Living in a very dynamic, crowded, and historic city, Alphan Yilmazmaden is clearly a student of the people of Istanbul. He observes their familiarity, their idiosyncrasies, what one may hide, what another does not. Whether his frames are filled with social statements or warmth or mischief or love, one thing is certain… Yilmazmaden is an apt pupil.
I would call myself an amateur photographer. I prefer using small cameras, mostly ready to shoot (pre-focused and exposure adjusted) in a wide angle 24-28mm full frame equivalent, so I can use my time to observe and decide. I find that living in Istanbul, a very dynamic, crowded, and historic city, gives me unlimited opportunities in terms of photography. I try to reflect interactions between humans and their social environment, while blending in and observing the micro stories taking place. I believe street photography is about covering the details that are generally skipped. It isn’t about missing of catching something, but about really tasting life and relearning what it is.Alphan Yilmazmaden
WSP: What does ‘street photography’ mean to you?
AY: Street photography is a way to learn that human beings do not differ too much from each other.
WSP: When you are out shooting—how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
AY: I prefer to use the word “dreamed” instead of “planned”. This happens when a suitable light or background is detected while dreaming of something worthy to shoot under these conditions. I would say 40% dreamed, 60% instinctual.
WSP: Have you ever had formal training?
AY: No, but I have participated in some workshops and seminars.
WSP: Is there any particular genre/style of photography you would like to learn about and try?
AY: No. I’d like to improve what I am trying to do now, Street Photography.
WSP: How has photography changed you as a person?
AY: I think I’ve learned what patience is.
WSP: What are your photography weaknesses?
AY: Sometimes I get very excited about a possible shot and end up spoiling it because of my excitement.
WSP: What do you consider your greatest photographic accomplishment?
AY: Some of my photos are hanging in the homes of some of my friends.
WSP: Do you think a photographer must have ‘natural talent’ to become a great photographer?
AY: I think at the very least a photographer must know how to look at the world in a different way.
WSP: Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
AY: For street photography it is important to adopt yourself and settings as quick as possible to the changing conditions. I always measure the light in manual mode and set the exposure and pre-focus manually to be ready any possible shot.
WSP: How does black and white vs. color play into your work?
AY: I like to use both of them, in certain cases color is a main actor. In other cases B&W is more effective in transferring the main idea of the photo.
WSP: What were the difficulties you encountered first starting street photography?
AY: Trying to take photos of strangers at a close distance was difficult for me in the beginning.
WSP: What are some tips/advice you would give to yourself if you started street photography all over again?
AY: Technically: use manual exposure, understand the depth of field better, use prime lenses, and take camera everywhere you go. Apart from this, do not hesitate; learn better your close surroundings.
WSP: What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?
AY: I would like to transfer mine and my model’s emotions to viewers.
WSP: What advice can you offer for those who want to get into photography but maybe can’t afford equipment?
AY: I think nowadays most of the people have a mobile phone which has a camera. Also, a simple compact camera is a perfect tool for street photography.
WSP: Thank you for this interview Alphan.