Interview: Photograph Artist Mehmet Turgut

We had an interview with the famous Turkish photograph artist Mehmet Turgut after his exhibition“Rock’n Frame”

Why did you choose Kemancı as the place of exhibition?
MT:Kemancı is the most rooted Rock bar in İstanbul, and even in Turkey. So, if a Rock exhibition will be held, it would inevitably be in Kemancı.

Did you have difficulty with taking photos?
MT:Never had.

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How does it feel to photograph artists and bands like Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica and Slayer?
M.T: Well, it was a strange feeling at first. Because, they are the musicians you listened to since childhood. You can’t easily perceive that they are in front of you right now and you will take photos of them. Then it comes to you… you understand you are very lucky while you are working on their photographs on computer with their music playing…

How did you get in contact with Patricia Kaas?
MT: When Patricia Kaas came to Turkey, we wanted make an interview with her for the magazine 46 that I own. I have always been very fond of Patricia Kaas. I told them that I want to photograph her and they accepted. Later, when I showed her the photos we worked on, she said,”I’m preparing a ‘Best Of’ album and I would like to user this as the cover”. I accepted proudly and they made it the cover.

In general, photographs are mostly of rock musicians. As you are into music as well, could you establish a common language with these musicians during the shoots? Was it easier in this way?
MT
: Of course, I work more comfortably with Rockers. We have the same ideologies, we live in the same way and thus, I go well with them. We love the same words and speak the same language.

Most of the Rockbands from Turkey are missing in”Rock’n Frame” exhibition indeed? Such as Şebnem Ferah, Pentagram, Mor veÖtesi,Özlem Tekin…
MT:
 What I did was not photographing rockers and making an exhibition out of it. These are the photos of rock musicians whom I worked with in last 10 years. These people crossed my path in the past. This is why the exhibition advanced like this.

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You grew up in Ankara. Your family has been photographers for three generations. How did this fact affect you? In positive or negative aspects…
MT:
Yes, I had never gone back to my house after school. I went to the photography studio of my father after school, I grew up there. In fact, I can not say that it had much positive effect in terms of the approach towards the photography. Because you are already growing up in that atmosphere and at first, you don’t find photography that interesting. When I began creating my own language in photography, then things changed.

Do you think photography education is necessary?
MT:
I think yes, to start from somewhere. However, the accuracy of the education is open to question. Photography schools may mean a huge benefit to train technical photographers. I suppose the education will improve in time.

Is it about the field you choose?
MT:
 It is, as I’m talking about technical photography. But being a photograph artist is something completely different. I certainly do not claim to be a photograph artist. But people call me like that. So it means I’m doing this with my soul. A job matching your soul is a really hard combination. Things completely change when you catch this combination. It doesn’t matter if the work is commercial or only for yourself; you enjoy it.

Would you like to photograph famous people whom your father had worked with before? Such as, Muazzez Abacı, İzzet Altın Meşe…
MT:
 I’ve never tried it; but it could be interesting.

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Growing up in Ankara… Is that an advantage or disadvantage in Istanbul?
M.T:
 I came to Istanbul when I was 30 years old. Until then, I hadn’t experienced any of the bad and good situations born out of the rapid lifestyle of Istanbul. I reached maturity in Ankara. I created my language of photography; joined the army, began to earn my own money and went through a marriage. I did everything that brings a man to maturity. That’s how I could survive easily. So, that means it was definately an advantage for me!

Alright, what’s the magic behind your photos? Can you describe your style?
M.T:
 The magic is perhaps that my photography doesn’t have a certain style. But I can say I have my own photography language. A language as the result of traumas occurred in time… I am an emotional man. When you look at my life chart, you will see many rises and falls. These rises and falls have made up today’s Mehmet Turgut.

What was the aim and audience of magazine 46 which began its broadcasting life with the cover photo of Cem Yılmaz? Are you satisfied with the current position of the magazine? Has it reached its goal?
M.T:
I think yes. We established 46 as a playground for ourselves. It was a platform where we could shoot whatever we want every 2 months. But now, it is going very well from an objective view. This is something that may push me forward in photography. Doing better and different in every new issue is a huge advantage for me.

Do you construct your photos according to the person, or do you choose the person according to your construction?
M.T:
 I always have various stories. And I have specific body forms that I want to use in a certain story. When both of them match, I go talk to them and shoot the photos.

It’s clear that you don’t repeat yourself in your works. Is that a reason for artists to prefer you for photography?
M.T:
 There are some artists whom I have worked for 3 consecutive years for 3 or 4 album covers. This is biggest proof that I don’t repeat myself. If I apply the art photographs that I shot in Ankara in commercial works in Istanbul, I’d live 2 lives. I had shot so many conceptual works! But I always pursue a new, different one.

You relax people who got used to posing beautifully for the cameras with such an energy that their other personality appears. What is your magic?
M.T
: I don’t behave like a photographer. I am more interested in characteristics of that person. If you transmit a feeling which says”I shot this photo, I am such a good photographer, I am here”, then that person will confront you with the same feeling. And of course, I express what I have in my mind before shooting.

Where do you position yourself in photography?
M.T:
 Nowhere. The audience will do that for me.
And for the last, what do you think about the development of photography in Turkey?
M.T
: Photography is going very well in Turkey.There is only one point; all of the young people who produce photos have an interest in becoming a fashion photographer. If they can change their mind, this country will raise much better photographers.

Thank You so much for the conversation…

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