Turkey’s First Female Photographers

Turkey’s First Female Photographers

November 27, 2013

Today, walking the streets of Istanbul it’s hard to escape the whirr and click of cameras, whose lenses point at Istanbul’s numerous photogenic scenes. Both male and female budding photographers make the most of this city, which is known to be a photographers’ paradise. However, it wasn’t always this way. Cameras used to be the preserve of the wealthy, the professionals, and the men.


Yet some pioneering female Turkish photographers paved the way for today’s generation proving that women were every bit as competent as their male counterparts. Today The Guide Istanbul wouldn’t look as sumptuous as it does without the beautiful images of our talented photographer, Elif Savari Kızıl, and as we pay tribute to her work, elsewhere in Istanbul you have the chance to admire the work of those early frontrunners.


Yıldız Moran (1932 – 1995)

An exhibition of the work of the first female photographer in Turkey to receive formal academic training is now on display in Pera Museum.  Born in Istanbul in 1932, she travelled to London to study photography, receiving training from celebrated portrait photographer, John Vickers.


The photographs on display on the 3rd floor of the Pera Museum, curated by Coşar Kulaksız, feature scenes from rural Anatolia, and sit alongside more industrial urban scenes of 1950s Istanbul (a city you may have seen before through the photographs of Ara Güler) with Moran’s unique perspective.  Speaking of her work, Moran said “For me, the subject is the human being. I create a connection as two human beings. My photographer persona is never on the foreground. We meet, we talk, we share things. We establish intimacy.”


This intimacy is obvious in the looks captured in her work, in both her portraits and documentary style photographs that reveal a story. Some of the images contain scenes that haven’t changed in over fifty years. Women rolling yufka dough, fishing nets, copper coffee cezves, and fruits piled high on a market stall. Yet there are some scenes that give away their era, portraying the nomadic lifestyle that was still common in previous years.


‘Timeless Photographs’ is at Pera Museum from November 27 – January 19. Meşrutiyet Caddesi No. 14, Tepebaşı; P: (0212) 334 99 00 


Semiha Es (1912 – 2012)

The Women Photographers International Symposium  will take place in Istanbul from the 28th till the 30th of November and will commemorate the work of Turkey’s first female war photographer, Semiha Es. During the two days, 14 leading women photographers will participate in a program containing talks, discussions and screenings. It is organized in cooperation with the Women’s Museum Istanbul, the Gender and Women’s Studies Forum at Sabancı University, and Koç University’s Center for Gender Studies (KOÇ-KAM).


Of her career, Es said “I took pictures from Hollywood to African tribes, from the Korean and Vietnam wars to Ruanda incidents. My photo-interviews about Malatya, Congo, Hollywood stars and Teheran seen through the eyes of a woman have been published in Hayat Magazine. I have never been without my camera in my hand for half a century."


Running parallel to this in Sismanoglio Megaro, the exhibition space of the Greek Consulate will be an exhibition entitled ‘Second Eye: Women Photographers from Turkey.’  This will contain works by 25 Turkish women photographers (including Semiha Es) who have made their mark on the photograph world in what has been described as a quiet revolution.


‘Second Eye: Women Photographers from Turkey’ is at Sismanoglio Megaro from November 29 until January 5. Istiklal Caddesi No. 60, Beyoğlu; P: (0212) 244 93 35

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