Non Celebrities

‘’The only difference between the living and the dead is: The gaze.’’ Giacometti

On one of the last days of the shoots for my İstanbul-Panorama book (2007), as I was climbing up the Galip Dede street with a heavy 6x17 panoramic camera in my hand, I was really surprised to see nearly 40 photo-reporters lined up in two rows all set to flash in front of the Galata Dervish Lodge. I knew most of them. Photo-reporters from the Turkish press!

Between the “Hi!”s and “What’s up with this!”, they all suddenly pointed their cameras up at the same time. When I turned to follow their gaze, I came face to face with Prince Charles. I remember taking four takes at once with my huge camera, as Charles waved to the photographers for one or two seconds. My camera could only take four shots at a time. Before there was time to put in another roll of film, the Prince got into his car and disappeared. In the following days, when I developed the film, I realized that three of the four shots were blurred, any yet one shot was very clear and probably this was the first instance of the Prince being photographed by a 6x17cm black and white panoramic camera.

When I look at the portfolios of numerous photographers I admire, I am always surprised to see how many celebrity photographs they have taken. For example, biographies of Yousuf Karsh include statements like: “Karsh has photographed three popes, eight kings and queens, 48 Nobel laureate authors and scientists and countless presidents!” (I’ve sort of rounded up these numbers, but at least according to the Karsh books in my library, there are this many.) Furthermore, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, and Cartier Bresson have photo books consisting only of celebrities. When I go through my archive from time to time, I remember that as far as celebrities go, I have taken one photograph of Dalai-Lama (and that on auto timer on a tripod, with myself in the photo with him) and a portrait of Joan Baez I honestly don’t recall taking. Also, I think in 1986, the year I started photography; I shot a portrait of Benazir Butto on top of an election campaign bus in Karachi. As for a local celebrity, the only photograph I took –or care about- is a photograph of the poet Ece Ayhan with an umbrella in his hand. And behind him, a black and white cat quietly passing through.

And this is why it was inevitable to call this group of portraits “Non Celebrities!” Who knows who these people are, where they are and what they are doing now?


These photos shot by 35mm and 6x7cm cameras on black&white negative film and scanned. Print size variable upon request (50x60cm dark room prints also available, printed and signed by photographer). Contact the photographer for price.