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General

Visiting Ezgi Polat

A great feeling – the eager excitement of developing the film, then viewing, scanning and sorting the negatives. This nostalgic touch is what Ezgi Polat loves about analogue photography. The 24-year-old Berliner was born with a camera in her hand. Her mother was an enthusiastic amateur photographer and always had her camera on her. She passed this passion on to Ezgi, who ended up turning the family hobby into her job. Last year she finished her studies, and has been working as an independent photographer since then.

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You take so many great photos; where do you get the inspiration for them?

That’s a good question. I mean, I’ve been taking photographs pretty much ever since I can remember. Even as a child I snapped everything that crossed my path. I got my first proper camera when I was 16. Then I got a feel for photographing people by photographing friends and experimented a lot in order to get rid of my shyness. Sometimes before a shooting I already have a few visions in my head that I want to realise, but most of the time the people in the situation inspire me, and I like to just go with it. I’ve had the best experiences doing that.

I look at lots of photos and works by other artists, that stimulates your own creativity and motivates you when you see something aesthetic and moving. Or films! Films are also an inspiration for me.

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You photograph exclusively in analogue. What provokes you to do that?

I started with analogue photography. I used to use digital as well but it was never fun. I’m nostalgic. One film, 36 pictures. That feeling after they’ve been developed of finally having the negatives in my hand, and one by one scanning them and organising them nicely – I enjoy that. Most of all you don’t know what will come out! With time I’ve become better at estimating how they’ll turn out, but that joy after developing is still pretty huge when great photos come out. This »old-fashioned« kind of photography suits me. I like its charm, and that I can completely influence the technique myself – I have never worked with automatic. But I can also see myself photographing more with digital.

Nostalgia, perhaps also a touch of melancholy? One sees that in your pictures. What do want to express with your photos?

For me, it’s important that they are very emotional. I rarely photograph what you would usually call “happy people”. Happiness isn’t even really definable. Sometimes when someone is withdrawn and keeps calm, it doesn’t mean that they are unhappy. Melancholy is an important motive in my photography because I think it expresses more than happiness. When a model opens themselves up to me emotionally, it is usually a very still and quiet, but nevertheless extreme moment that I have to try to capture. Those are moments and emotions that you can’t really show like that.

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Nostalgia, perhaps also a touch of melancholy? One sees that in your pictures. What do want to express with your photos?

For me, it’s important that they are very emotional. I rarely photograph what you would usually call “happy people”. Happiness isn’t even really definable. Sometimes when someone is withdrawn and keeps calm, it doesn’t mean that they are unhappy. Melancholy is an important motive in my photography because I think it expresses more than happiness. When a model opens themselves up to me emotionally, it is usually a very still and quiet, but nevertheless extreme moment that I have to try to capture. Those are moments and emotions that you can’t really show like that.

 

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What is your daily routine like as an independent photographer?

It changes a lot but it’s never boring. I am constantly working with unknown, new people, people who want to be photographed and book me. I really enjoy working with actors because they are very open and know how they should pose so that they look good in the picture. I love being my own boss and being able to decide how many projects I am in charge of at once or how many appointments I book. Currently I’m very active on Instagram. I want to let anyone who is interested take part in my daily life.

You mentioned Instagram. There, as well as everywhere else on the net, whether it’s Facebook or flickr, photos and photographers are a dime a dozen. What do you think? Social media – more of a curse or a blessing?

Being a photographer, I started posting pretty early when this all took off. It’s through these channels that most people know my photos. I have to say I find it does more good than bad. Of course, there are a ton of photographers and a ton of pictures that are possibly similar to mine, but that’s okay. Maybe they are inspired by me, just like I am inspired by others. And of course, it’s a nice feeling when bloggers write nice things about your art – especially being part of the current generation where one is prone to define oneself based off of likes and comments. I’ve received tons of private messages on the Internet, and I’ve made many work-related contacts that way. It’s a range and feedback that I wouldn’t be able to receive anywhere else.

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With photography, you turned your biggest hobby into your job. What do you do in your free time?

Oh, that isn’t so easy to separate. Of course, I like meeting up with friends, going to concerts or exhibitions. As to the rest, I develop other ideas at the same time that relate to my independence. Whether it’s thinking about whether I need to update my website or just a new idea for a project. My work and private life pretty much flow together.

Many people come to Berlin because of art, but you were born and raised here. Could you imagine living anywhere else?

Yeah, I’d like to work somewhere abroad. Even if it’s just for a little while. I think I’ll do it, I just don’t know when yet. I don’t have a specific idea of where but maybe somewhere where it’s warmer. Of course, as a Berliner, I’m used to there always being something going on. Complete silence wouldn’t be my thing. But getting around a bit, touring big cities, working internationally, that’s definitely a dream of mine.

Credits
Text: Carina Ebert

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