Looking through a window: In conversation with Turkish photographer Alper Yesiltas

Anan Ashraf

I first came across Alper Yesiltas through an article on the Bored Panda. A Turkish photographer from Istanbul, he captured the window across his room for twelve years from 2005 through seasons, changes and time to finally capture it standing when the building was demolished on May 1st, 2017. I was intrigued by the photographs and the man behind the lens until one day I chose to strike up a conversation with him on Instagram.

You are a lawyer by profession, right? How did the interest in photography come about?

Yes, I’m a lawyer, also a photographer. I’ve been taking photos for about 15 years, I really don’t remember what pushed me to photography, but I remember, I started taking photos just when I started law school. Maybe I was thinking that this was a new way for me to learn. I think being a lawyer is about learning life, because I always have to follow the world and update my knowledge. On the other hand, photography is about seeing life. If you’re able to look from one more point of view, learning and following is definitely easier than the former situation. Of course law and photography are not parts of each other, but they formed my life, they’re my way to sense the world.

Your window series… did you know it would be demolished when you started photographing it?

No, definitely I didn’t. Let me give you a secret, in one photo, you see two men, one is falling down, other is standing. People asked me a lot about it. When I took the first photo of the window, I sure didn’t know that it would last for 12 years and that one day the owners would knock down the apartment. So, after some time, I thought I had enough photos and decided to end it. I took that photo. Actually, both men in the photo represent me. Man on the left, took a lot of shots of the window, falls down, man on the right, pushes other one to end it.

Image result for Alper Yeşiltaş

Out of sheer curiosity, does anyone live there? The curtains haven’t been changed in 12 years but then they are clean always. Also, one develops an attachment to views and spaces. What sort of a connect did you have to that view across your window?

The window was not opening into a room, but into an empty corridor in the building. The lovely curtain on it was making a great contrast with the partially cracked wall. It was standing there with its old frame all year round. It was open most of the time, especially when it was hot outside. It was standing right against my window and I was the only one who could see it from this angle. The inspiration hit me at that exact point. I was the only person in the world who would ever be able to see this beauty from this flawless angle. That is when I decided to take its photos. So, that moment of inspiration was the starting point for the whole story. I was thinking about taking photos in different seasons and put them side by side. At first, I just intended to have a simple album of seasons. However, as the seasons come and go, the window was giving me so many amazing poses that I decided to continue. Finally, it turned out to be a huge album with hundreds of photos.

Were you sad when the building got dismantled?

The story might sound sad but actually I did not feel bad because I really like the last photo I took and I’m happy that it ended like this.

Turkey, as a place, often struck me as quite romantic. What do you think?

I’ve been in 30 countries. Every time I come back home, I see that we actually have one of the most beautiful homelands in the world but I also see that majority of people isn’t aware of this, just living their serious lives and pass away. Your question, yes, I think we’re quite romantic and colourful on the outside but I guess I would prefer something different.

Lawyer or photographer? How would you be rather known as?

Both, I guess 🙂

How much does the recognition of your photographs mean to you?

I’m not taking photos for being recognized, but when it happens, when someone recognizes my photo somewhere and I notice him/her without being noticed, it feels so funny and good 🙂

How is your day and life like? Do you have a family or any close friends who share your passion?

My wife is a lawyer too, she also takes photos. We both love to travel, we share so many things in life (She loves to take my portraits by the way) I also have a lot of photographer, actor/actress friends who encourage me a lot. I’m lucky.

Tea or coffee? Which would you pick if I were sitting in front of you having a chat?

I would definitely pick coffee 🙂 Thank you very much.

Anan Ashraf is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in University of Hyderabad

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