More than a visual tale about the gracefulness of the female form, today’s beautiful Photo Story by Ozan Mutlu Dursun from Istanbul, Turkey explores the beauty radiating from two different characters. By dressing his subjects in a mix of dainty elements that reflected their similarities, he also compellingly underscored the unique qualities that make his muses beautiful in their diversity.
There is no better storyteller to give us a deeper look into this delicate imagery than Ozan himself, so we asked him a few questions to find out more about him and his work.
Please tell us something about yourself; where are you from and what do you do?
I am Ozan and I live in Istanbul, Turkey. Graduated in Visual Communication Design from Kadir Has University. I make a living out of both photography and graphic design.
How did your film photography journey begin?
I started using digital point & shoot cameras when I was a young boy. I liked what I achieved, so I kept on going with it. Cameras eventually changed and got better after years, and when I finished high-school successfully, I decided to get a DSLR. It was a Canon EOS 450D, which is now considered to be pretty old amongst its other models. I used it for about a year and even held an exhibition of some portrait shots I did with it in a small café. Some time after, I started to get bored of it. I wasn’t having fun anymore. Whatever you’re doing, it has to be entertaining to you before anything else.
After the growth of Lomography and of course, film photography itself, I thought, what would it be like if I switched to film? I didn’t know anything about it; sure, I used old Kodak disposable cameras as a child many years ago, but I didn’t remember any of it. After some consideration, I decided to buy a film camera. I figured out if I’m going to get good on photography, I should start from the fundamentals of it. There was an antique shop near my neighborhood which I always see when I go home or to the university. I never got a chance to visit and check out what could be in it.
After some time, I finally had the time so I decided to go in — maybe there is an old film camera, waiting to be bought, I thought. Well, there was one, and in working condition. That’s how I got my first Zeiss Ikon Ikonta medium format camera. It was a blast. I bought an expired film pack from a website and went on shooting with it. So that’s how it all began. It’s been 5 years since I started using film cameras in my work.
We’d like to know the story and/or inspiration behind your series called Equinox. How did the idea came about and how did you prepare to execute it? What emotions or ideas were you trying to convey or capture as you worked?
I wanted to shoot a series like this for a very long time. I haven’t got enough resources to make it happen before. Because of the new experiences and opportunities, I gave it a go. Worked with two female models (whom are also my close friends). Also, having a make-up artist as a girlfriend really helps. She also helped with styling. Another close friend helped on behind the scenes, assisting when needed and keeping us entertained and alive. These parts were not consistent before, since I had to do everything by myself, so it really made a change.
The idea behind Equinox was to capture the intimacy and the aesthetic difference between two different characters. We used the same bodysuits to match the place we used. I used my Kiev 60 medium format camera (which I pretty much always use nowadays — can’t really go back to 35mm after seeing the results from medium format) and chose Kodak Portra film. Portra has great tonal varieties in it, and I seek it because of the natural colors it provides.
I try to provide a hint for the story I’m telling via the project name. I don’t really talk or explain what I tried to achieve or what I’m trying to tell with my series, I leave all that to the audience, since taste is really a subjective notion. However, I do shoot series to tell a story, but I really try to keep it subtle so it doesn’t hurt or change the feel of photographs themselves.
If you can change something about this photo series, what would it be and why?
I wanted to use more flowers with models before the shoot. The idea was to use colorful flowers to complement the make up we did to models, so we can create a connection between them. We started the shoot at the crack of dawn, so I only managed to find a single florist open. It was Sunday, too. Whoops. We really had a tight time space, so it is normal to have issues like this- nevertheless, shoot itself went really well.
What do you consider to be the most important element or ingredient that makes a photograph great?
Aesthetics. It has to be visually pleasing. I’m not talking about female body only; any subject could be visually pleasing if it’s used properly.
Why is this collection of shots special to you? If you had to select a favorite shot, which would it be and why?
They are special for several reasons. I found a lot of things were new to me as I described before, so the experience itself is a really huge factor. My pick would be the final frame of the series, where one model looks into mirror while other looks into the camera. It feels like a strong image — and does tell a story by itself. There is both frigidity and intimacy in it, which describes the main two keywords for this series.
Where do you usually seek inspiration or ideas for your photography?
Instagram and Behance keep me inspired 90% of the time. I mostly follow and delve into fashion/art magazines on Instagram and I always study for sometime about my project beforehand, so I can plan out what I am trying to achieve/tell. Behance is a good place for this; I learned a lot just by looking other artists’ photographs.
Lastly, why do you shoot with film, and why do you think everyone should, too?
I shoot with film because it feels alive. I shoot with film because I love grain. I shoot with film because of the atmosphere it provides. There is something romantic about it, apart from being nostalgic, which I totally adore. Film is physical. You can touch and see your negatives. Every frame counts and they are valuable. Not because of the film or lab prices, because of the frame limit it has — you also can’t chimp after every photo you take, therefore film pushes you (no pun intended) to be creative about your frame. I can keep on going like this — it has more advantages than digital medium rather than disadvantages, in my humble opinion. If you have never used a film camera before and into photography, definitely give film a try, it won’t disappoint you. Just trust me, it won’t.
Photographer: Ozan Mutlu Dursun @ozanmutludursun
Models: Nicole @nicolesedef & Helesa @helesavalkorauta
Make-Up Artist & Stylist: Melis Deniz @seaofmelis
Backstage: Faruk Yılmaz @farukxyilmaz
To see more of Ozan’s work, please follow the links below: