Hakan Biyiklioglu is a street photographer from Istanbul, Turkey. He started photography when he was 19 years old with his father’s Yashica camera, but there were 20+ years big gap after that. Now again he started his passion in street photography. His main profession is SaaS R&D Manager in Mikro Software Company, Istanbul.
In his words about learning through photography over the years “Besides the artistic aspects, photography teaches you the most important value: Respect for others’ lives. When you start to photograph, you realize. You realize the lives around you. People look different, move different and believe differently than you. This reflects in your shots. You start to witness that more closely. Eventually, you accept the fact that people have their own choices and values. You touch this fact and people start to touch you just by appearing in your frames.”
Such an inspiring interview. Thanks, Hakan for accepting our invite. Please read on…
Hi Hakan, thank you for joining us here today! First of all, Could you please introduce yourself?
Hello to all the readers and I must say that I am really happy to be here. I am Hakan, born and lived in Istanbul, Turkey. I have 3 kids, ages 22, 14 and 14, and the oldest living with me. I graduated from Computer Science, Southeast Missouri State.
Please share some of your childhood memories towards the art?
Of course, when I was a kid the internet was out of the question. We did not have much chance to see art around us. Today’s kids are so lucky about that. They grow up surrounded by art. I do not recall exactly but I think the first piece of art I saw was a replica of Sunrise by Claude Monet. The colors, the minimalistic silhouettes, and serenity drew me into it.
When did you start shooting and how did this love for photography happen?
I started shooting when I was 19. It all started by discovering my father’s Yashica body and lens in the house and asking myself, “how does this work?” Started shooting some travel photos and portraits with friends and soon it evolved into artistic approaches, followed by the love of black and white. I did not have a dark room of my own. At the time, I did not have the opportunity, unfortunately. When I was 22, I went to Missouri, the USA for university and it was the start for the big gap in my photography. Marriage, kids, and work followed the graduation and photography did not have the chance to surface for another 20+ years. But you know, true love eventually surfaces 🙂
What makes street photography so special for you?
Definitely its natural stage. Life flows in it. Millions of scenes and frames stream in it. It is like a giant river of art. When I go out on the streets for shooting, it feels like leaving myself into the current of that river. All I have to do is “see”, knowing that a shadow, a piece of light, a silhouette or a hidden geometry will reveal an ordinary street spot’s beauty. Aesthetics and beauty are all around us. Our paths cross with them. When you learn to see, those paths start to cross more often. It becomes a growing river and growing current in it.
You are from Istanbul, a few words about your city and culture?
Yes, I was born in Istanbul. I lived most of my life here. I love this city, there is no doubt about it. Except sometimes I have the dilemma: Do I love this city because I was born into it? Or is it really beautiful? I go for the first answer when I deal with too much traffic and chaos 🙂 Well, not too often. Although it is a difficult city to survive in, Istanbul is a huge cultural mosaic. After the 1970s, people migrated here for job opportunities from all over Turkey. Its culture evolves by the second, giving us the perfect environment for street photography. Especially the historical peninsula is the ultimate stage for that.
What is that you have adhered and learned through photography over the years?
This is a very good question actually. Besides the artistic aspects, photography teaches you the most important value: Respect for others’ lives. When you start to photograph, you realize. You realize the lives around you. People look different, move different and believe differently than you. This reflects in your shots. You start to witness that more closely. Eventually, you accept the fact that people have their own choices and values. You touch this fact and people start to touch you just by appearing in your frames.
What is a good photograph for you?
I think I have given this a lot of thought from time to time. There are so many things that define a good photograph. Some of these things are common and some are subjective. I would say that a good photograph is the one that changes your facial expression, even slightly, when you look at it. You smile, you frown, you sigh, your eyes grow bigger, your head tilts back slightly and so on. This is because the photograph manages to reflect a feeling towards you.
Could you please share one or two photographs from your portfolio and the story behind it?
Every photograph certainly has its own story. When I look at one of my photographs, I do remember that moment, with most of its details. I remember how I felt, what happened around me and how I clicked the shutter. The one with the black cat is among the special ones though. I was shooting a moody scene by the seaside rocks in Kadıköy. It was a cloudy day with a dramatic sky. There was a guy sitting in a distance and I was going to make him the minimalistic subject. Suddenly this cute black cat pops in front of me, from among the big rocks. Almost posing and telling me to shoot its portrait 🙂 It stayed there for a few seconds and ran. It was one of my photographs that is featured on SPi Instagram page.
What do you do to keep motivated, and not lose your passion for photography?
I believe that after a certain point it is impossible to lose the passion for photography. It haunts you and you love to be haunted 🙂 It is the excitement of possibility that anything can happen anytime. It is the hope and belief that you have not taken your best shot yet. Knowing that probably you never will.
Which photographers have inspired you?
I admire and respect a lot of photographers’ work. Henri Cartier-Bresson, İbrahim Zaman, and Alan Schaller are among these names.
What camera and lenses do you use the majority of the time?
For the last few years, I have been using Fuji XPro 2. I have a thing for the mirrorless cameras 🙂 I mostly walk around with my 10-24 wide angle and 16 prime lenses. I use 16-55 on occasions. I very rarely use a Tele lens. I like to get close to my subjects, be in the scene. Prime lenses teach you that discipline.
Any favorite photography books?
I would definitely go for The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Criticizing Photographs by Terry Barret is another book I have read with lots of enthusiasm.
What does Hakan do when not behind the lens?
Well, he is behind a computer screen and designs software 🙂 I have always worked in information technologies and my field is business applications. I have had my own firm and it was acquired in 2015, by the biggest software company in Turkey, Logo Business Solutions. Currently, I am working as SaaS R&D Manager in Mikro Software Company, Istanbul.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
If you have people around you who love you for who you are, I would consider this as one’s greatest achievement. It means you collected memories and people instead of different materials.
What is your favorite motto?
It is a classic but I find such joy in it: Today is the first day of the rest of your life!
Apart from photography, tell me about your hobbies and interests?
I love to travel! Preferably drive through places I have never been before. Exploration is the best feeling a person can ever taste. I also play the drums in an amateur band.
Thanks again for providing 121 Clicks with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Thank you for the chance to be here. They were all inspiring questions that I have replied with enthusiasm. I hope this interview along with my photographs can draw someone into photography. That would make me truly happy. Also, for anyone who wants to ask me anything, any info or help about Istanbul street photography, they can find me on Instagram. Thank you 🙂
You can find Hakan Biyiklioglu on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Hakan Biyiklioglu. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.