An interview with Erhan Uçar - finalist of AAPA 2011
Erhan Uçar is an Italy/Istanbul-based photographer. He started to take photos at early age and found photography to be his passion and the way to express himself. He has taken part to several national and international photography competitions, with his work shown in group and solo exhibitions.
The recipient of coveted awards, he has also served as Jury member for Italian and Turkish photographic Awards.
Human beings are invariably the focus of his photograph. The artist perceives their presence with the same key importance found in holy books: everything starts and ends with human beings.
He works for different organizations based in Turkey.
Accademia Apulia has asked Erhan Uçar the following questions:
How did you first get into photography?
After I passed my elementary school exams, my father gave me my first camera, it was a Zenit. From that moment on, the camera became a part of me.
What kind of equipment do you use?
I use a Canon 5D Mark II and various lenses with a selection of filters.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your profession?
I think that photography is a challenge of the soul. Capturing the spontaneity of emotions is what I strive for.
For Accademia Apulia Photography Award 2011 you submitted an essay on the Sarıkeçililer nomadic tribes. What motivated this work?
Having lived in Anatolia for almost 1,000 years, the last of the Sarıkeçililer nomadic tribes are now being forced to settle down, a change that has left many of them struggling to survive. Their millennium-long migratory practices have come to an end.
I wanted to document the story of these Nomads of Anatolia, the descendants of an ancient tradition and culture. Between 2008 and 2009, I lived with a Sarıkeçililer tribe in the Toros Mountains, experiencing their way of life. I produced a reportage from dawn to dusk, depicting their social life during the nomadic travels, from central to south of Anatolia. I was eager to illustrate the importance of their traditions and cultural heritage. I was also eager to explore their feelings, perceived threat to their old traditions now coming to a close. This is the story of a conflict between tradition and modernity.
What has been the most gratifying moment of your career to date?
My first solo exhibition in Italy was a really emotional time for me.
As a visual story-teller, what do you look for in terms of themes/locations?
As photographer I need to follow the subject of my study during their daily life until my presence is no longer felt and their spontaneity begins to emerge. I long to capture that special moment.
Your work conveys a certain degree of compassion and empathy for the people and situations captured by your camera. As an observer and a witness, how do you manage boundaries between yourself and the subjects left behind?
It is not always easy to manage emotions that come to me when I take a photo. There is a perceptive link between me, some kind of tacit understanding of the condition/situation I am about to shoot. Sometimes I am overwhelmed and unable to shoot..
Is there a photographer past/present that you particularly admire?
Sebastiao Salgado because he always manage to capture that special moment every time. His technical skills are just second to none. In Turkey there are many photographers I love, but Ýsa Çelik and Çerkes Karadað deserve a special mention.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on an old traditional Turkish sport “Yağlı güreş”,“Oil Wrestling” held in Thrace since 1362. I’m still working on Anatolian migrants. In Italy I’m working on cultural diversity and migration, to draw comparisons between different countries, for example between Turkey and Italy.
What is your next dream?
I would like to take pictures of a world living in peace.
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
Learn the basics of photography first. Use your camera to find your way into your souls before you explore that of others. Your true photography vocation will come naturally then.
Remember, Photography cannot solve problems, but can create much needed awareness.