Ekin Can Bayrakdar is a Turkish fashion photographer living and working in London. We had a chat with him about his path into photography and found out why he decided to leave the creative scene in his homeland behind.
Hi Ekin, how’s life?
Life is very good, and it will be better. I am so busy though. I don’t have enough time! Sometimes I wish a day would last longer than 24 hours, that would make things a lot easier for me.
You were raised in Turkey. How was life over there?
Yes, I was born in Cyprus but when I was 4 my family moved to Turkey, where my father is from. Life was perfect when I was a kid. Turkey has really interesting history and geography, but the economy is not good and the art and fashion industry is nowhere near as good as places like the UK. That’s the reason I moved to London.
I always took the camera, ran away and took pictures of everything.
How is the photography scene in Turkey?
In Turkey it is really hard to make a living with photographs, especially in a creative way like if you are an editorial fashion photographer. There is a few magazines in Turkey and they have always worked with the same team, same photographers. There are few designers who also continually work with same photographers too. So it is really hard to get into this industry and hard to survive by taking photographs, unless of course you are wedding photographer.
So, where did your photography journey start?
My father is an artist too so we share same profession (my degree is in fine art) and he also likes to take pictures. When I was a child I always took his analog camera, a Zenith, and looked through the viewfinder at scenes and pretended to take pictures. When I was 13, my father bought a DSLR camera to take pictures of his paintings. I always took the camera, ran away and took pictures of everything. Landscapes, animals, flowers, people etc, and that’s where it all started.
Was it hard getting noticed while living in Turkey?
Both yes and no. Yes because there are very few fashion photographers and I started to take portraits of my friends which led to amateur models and then from there I began working with agencies. I’ve been lucky to work with really good agencies with internationals models.
Once, an agency from New York emailed me when I was living in Istanbul and asked me if I wanted to shoot with their model who was already there. That’s one of my ways to connect with agencies, they always appreciate my work and ask me to shoot again. Another agency which is based in New York helped me to contact an agency in London too. They recommended this particular agency to work with me, and thanks to them I started to connect and work with good agencies in London such as Next Models, BMA and D1.
No because there are few creative people in this industry in Turkey and they almost all know each other, so they only want to work with who they already know. It was really hard to get into photography business. To be honest, it has been just 6 months that I moved to London, and I have already made more contacts than in Istanbul.
Why did you decide to move to London?
Firstly, I had been accepted by Chelsea College of Arts for MA Fine Art which is one of the most prestigious universities for contemporary art around the world. Secondly, London is the centre of the art and fashion industry, if you want to be an international artist and photographer you have to move where you need to be. I also do not like the mentality of the Turkey and the Turkish Government and would hate to live there. I was bored of living there actually. My childhood my dream was moved to abroad.
It seems like you’re very passionate about fashion. Where you always interested in fashion?
Actually I was never really interested in fashion, in real life I don’t do shopping, I always get someone else to buy me something, I don’t visit shops, I don’t have the time and it’s actually boring in my opinion. What I do love is to create something belongs to art and fashion is the way which I can create interesting images.
It has been just 6 months since I moved to London, and I have already made more contacts than in Istanbul.
In what ways does London inspire you and your work?
London is a great city, I really love it. You can see lots of inspiration everywhere, when you walk on street, get on the bus, get on the tube. I mean even people in London look like they have escaped from fashion movies, not everyone obviously, but I am talking about a good amount of people.
Is there any work you’re most proud of thus far?
For now, shooting with a gorgeous model named Callum Quinn represented by Next Models London in October which has been published by MMSCENE Magazine February Issue. Massive congrats to all my team for this perfect story, stylist Tania Hergenhahn and make up artist Hollie Lang. I couldn’t have created this story without them.
How important is promoting yourself in your opinion?
Promotion is one of the most important things in every industry, but I am not successful with that, I have no idea how promote myself! I need advice or someone who is eager to do that for me I think.
Is there anyone who inspired you to create what you’re creating right now?
Of Course! Firstly I have always been inspired by my father, he taught me lots of things about aesthetics, philosophy, art history and what art is. But if we’re talking fashion photography, I always check out work of Tim Walker, Mert & Marcus and Mario Testino.
I mean even people in London look like they have escaped from fashion movies.
How would you describe your photography in just three words?
Will be better.
What do you hope to achieve in 2016?
I hope to shoot much more. Create much more.
Written by: Fares Masharawi, Amie Galbraith
Want to see more of the person behind this lens?
Visit their website: ekincanbayrakdar.com