Introduce yourself! 

So, I'm Turkish. I'm from Izmir, but I moved to Berlin, six years ago for studies. And now I'm a freelance photographer, videographer, and filmmaker, although that is starting slowly, mainly I'm doing photography.

I joined the event because I recently switched to full-time freelancing and focused on photography. So, I was looking for like, Okay, what are some networking events? I want to meet with, of course, other photographers, and models, but there are mostly networking events for like business people rather than photography events. So, to see this one, it was really like, oh, there's an interesting photography event with a competition attached. So it was my first time but it was, I guess, a really good decision to go there.

Let’s start at the beginning of your journey. What are your first experiences with photography?

I didn't have influences or inspirations or even a liking for the medium of photography as I was beginning, I was mainly coming from a cinema background and interest and I just realised that I am not taking any solid steps towards making my dream a reality and I was almost done with my study.

So, the last year, I just purchased a camera but of course, still like studying and writing the thesis, so there was no time for focusing on a big film project. So I was like, let's take a baby step, and Let's focus on photography because that is also a part of the job. I was like, okay, I'm just gonna focus on composing beautiful pictures, and then it kind of became addictive. I liked the beauty of photography and started doing it as a like hobby. And a way of getting used to the equipment and my camera and seeing as a lens does. 

But then things became more and more visible that I should start taking this a bit more seriously. Then I kind of started looking into it. I'm living near the library. I'm going there like once a week to check some photo books, and find some inspiration.

Helmut Newton is one of the biggest influences because it is really interesting that he was able to understand the fantasy of the person who was living in those times and then create that within a photograph. So I think, when you would look into his pictures, you would be like, Oh wait, I want to be there or like I want to live through this experience, it's inspiring. I hope to achieve this in my work but I am not there yet.

What does photography mean to you?

Just money making. [laughs] I mean, it's just like one of the main things that I can add is it is changing the way that you are seeing.

If you're trying to create a good photograph you need to learn how to see with intention. 

When we look around, we are not paying attention and photography made that switch for me. Not only just taking photos with your camera but also working on them continuously to make them better like trying to edit them, trying to retouch them, and trying to get the right colours because also cameras, there's no perfect camera. All of them have shortcomings. 

You still need to kind of use your vision to get the right image. It needs to still be kind of playing with the realistic harmonies of colour and light. And without actually paying attention to that, you don't notice or you don't know how human skin looks… as you're taking more photos and trying to make better photos, it kind of makes you look and finally see the world around you in greater detail.

Where does your creative inspiration come from?

Comedy. I say that drama and comedy are the, maybe it's not, but to me, the two categories that everything falls into. They encapsulate everything that goes on on our planet, in our lives and our universe.

Of course, it's not black and white. Nothing is fully dramatic and nothing is fully comedic, they are interrelated but the main difference is hope. We all have this one main defect as human beings, as we all know that life is going to end at some point and we are all helpless to solve this. 

And this is the main dynamic of a comedic story, if you have a problem that you are not able to solve, but you still have hope, that creates comedy. I'm not talking about slapstick. I'm more talking about like how are these people, even though they don't know how to do things, are still finding the motivation to go out and do that.

Yes, it is funny. To just go back to my story as an example, I don't have any interest in photography, I wanna be a filmmaker, so let's take some photos. That is a comedic story inherently because I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm still doing it because I have hope that it's gonna work out. Am I a better filmmaker today because I started taking photos? Well, not yet at least, right? [laughs] It ended in something completely different and that is comedic. 

I kind of try to find the comedy to make my life better and more bearable hopefully I can reflect that in my photography, so people who see that can also be like, you know what, there's still hope for me.

What are you trying to express through your work?

I recently had to describe it, I guess officially for the first time, and I'm describing it as silly and sexy. When you look at it, the photo itself doesn't need to be completely silly or sexy. But the vibe or the idea behind it is to take things in a bit of a silly way or to make things sexier. So when you look at it, You're not just saying this photo is silly and sexy but you're kind of feeling the energy of silliness and sexiness coming to you. So your life can also become more… Silly and sexy. I guess that's the main way to describe it.

What is the story behind your winning photo?

That is so funny because, like, now, I've been talking about all this comedy, silly and sexy and that photo is like not…, I took that photo with no silliness or no sexiness in mind at all. To be completely honest, the model was already there! And there was another photographer. They were just one-on-one, and I completely hesitated to go there. I was like, Am I going to interrupt their flow? The other photographer just left after this. So, sorry to that guy. I don't know if I disturbed him but then the model was also kind of moving and away and I said, actually can we stay here? I'm seeing something. Can we take this photo? 

I took 10 steps away and she was looking at me, like where are you going? I thought you want me to stay here. I'm like “tight lens!” And I was already seeing this like beautiful wind and like these golden flags. I didn't even know the meaning at the time, but it spoke to me that like, okay, these are neutral flags and like we're in times that politically, there are talks of borders, tension and war is going on and I was like, okay this is something that is fitting the time that we're living in.

Afterwards, I looked it up and those flags are there representing a movement to stop the hate and stop discrimination and kind of lift the borders, maybe not physically on the map, but the borders that we are putting on our identities and kind of trying to box people into those borders. And these flags are there to lift those and like, start accepting everybody as one. And I was like, okay, that is perfectly fitting.

Do you have any ongoing projects?

I’m trying to get into the NFT, Web 3 space and I have been talking to people. This is where the silly and sexy description came from. I'm meeting many people virtually, and I need to describe my style…I am making new connections and that is taking a lot of time and effort, in a good way. Not that I'm complaining. So that's going on on one side. And on the other side, I've been trying to create these photo series with creative people. I worked in agencies and I have worked with some brands and I decided, those are kind of like, super stressful and not fun. I want to connect with the person I'm photographing so that they can also use the photograph in a meaningful way.

As a creative, I know that we require support because, in these times, it sometimes feels like I'm just screaming into a void and nobody's listening.

Photos can be really powerful and I want to use that power to support other creatives…I'm now connecting with musicians, comedians, actors, and such to create portraits for them to support their vision, and their character and communicate that. So that we are all kind of supporting each other to higher levels.

You can view more of Atakans work on his Website, Behance, Beazy profile, and on Instagram @narmalnd.