Meet the Photographer Documenting Everyday Life in the Turkish Capital

“The next generation will read the history with the photos we take today. The mission of the photographer is the same as a historian. The photographer is a visual historian.”
- Sadık Üçok

Spending everyday out on the streets of Istanbul with a camera, photographer Sadık Üçok has become a visual historian of the city. Across a myriad of engaging, wide-angle, black and white images, Sadık charts the city’s people as they wander, children as they play, and the city as it changes.

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Sadık has built up mass appreciation for his work via his Instagram account, through which he shares his daily documents of the ever-changing city.

We met the photographer for a chat about his work and his city.

THE PLUS: What do you tell people who have never been to Istanbul before to expect?
Sadık Üçok:
Well, for those come as a photographer, I say it’s better to forget what they know about Istanbul. Istanbul is a city full of surprises. Modern and traditional culture is in continuous motion. In this intense movement you have to think and act very quickly for a good photograph. I’m sure they will take their best street photos in Istanbul.

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TP: What do you like about using black and white for your work?
SÜ:
The photo is a miracle, and the miracle of this miracle is black and white. I’m not against colour photography but my passion is black and white. The black and white photograph has no deficiency, but on the contrary, all colours are already in an excellent black and white.

TP: Tell us about your process for documentary photography – how often and how long do you spend out taking photographs per session?
SÜ:
From the moment I started using the camera, I always take photos in the documentary style. Life is flowing fast and history is always being created. It is my responsibility to record social life so it is known for the future generations. And I love my work. I take photos almost every day on the streets. I always carry a mirrorless camera on my neck ready to shoot.

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TP: What inspired you to go out and make images in streets of Istanbul for the first time? When did you start?
SÜ:
I bought my first camera as a second hand from a photo journalist of the newspaper where I was working as a cartoonist in 1985. That day I put film in the camera and started to take photo in the historical part of Istanbul, Eminönü, a place which I am not tired of photographing to this day. The great Turkish photographer Ara Güler who is 90 years old, inspired me. I am trying to continue recording where he left Istanbul.
 
TP: Have you noticed any changes on the streets of Istanbul since you started your project?
SÜ:
Istanbul is a big city. Many cultures live together and changes happen rapidly. This change usually takes the form of an increase of modern structures. In addition, immigration to Istanbul from different cities has become attractive, and this is prompting change in culture and architecture. In many places, the historical texture of Istanbul is rapidly disappearing. It is the task of photographers like me to document such changes.

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