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Fresh View on the Orient: A Selection from the Contemporary Turkish Photography

Refik Akyüz, Serdar Darendeliler, Ahmet Polat

IMAGO, Issue 24, Summer 2007

Although contemporary Turkish photography is little known outside of Turkey, its history is nearly as long as that of photography itself. Within the East, always mythic in Western eyes, Constantinople, Anatolia, and other regions of the Ottoman Empire gained importance for Western travelers in the 18th century. This is partly because of the impression that people in the East had a very different lifestyle, especially on the Aegean coast, which also has important ruins of Hellenic, Roman, and Byzantium periods. In the 19th century, during the Ottoman Empire, most of the photographic influences came from abroad. Soon after Daguerre’s invention of photography in 1839, Anatolia and Istanbul also hosted the first visits of these orientalists. Travelers documented the ancient buildings as well as the unfamiliar aspects of life and architecture through engravings and oil painting. French photographers like Ernest de Caranza and Maxim du Camp, and British photographer James Robertson, one of the first war photographers, came to Istanbul and other parts of the Anatolia to take photographs of this region, especially the archaeological treasures. Their impact on creating an awareness of the photographic medium and the opening of the first portrait studios cannot be underestimated.

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