Aziz Gökdemir's Archive | Art Gallery | An Introduction
Ara Güler - Dock workers
Dock workers in Istanbul.
Photograph by Ara Güler.
space An Introduction
My professional photography career was mercifully short, just one of those jobs I drifted into and out of on my way to wherever I'm going.
spaceI have, though, been taking photographs independently of that, mostly of a documentary nature. When I say that I mean I don't mess around with a subject for art's sake before or after a shoot (though I'm not entirely beyond that, as you'll see in due course; it's very hard to resist playing around with the software available today) -- and choose to emphasize composition instead.
spaceI like, and I think I've been influenced by, the Magnum school of stark simplicity, as displayed by the famous shot over on the left, by a Leica master, Magnum's Ara Güler.
Woman and tree, by Oryal Gökdemir
A woman and a big tree.
Photograph by Oryal Gökdemir.
space I should mention my father as another influence. I remember him telling me about this picture (that he'd taken before I was born, I think). "That woman at the top of the hill," he said, "she's the one holding the picture from tilting to the right, falling, if you will. Cover her with your thumb, and you'll see. I did, and it was true. Ara Güler's photograph uses a similarly deliberate composition -- and by that I don't mean "manipulative"; composition comes naturally to an eye trained by having framed thousands of images).
spaceThe way the workers mirror the sidewalk, and the way the whole picture follows a line of perspective, feels like a train coming toward you. This packs movement into a shot of guys who are basically just standing around.
spaceBack to trees and balancing elements. I was a little kid, just getting to know my father's new camera he'd bought during a six-month stay in the U.S. (The camera had been one of his few splurges; we were always tight for money then, and to compensate for his "extravagance" we would frequently cull exposures from blue-tinted black & white film bought in bulk by his hospital for medical use. (This explains the following three images' amazing grain and contrast.)
Bench with treespace He pointed to a tree one day, and said, "I think there's something special about that tree with the looping two-chair bench next to it. Why don't you take a stab at it?"

Man, bench and treespaceLater, I tried it again with a person, but the human figure was too large, and ended up overwhelming the photo. The chairs that made up the bench, it turns out, were enough of a balancing element thanks to their eye-catching asymmetry.

spaceI got it right some time later by bringing the silhouettes down to a pleasing scale. About the same scale as in the "woman with the tree" photograph, in fact.

Benches, trees, and a couple

spaceAs for my father, he has mostly dropped photography to concentrate on his reading and watching sunsets. I'll put together some of his best work at some point and post it here.

Posted: August 6, 2000

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