Koray Aykanat is a young street photographer from Turkey. Turkey is a very curious place for photographers as it’s the meeting point of conservative East and progressive West. His B&W and colour street images make you feel you’re there at the moment. Dark shadows and hidden figures in his images covey movement and drama. Koray is capturing mostly ordinary sights in the bazaars and streets of Turkey and his passion comes through his lens. You see a wonderful mix of the fantastic and gritty images taken at a precise ‘Decisive Moment’ giving a story in the click or snap of a shutter. Koray is sharing with us some details of his life and photography:
Hello Koray, tell us about yourself and things you like:
I was born in Ayvalik, a small town on west coast of Turkey, in 1981. After, I moved to Izmir for education and I still live here. I studied Maths at university and then had a master’s degree in Educational science. Now I am working as a statistician at airport.
My hobbies and interests are music (rock, post-rock, jazz, blues and contemporary classical), movies (especially independent movies), literature (Dostoyevsky, Boris Vian, Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan, Charles Bukowski, John Fante etc.). I also like traveling a lot.
When did you start taking pictures seriously?
When I was in university, I thought about joining photography club at campus. But it was the time of analog cameras and I was too lazy to working with numbers, even when I’m a mathematician. In 2010, my girlfriend and I took analog cameras for ourselves. I found that it’s easy to work with numbers but I was still lazy about film cameras. Then I sold it and took a digital camera.
I started to take photography seriously 2 years ago. Bought some books about photography, searched articles on internet. I learn a lot from books and internet. If I have free time at work or at home, I read books and look another people’s photographs. I think this process will never end.
So, do you now call yourself an enthusiast?
Well, I can describe myself as a serious amateur because my work has a priority. As I said, I’m working at airport, good public place for street photography. It gives me a chance to shoot at work. I can go out, observe places and people and take some shots.
Also I’m free at weekends. If the weather is ok for me, I go out and walk the city. At this point, I have a simple rule for myself. In a day, if I catch a single good photo, it’s good; if more than one, that’s great.
Why did you get into photography and not in any other art of expression?
Photography is a passion for me. You know, we need to fill our lives with something. I don’t want to waste my time with empty things. I’m glad that i found photography. Also photography is a way of relaxing. Going out, walking on the streets and focusing on to catch a good moment… After time, I find myself in a different dimension, forget all the problems in my life or in my country. That works every time!
My main area of photography is street. Nowadays I use Fujifilm X100s. Iphone 4s and Panasonic LX3 are my backup cameras. And I use Photoshop 5 and Efex Pro 2 for editing.
Your street photography is very impressive and profound. What’s your method of shooting?
Firstly, thanks for your kind words. I mostly try to find the scene first. The scene with good geometric shapes or has a good light/shadows or has catchy colours. Then I try to find a place for myself in this scene and start to wait some objects. When I feel that everything in its right place, I click.
If I talk about street photography, I don’t think it’s becoming unoriginal or repetitive. If you look at old-school and new-school street photos, you can see it easily. Of course, they have same basics but approaches are different. If you have a creative mind and good-eye, you can find new things. Street photography is open to do this.
Actually this is a problem in my country. The perception of street photography is different in here. Most of people still follows old-school things and its cliches. I’m not sure if they look for new things or open to new things. But we want to change this perception as our collective.
Here, you would never know, where you will catch a great moment. This is a trick. For example, I’m in Ankara now, the capital of Turkey. Last weekend, I was in most popular area of the city. Walked on the streets by hours but couldn’t find something interesting. I gave up and took my way to hotel. At the exit of metro station, I saw some people’s shadows on the wall. There was a good sunlight and the place has good geometric shapes. I took several shots there and got what I wanted. It was big surprise to me.
The city I live in is the 3rd biggest city of Turkey. Around 4 million people live here. It means that many people with different ethnicities and view of life. There is a big contrast in here and it works really good for street photography.
Konak, Basmane, Alsancak are my fave areas. People mostly have their time in those places, so you can find something around here. Also my hometown (Ayvalik) is really cool for this. It’s well-known with narrow streets and old style Greek houses. You can find good scenes easily. Ayvalik is one of the favourite places of Ara Guler (great street/documentary photographer from Turkey).
Your future plans, and sources of inspiration:
I wanna take better photos. I always look at other photographers’ works and learn from them. Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey, Gueorgui Pinkhassov are some of my favourite photographers.
Every photographer wants to be better and successful. To me, the key is “failure” in here. Failure is the best way to learn. I always try to learn something from my mistakes. I believe that if I know my mistakes, I’ll do it better next time. Maybe I will fail again, who knows? As Samuel Beckett said:
“ever tried, ever failed, no matter, try again, fail again, fail better.