Dance of the Photograph & History

"Photograph is the one and only common language understood in all over the world that ties human family to each other, by bringing together the nations and cultures..."

Helmut Gernsheim


Dance of the Photograph & History


30 glass plate negatives; I have chosen for the project namely “Dance of Photograph & History" were taken between the years 1920 - 1940 belonging to some of the first studio photographers of our young Turkish Republic.


According to me, the most impressive part of the subject is being the reflections of the history of era, full of social and cultural fabric. Maybe under the light of the reflections of the photos I transferred to digital media, make our personal stories possibly be formed which will link us to each other.


In the period of digital photography started to gain priority against analog technology, also the first steps of my journey towards the depth of the world of photography had started.


In 1997, I began to search for footprints of Turkish studios in Anatolia by setting out from İstanbul.


Photographs, documents I could reach, sucked me deep inside of history. The first car driven in Anatolian roads, the first used sewing machine, medical doctors, the first theaters, professions, children, women, men, the changing living conditions, innovations, the first ones... The firsts of...


One-step photograph, two-step history... two-step history, one-step photograph... Photograph and history were dancing in a magnificent rhythm.


Frame by frame, I observed the fact that how studio photography reached to Turkey and developed, based on the narrates of alive witnesses of non existing studios and the glass plates negatives I could manage to get, as of a movie strip. The photographers from European countries came to Turkey and had traveled around in Anatolia by wondering orientalism and carrying heavy photograph machines on their back. The photographs taken by them, and the postcards they issued, were spread around from country to country, hand to hand. Traveling enthusiast European photographers admired to Istanbul and had settled in, afterwards inaugurated the first studios in the Pera district of the city simultaneously as per European capitals. 1845. Non-Muslim citizens who chosen the profession of photography had followed them.


The first Muslim Turkish photographer had established the first photo studio in Crete in 1895 and in 1909 in Istanbul with the name Resna.


The photo studios in Anatolia had started to pop up, following one another in those years. The size and weight of the photograph machines, photographs to be taken on the glass, emulsions preparation phases, long exposure times, the lack of photographic material and equipment due to the war had became the important factors, increasing the importance of photograph & photographers. The reflections of developing war technology in other areas naturally had an impact on the photo technology. The sizes of cameras were reduced. This given rise to the technical and material developments such as the topographical air photography, underwater photography and photo chemicals.


I had listened an interesting event in order to spread out to use of new products instead of materials which are not available in the market, from the son of a photographer of the era, who is not alive now.


With respect to him and prominent photographers of the era, I am going to reflect an interesting anecdote; "During the World War II, photo equipment were not available in Halicarnassus (today’s Bodrum) just like life saving drugs. The solution to those difficulties had come from the sky with the fallen boxes.


The U. K. aircrafts dropped the Cosmos 144 photo cards by small parachutes carrying the British flag, while the Americans using the same delivery technique for 18 X 24 cards, to the free space in front of the presently Halicarnassus Disco.


From inside the British card boxes, the papers had emerged bearing the saying of; "Arrival. Thanks to the British convoy". 
The war and the material shortages in one hand, and not decelerating photography on the other…


During my relevant explorations, I realized that most of the first provincial photographers became photographer after being engine-drivers of trains. Simultaneously with the starting phase of the construction of the railroad linking Europe to Anatolia, the photograph had followed the railroads in Turkey. The inaugurated studios had presented a different world to the customers, by using background curtains made by painters and various decoration materials. Even portrait was very popular as though the elixir of immortality for a person to be happy and proud of, as a warranty of forever remembrance.


Photograph had been moved to far inside and remote corners of Anatolia, following the black train. From that very moment on; beloved ones, friends, soldiers, and whom being away would be closer to each other with the help of notes written on the rear of the photographs.


Location: Beautiful geography of Turkey.

Are you ready to trace the eternal “Dance of Photograph & History’’?

I am presenting… You already started to watch...

What is your opinion? The photographers of centuries ago, could ever dream that their photographs can reach to billions of people within seconds in digital environment?

Have a nice watching...

"Whom, their photographs were taken had already been passed away. But the era who lived in is going to live eternally in their glance.’’

J. P. Sartre


Prepared by Zeynep Orhon Targaç

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"Dance of the Photograph & History" by Zeynep Orhon Targaç |
Music: ''Black Earth - Kara Toprak'' Lyric ballad's Words: Veysel ŞATIROĞLU (Veysel the Minstrel) Composer &  Performer(Piano): Fazıl Say.

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