I met Sule, from Istanbul, on a workshop late last year and was intrigued by her approach to street photography. So, this month she’s in the hot seat and I interviewed her about her work . . .
How long have you been practicing street photography? – How did you get into it?
My first beginning was very long ago, but my real interest and self-improvement in photography has been going up since the last two years. It began when I bought my first camera, in 1994 which was Zenitt 122 at Moscow. I was not able to spare enough time to photography in this period since I had recently graduated from university and got a start in my professional carrier. My camera had to find its place on my bookshelf for this reason. I bought my second camera Canon Rebel XT on 2006, while digital photography started being widespread. I’ve used this camera mostly for travel photographs since I was working abroad and changing my location on 2-3 years of periods. I’ve bought my mirrorless camera at beginning of 2017, which was lighter and more practical before my trip to Thailand. It increased my interest to photograph. After that trip, I attended the X-Workshops at Fujifilm which introduced me with the street photography.
I realized that Istanbul has many advantages and opportunities for street photography when I started working with the photographer who organized daily workshops, long term projects and gives lectures at IFSAK (Istanbul Amateur Photographer and Cinematographer Community). For the last two years we’ve completed three different projects and held exhibitions for two of them. Within this time of period, I attended workshops on my travels abroad to meet different approaches of different cultures. I found the opportunity of meeting with expert photographers like Brian and took advantage of using their experience. I’m still continuing with two different projects with two different photographers whose are Fujifilm X-Photographers as of 2019. I want to improve myself in street photography with all these projects. I can say photography, especially street photography, is an essential part of my life after all.
What is ‘street photography’? What does it mean to you?
I’ve read a description about street photography once which was just simple and I really liked; ‘Street photography is the art of capturing life, culture and humanity’. Feeling and capturing interesting moments in our simple and ordinary life flow is a gateway to understand life and world around us. For me, it’s a tool to widen my limits, to touch different lifes and different people.
Which street photographers do you admire – and why?
Vivian Maier, Dorothea Lange, Robert Doisneau, Elliott Erwitt, Eugene Smith, Saul Leiter, Henri Cartier Bresson, Alex Webb, Tish Murta… I think they are all pathbreaking on their own style of street photography.
How would you describe your own style of street photography?
I’m not sure I have my own style yet. I can say I’m still learning and trying to find my own style. As an architect I like to use architecture and geometry on my photographs, It’s kind of easier for me. I’m trying to capture some minimalist frames with well known architect Mies van der Rohe’s motto ‘less is more’. I’m also pushing myself to capture street portraits which is the most difficult to me.
Has that style naturally evolved or have you made a conscious effort to steer yourself in a particular direction?
My first photography project subject was ‘human in geometry’ by chance. When I was searching for geometries all around the streets of Istanbul, I realized that architecture presents lots of opportunities to create it. And I also realized that my eyes were to tend to see geometry in architecture. So it’s naturally evolved I think.
What challenges have you faced as a street photographer?
Shooting photographs is not allowed in some of public areas such as underground stations and trains in Turkey. I sometimes face the interference of security guards and police while I’m shooting. The other issue is directly related with my personality. I’m not an extravert person, therefore it’s sometimes difficult to get closer to people for better point of view. Because of that I’m not comfortable on working street portraits. This is what I need to get over if I continue working on street photography.
What camera / lens do you like to use?
I’m happy to use my Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon 10-24mm lens mostly when I’m walking around the city for shooting photograph. When I need narrower angle I use Fujinon 18-135mm lens instead.
What’s your workflow and preferred post-production method?
First of all, I’m trying to archive my photographs based on where and when I shot. When I want to print it I make small touch ups on Photoshop such as light and contrast adjustment or convert to black and white. If I’ll use my photographs on social media I work with phone application Snapseed. I’m a little bit lazy to work on my computer
How and where do you share or display your images? Any plans to do more?
I share my images on Instagram (@sbaycan) and my Facebook page. Sometimes I’m sending my images to photography groups on Facebook to get some comments to improve myself. As I mentioned above I’ve being studying on street photography projects since last two years and we exhibited our works end of the project at exhibition hall of Istanbul Amateur Photographer and Cinematographer Community. I hope I’ll make better works to organize my personal photography exhibition one day in future. I also want to establish a web site to display my works but I need some more time for it.
What about the future of street photography – where do you see it going?
I can answer this question not globally, but only for Turkey. Street photography is getting more popular everyday in my country. I see that lots of lectures and workshops are being organized by experienced photographers. But unfortunately popularity doesn’t always bring quality together. You can see lots of ordinary photographs without any aim or story on social media platforms. I believe it will find its own way and general flow will be improved by qualified works.