Where are you from and how did you get into street photography?
I was born and grew up in Istanbul. But I travel a lot and have come into contact with many different cultures and people around the world. This also had an effect on my photography. For the last five or six years, I have thought a lot about the intellectual system and creativity in photography. I went through my own photos and determined which ones were really mine and which I liked. This brought me closer to street photography as a style. I’ve decided that this is the type that suits me best, and that’s how I’m going.
I like how a lot of your images are very layered. How do you spot the layers and utilize them to make an interesting photo?
As a matter of fact, every photographer carries his entire subconscious with him while producing an original photograph. In my photographs, everything that I have experienced until that moment is with me. That’s why you can see the reflections of it in all my photos. All the photos I take are a piece of my soul.
Are there any street photographers in particular that you draw inspiration from?
Of course, there are many photographers that I love and inspire me including master photographers André Kertész, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Martin Parr, Joel Meyerowitz, René Maltête, Gil Rigoulet, Matt Stuart, Alex Webb.
Where is your favorite place to take photographs and why?
Istanbul is my favorite city where I like to take pictures. Apart from that, I prefer any place where there is complexity, chaos and a surprise factor in terms of photography. Delhi and Varanasi in India and Havana in Cuba. Essaouira in Morocco. There are many places like this. But basically, I prefer places where I feel comfortable and where people are not bothered by the photo shoot. That’s why I don’t take many photos in Europe. Actually, I can see photos at any time, so I can also take pictures with my mobile phone, anytime, anywhere.
Tell us about the collective you are a part of. Has being a part of the collective shaped your personal photography in any way?
I have been a member of the Turkuaz Street Collective for the last two years. There is interaction between members of our community; but production is always individual. Then we bring these productions together and share them as a photo series. Sometimes it can be an exhibition. But members of the collective have quite different views on photography. We have a certain manifesto that holds us together. From my point of view, although not in terms of production, it added a lot in terms of sharing. In other words, the people I could reach increased much more. Additionally, our first book was published two years ago and this book is the first book published by a collective in Turkey.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in street photography and how have you overcome them?
I have been taking photographs for more than twenty years, so I develop my own methods against all kinds of difficulties. As a matter of fact, if you can provide suitable conditions and gain some experience, you can overcome all difficulties. This requires some thought and action. Change your equipment if necessary, change your clothes if necessary. Be like a ghost, don’t disturb people while taking pictures.
What is your most memorable moment or photo from street photography?
I can honestly say that I don’t have a very special memory while doing street photography. My style is a little different, I want to live every moment with the same features and beauty. That’s why I need to prepare mentally for photography. I clear my mind and wander the streets as a non-judgmental observer. I take a picture of anything that interests me and I walk away. I only look at the photos I take when I go home. Until then, I can continue to take pictures with high concentration with my eyes and mind open.
What has street photography taught you?
I am a long time mediator and interested in Zen. I am also interested in photography. In recent years, I have been thinking about how to combine these two. I think Street Photography is the only type of photography I can do this with. So for me, a mental game is synonymous with an exploration and journey within myself. The most important thing that street photography has contributed to me is that it has developed my observation power. Basically, the consciousness of people is not very different from each other, observing everything for a long time allows you to see that people are the same, and the elements that differentiate us are actually made up of artificial and meaningless things.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Hakki and see more of his work, be sure to visit his website, Flickr photostream and Instagram feed. This photographer was selected from our Flickr group (Street Photography Magazine), where we regularly choose photographers’ work to be published in our magazine.