roads with my first semi-professional camera. I have been taking photographs ever since.
When was the idea of creating a photo book born and why did you feel such a need?
As someone who started to take photos after a book he read, it was exciting to create a photo book because I had long been considering it. During a workshop I attended at FUAM (Photography Application Research Center), established within Mimar Sinan University, I was able to experience all stages of producing a photo book in as little as one week. Since artist books are available for all at affordable prices and because they are compact, easy to browse, freeing and intense artistic objects, I have the books of dozens of artists in my library.
How did you come up with the title “Free Fall”, what was the emotion that led you to it?
“Free Fall” was actually the title of my first big exhibition. It summarized my feelings during the social acts that took place before this exhibition, where approximately 60 of my photos were placed on some walls on the occasion of the FotoIstanbul Photography Festival in 2015, my emotions about the changing face of the city and the intense feelings that invaded me as I walked in the streets. None of the photographs I used in 2015 are in this book, but the same feeling has remained, just more intense now.
Did you take the photos for the book according to a plan or did you compile spontaneous photos and put them together?
I take photos almost every day. There were too many planned as well as unplanned shots. They were waiting to come together in the “Free Fall” folder. So I actually brought together the photos I included in the same subject.
One of the questions people want to ask about your photographs is probably why they are black & white and why you prefer night.
People indeed wonder about black & white photos and night shots. I work full time on weekdays so my me-time is from 5:00 pm until the first lights of the morning. It may appear that night is not directly my choice but black & white is definitely on purpose. I strive to express myself as sharply as I can through photography. I also feel the need to complete the narrative with some helpful tools. So it is actually about the pursuit of expression…
You created the book from the beginning to the end on your own, without any editorial support, so you actually “self published”. What were your key experiences, both technically and theoretically in this process? What would you recommend to photographers that want to create a book?
Yes, I told the story with my own photographs and design. The most pleasant stage was the selection and editing process of the photographs. You embark on a journey to tell your own story freely by selecting and lining up photographs for an artistic object of no return. Once you are done with the selection, you have almost liberated the photos! Even though the same photographs can be used in exhibitions in different galleries or festivals, you need new photographs for photo books! The hardest thing that artists face as they try to create books of their own production without a publisher is choosing the printing house that will print the book and trusting the printer. Technically, printing house is the place where the object in your imagination comes to life. My only recommendation is for everyone to keep on dreaming and striving to make it come true…
What about the resources that you think nourish you? Books, music, films... Which ones influence your photos the most?
My biggest inspiration is Istanbul... It is a city with different stories at every corner. Even when I travel to other cities, I find myself taking photographs influenced by Istanbul. On the other hand, I think I am beginning to resemble the city where I live as years go by. Other than photography, I write and draw when I find the time. I used to make music and nowadays I am also producing videos. So everything that is happening around me influences not only my photos but also my life and my productions in different mediums of expression.