Turkish Delights: An Interview with Mehmet Aytekin

There is something uniquely personal and romantic about the photographs of Istanbul based photographer Mehmet Aytekin. Like an exotic dream, his images are awash with preternatural suggestions of light and color and Mehmet's beautiful Turkish muses are like sirens from a distant era. His photographs, with their stains, scratches, and grain, could have just as easily been discovered in an old suitcase. Pas Un Autre reached out to the photographer to learn more about his inspiration and how he ultimately came to find his medium.  The reasons why he picked up a camera, as you'll learn more in the following interview, was a touching mix of happenstance and seeking of solace during a moment of grief. Read interview and see more photos after the jump.

PAS UN AUTRE: When did you know you wanted to become a photographer?

MEHMET AYTEKIN: Actually, I can not call myself a photographer, but I know when I started to take photographs. It was more or less 8-9 years ago, I lost one of my close friends and when I heard that he was dead I wanted to be alone and for two weeks I went to a place I spend all my summer vacations located South of Turkey. Even though I don't know why I wanted to take a photo, before I left I borrowed my cousin's camera and for two weeks – I just took landscapes. Since then, I was interested by photography and I'm still progressing...

AUTRE: Can you remember the first image you ever took?

AYTEKIN: I can not remember exactly the image but I remember those days just before I started to go to school, me and my sister were taking photos with my father's old analog. We were trying to be creative, we were trying different frames for example we were climbing trees and giving different poses to each other. I'm still keeping the photos from those times and from time to time I'm looking them but really I can not remember what was the first photo I took.

AUTRE: Did you grow up in Istanbul – how has Istanbul inspired your work?

AYTEKIN: Yes I was born and grew up in Istanbul. For me, you can not get inspiration from the city you live in for long. In terms of photography – if a person comes to Istanbul for first time in his/her life it can be perceived as an amazing city. But maybe because I was born, grew up and I know everyplace in this city so it is not that much attractive for me. Because it's a really big city, there are lots of places that I've never been yet so, I'm trying to get inspired from that part of Istanbul. Also there are lots of different kind of people living in this city and of course they are giving me inspiration as well. But to sum up about this inspiration thing, generally I get inspired from different sounds and colors and of course Istanbul is the best place for these differences.

AUTRE: What is your favorite subject to photograph and why?

AYTEKIN: In a photo, I give an importance to color, shade, light, model and space – that's why I want to simply reflect all in a photograph together. I don't see it as one subject. I love being minimal and simple. Maybe it is because I don't like that much crowd. Soft and pastel colors are giving me happiness. As a place, I'm just looking for a difference, it must be interesting. I'm looking for places to give peace. And of course if I feel something special while I'm taking that photo, it's becoming my favorite one.

AUTRE: What is your main source of inspiration?

AYTEKIN: My feelings, thoughts, tastes and my past... I'm mixing all of them and they are the main source of my inspiration.

AUTRE: Whats next?

AYTEKIN: Till now, I made shootings with my Zenit [an old Soviet made camera]. As a dslr I had a Nikon d300 but I wasn't pleased with it. 3-4 weeks ago I bought a Canon mark 2 but I haven't done anything with it yet. I'm planning to start take a fashion photos. I'll give particular importance to different clothes, make up and accessories. I'll try to make new shootings in style, places and colors that I talked about. I'm not good at taking a video, I've never tried. So, I want to improve myself in it and make different, beautiful and nice videos.

Explore more of Mehmet Aytekin's photographs on his website. Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre.