Interview: Photographer Yankı Sivrikoz (İstanbul)
Interviews / Stories
Tell us something about yourself
I’m a portrait and fashion photographer based in İstanbul. I’m also a musician for over 20 years. I try to keep the balance between them.
How and when did you get into photography?
Art has always been at the center of my life. And I always search new ways to express myself through art. At one point of my life, I realized that even though I’m not a photographer, I research for beautiful images of the great photographers and think about why do they look great, how it makes me feel something. And suddenly I feel the urge to create images of my own. My strong passion about movies drove me into create cinematic looking portraits.
What does photography mean to you?
I think it’s one of the fastest ways of creating art. When I feel that “hunger”, I just grab my camera… And it changed all my perspective about the world. I reailze that, world and it’s inhabitants are more beautiful than I saw them before I became a photographer. All the shapes, colors, lines unveil before my eyes for the first time. I feel so lucky to see that in my lifetime.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I try to keep things cinematic. In the movies, character’s facial expressions are very important. They can tell many things even without saying one word. On every shoot, the very first thing I do is talk with the model, make her/him feel something about the scene. And try to understand what I can get from them. In my younger years, I studied psychological analysis of people a lot. Now I benefit from it on my photography. If the model doesn’t understand drama, you can’t get dramatic pictures from them. So, it’s a combination of both what I want for the shoot and what they are capable.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Mainly on visuals. It can be a movie that I watch or a city that I visit. Sometimes even a strange looking shadow on the ground makes me came up with an idea. And music. It takes me to different places of my mind.
Think you in advance what you want in the picture?
Most of the time. I try to be as much prepared as I can before the shoot. I even have this ritual; I put the model’s portfolio on the screen of my computer and listen to Sigur Ros. They’re music inspires me a lot and makes me go to a sensual place in my mind.
Studio, on location or both?
Definately location. I find both other photographers and my pictures in a studio, boring. I think locations gives the pictures most of the mood. And also I like the challange a lot. In studio you tell the light what to do. When you’re on a location, it’s full of suprises. That forces me to be more creative.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
Both. I have a production company in İstanbul called Kafein Productions. That takes most of my time. But I still can’t care about money. Everytime I get a chance, I try to collaborate with different models to create artistic work. And unfortunately in Turkey, it’s really rare to get paid for your artistic work.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
I think it’s the time I shot the Russian piano player and song writer Evgeny Grinko. At that time there were so much tension between our governments. As you can guess, artists don’t give a damn about what politicians wants us to think or do. We came together at İstanbul and talked, eat and shoot. There were zero tension, just a love for the art. It was a good day.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
Movies and music.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
Contax G2! It’s a wonderful camera. Equipped with Carl Zeiss lenses. But if I have to choose between Nikon and Canon, I prefer Canon 5D Mark III. My favourite lens is 50mm f1.4 .It’s super sharp, fast and you can put some background in to your portrait shots. Most of the time I finish my shoots just with a 50mm lens.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Don’t make money your target. The only goal you have to achieve is to create beautiful pictures. Eventually people will notice you and the money will follow. If you constantly worry about how much you’ll make, you’ll never be able to talk with your inner artist. And never stop to learn. Everyday, I try to read an article or watch an educational video about photography. It brings me new ideas about the shoots and makes me a better photographer.
What do you think of our new magazine?
I think you’re doing a wonderful job. It has so much diversity. Everybody who put their hard work into the pictures (Photographers, models, MUA etc.) are in it. And I love the cover designs. They look nice and clean. Sometimes I can’t even focus on the cover photo because there are too many headlines or sub-headlines.