Suzan Pektaş' intimate relationship with light began in childhood. Since then, she has traveled the world with open eyes and a sensitive heart, looking for moments to capture with her camera and eye. Learn more about her subtle, poetic images...
BtF: How did you begin your work in photography? Was there a "decisive moment" when you knew it was a special medium for you, when you felt truly committed to it?
SP: I had an intimate relation with light since my childhood. I used to love playing with shadows. But it was not until my college years that I became seriously involved with photography. A close friend of mine was an amateur photographer and I used to borrow his camera. When some of my pictures—sent by him among his own to be considered for an exhibition—were selected, I started to see photography as a potential means to express myself and be creative. I built my own darkroom in the college dormitory and bought my first camera. They were fascinating years, full of self-experimentation and exploration of this new medium.
But it was not until 5 years ago that I started to take photography as an almost full-time occupation. Having spent years in corporate life, I was looking for a way to break through life's routines and there it was: my old camera. Yet, it was the digital photography age, so I bought my first digital camera and since then I have been investing more and more time in it. Photography truly answered my expectations and offered me a way to express myself that I had been craving.
BtF: When you were beginning photography, were there any people, artists, books, films that served as essential inspirations? How about now—any sources of creativity you discovered recently that give you that jolt of "beginner's" passion?
SP: Among all the big names like Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, Sally Mann and others, Bill Brandt has a special place for me. He gave me the courage and inspiration to build my own language and use photography as a unique alphabet.
He once said, if I may quote, "I am not interested in rules and conventions, photography is not a sport," which made me feel strong enough not to follow the main streams of photography but to explore my own desires.
The cross-roads of a poetic language and social commentary is what defines his work and is what I take as a motto. His books "Perspective of Nudes" and "Shadow of Light" are especially inspiring sources for me.
Another source of inspiration for me has been the film director Andrei Tarkovsky. His cinematic language, which focuses on the existence and consciousness of the individual, has been very influential for me. His work could be at the roots of my exploration of the human individual at a personal level, in different settings of daily life.
I also should not miss John Berger's "Another Way of Telling," chief among the sources of my inspirations and guides. His point of view encouraged me to create stories as well as to document them. I learned from him that a photographer is part of the scene he/she is capturing, even if he/she is not visible there.
And finally, I should acknowledge the positive effect of new media such as Instagram, online magazines, etc., which allow me to get exposed to and be exposed by different minds and visions. All of these serve as sources of stimuli for me to come up with new ideas.
BtF: Cartier-Bresson famously said, "Your first 10,000 shots are your worst." Can you share a humbling moment that happened to you recently with regards to your photography? A moment when you realized, like all of us, that there's always much more to learn?
SP: I am constantly in a state of learning. When I recently saw Raoul Hausmann's and Man Ray's works, such as collages and some printing techniques, I was once again convinced that I am a beginner and will always be a beginner.
I should also mention several good street photographs—which were made using techniques like double exposure and/or flash-light, that I have not used much so far. As a matter of fact, the more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to learn! I believe that's fascinating, a never-ending journey open to unprecedented explorations.