The last couple of weeks I found myself scrolling down Instagram a lot. I tend to easily do that when I’m bored lately. It is not something I am happy with, because I rather spend my time appreciating the present moment of thinking of something useful to do. But I don’t know, this just happens from time to time. There is this saying that boredom is good for you because it gives you inspiration. And that is exactly what happened when I was surfing down the timeline of Instagram in my kingdom of dullness. I found the account of Aydin Yesildal, or actually, he found me. The moment I saw his photo’s I was absolutely mesmerized. He is able to capture nature in the most beautiful ways. He is able to inspire people, make them curious to nature. So I decided to (again) take a leap of faith and ask him if I could interview him. He said yes.
So first things first. Let’s get to some Aydin-facts. This amazing photographer is 37 years old, his favourite food is pomegranate and the book that inspired him most was Cosmos by Carl Sagan. There is no specific place he goes to when he wants to put his mind at ease. It does not matter as long as it is not a city. He can find comfort in his nature aquarium in his living room, his bonsai trees on his balcony, a seaside, a beautiful night sky or under water.
When was the first time you got fascinated by a camera? Can you picture that exact moment?
Well, it was 1985 I presume. My father had a beautiful Yashica FR II film camera with an amazing 56mm f1.2 lens. He shot me frequently. He once shot me in a ship, that moment I just can’t forget. I have that exact photo of me on my Instagram account. If you like, you can also check it out via the link below. Unfortunately, he died too soon, at age 47, due to pancreatic cancer. I think I am still trying to understand my dad after all this time, because I did not have enough time to chat with him , know him deeply.
What is it exactly that fascinates you about photography, what is it you find behind the camera?
Well, that is a beautiful question. I tend to think that photography is our life itself. Almost everybody is expressing their lives with photographs these days. They are not just art, they also are your beautiful memories. I can never forget a face or a landscape that I photographed, no matter how many years have passed.
Photography gives me a reason to get up, leave my home at 5:00 o’clock in the morning while all people are still in their sweet sleep. It also makes me fit by forcing me to walk or even run (fast) to catch the light in time. It makes me see people’s minds. It gives me chance to see landscapes, seascapes, nightscapes, while lots of people do not see them or do not even care when they look at them. It is my way of looking at things, a different way compared to other people around me.
Where did you take the first photograph that made you feel proud and powerful? Of what was it?
It may not be the first one, but definitely the one I am most proud of. I shoot both Street and Landscape photography. My Street photographs are in my Flickr account and my Landscape shots are on my Instagram account. This photo is shot in my hometown, Istanbul. I was wandering around with my camera on Galata bridge. When I saw this girl far away I thought to myself; do girls fish? So I decided that it was interesting.
Eventually it is a photographer’s task to find something rare and beautiful. This girl was both rare and beautiful. I choose to shoot people when they do not notice. So I waited at her left when she was looking right. When she turned around I fired. That created a pleasant natural look; her hair was blown by the wind. I just smiled and made a thumbs up, so she did not get angry with me. She smiled too and then I left. If you like to see this picture and more, hit the link below.
How do you express yourself through photography?
I was influenced by Ara Güler, Yannick Delafoge and Sebastio Salgado. I started by shooting streets. I don’t shoot city buildings, roads, bridges as subjects, I rather use them as my background. I like to focus on humans. Try to catch their expressions, their minds. What makes us human is our expressions and mimics . Eyes are the gate to soul. So I seek souls. A photographer not only expresses what he sees, he actually expresses what he feels . Photos are a way to say “This is how I see and feel”.
Also, sometimes people ask me what camera I use, what my settings are etc. My answer to these kind of questions always is: “Do you ask a writer what kind of typewriter he or she uses?” What I want to make clear is that the camera is just a tool. I would love people to not focus on tools. Just focus on subjects, light and decisive moments.
Can you say you do what you love and love what you do, that you are living the life you once dreamed of?
Yes, in general I live a life that I am happy with. There are no regrets up to now. I want to die with a feeling that I accomplished what I had planned. Any target, whether easily reachable or not, makes me go on. Without any plan I would lose meaning of life.
What is the message/lifequote/wisdom you want to tell people today?
Okay, this is a good one. Write down thousands of 0’s: like “000000000000000….”. If you do not add any number in front of it, you’ve got 0 at hand. If you add 1 in front it becomes “1000000000000”. Now you are rich.
Think of that “1” as your “health”. Without it, you would be zero. So take care of yourself first. Then enjoy whatever you do . “Joys” are all the zeros that follow. I wish you health and joy.
Aydin, I want to thank you for your amazingly inspiring words. Your genuine story from the bottom of your heart. I wish you all the best and I hope you may touch a lot of people’s souls with your photography.