MASTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Necati Ufuk BAŞKIR
First, let us get to know you. Who is Necati Ufuk Başkır? Could you tell us about yourself?
When I graduated from Mimar Sinan University Faculty of Fina Arts, I already had a decade of experience in professional photography. When I founded PLANART in 1990,1 possessed advanced technical knowledge in Studio and Architecture. İn 1996,I joined PTFD (Professional Promotional Photographers Association). For a period, I taught “Photographic Design and Promotional Photography” at Departments of Photography and Graphic Design at Kocaeli University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. I’m photographer specializing on promotional indoors and product shoo- ting.
How and when did you decide to be a photographer?
My professional life so far taught me that life comes up with various surprises in accordance with their personal qualities and talents. The environment during my childhood emphasized obsession upon creativity and expression at such a rate that my own creativity and industriousness eventually led to choose my path towards fine arts. I made six choices during the exam but due to a twist of fate that I understand only now, I enrolled to the department of photography.
I define what I do as a service. Service requires Vision. This is not a “premade”. Since there’s no pre- made product, there’s no profit to haggle upon. İn a country where even engineers are underrated, what does it mean to boast that one is a “professional photographer", just because they can handle a camera?
You’ve also won the department of sculpture. What changed your mind?
During my freshman year, I dreamed of switching to sculpture department. I eventually won the department in my second year. One day, when I peeked through the frosted lens of a 13×18 camera of a master, I saw what I should do and who I should be. Ali two-dimensonal arts struggle with the illusion of a third dimension in two dimensions. From cave paintings to this day, all art from with the exception of architecture and sculpture are founded upon this illusion. I suppose, I preferred creating an illusion rather than creating something that is already illusory.
Are there any unforgettable moments in your career?
During the promotional shoo- ting of a pharmaceutical company, the shooting space was a very special location, which was shut down during the course of the shooting. After the session, the location was sterilized and the production continued. it total, we used 7-8 shots of 4”x5” film and 8-10 rolls. During the Processing of the film, the films were somehow damaged and the lab couldn’t account for it, because the remainder of the films was unscathed. We told them that we could reshoot the session but it was turned down.
Then I photographed a factory of the same company, in another region. The production was ceased for the purposes of the shooting as well. The company asked us the shoot the aforementioned location in this compound and we shot with our utmost care and attention, using as much equipment we used during the previous run. Inexplicably, the films were damaged during the processing. The initial theory of the environmental chemicals corrupting the films didn't make sense either. This is one of the occasions in my life where I couldn’t find a reasonable explanation.
When you invest in and produce a high- priced product, you seek ways of cheap promotion. I’ve always wondered if these people who know the price of everything, also do know the value of everything. Production, just like consumption, is a matter of consciousness and culture.
What are the main features of promotional photography that set it apart from the rest?
I believe that there are three types of photography: Hunter, Gatherer and Designer. Promotional photography requires the knowledge of all three and it can only be produced by a designer photographer. You need a particular talent for not being able to shoot with the current technology. But being a photographer and shooting photographs are two different things. Visual aspect is the primary element in promotion. From the premise that photography reflects the reality, the success of the visual aspect is judged accordingly with the success of the photograph. This is the point that separates amateurs from professionals.
You’ve contributed in H. Yiğit Yazıcı’s book,‘Hayallere Ayna Olmak’ (Being A Mirror for Dreams). Have you considered authoring a book about photography?
I’ve photographed for various artists, in return for their art- work. For some, I couldn’t bring myself to take anything, so I took ownership but left the art- work in their care. Frankly, That sort of barter is the best sort of trade. Due to the lack of its true value, money can be quite an unpleasant thing. İn Turkey, most artists are financially struggling. They must be promoted and supported by those who value and respect their work.
I’ve been working on a book for about a decade. It’s a work that can be helpful for not only photographers but for visual arts as well. But after some point, I also need a helping hand. A project of this caliber cannot be handled single handedly.
Who are the artists whose work you follow and admire?
Since my memory with names isn’t as keen as my visual and audial memory, I cannot name those other than the ‘classics’. For me, the work weighs more heavily than the name. The work leads me to the name. I follow any artists who are not stuck within the culture and that possess a universal quality. For instance, Kazimir Malevich’s 109×109 black square from 1913. İts beauty is breathtaking and it paralyzes me. İt gives off the same effect that 'black holes’ radiate.
Nobody says “I have a violin, so I can be a musician” but people who get a hold of a camera claim to be a photographer. What’s worse is that some other people take seriously. The worst problem is these people’s enterprise to take it upon themselves within “the cultural issues and market conditions”
What would you advise to young and capable artists?
Each generation has a hard time understanding the precedent, as the condition of life change too rapidly. There’s not much to be said in a world that consumerism is shoved into people at every turn. Nothing good, beautiful or worthwhile is achieved easily. There’s always a winding path of perseverance, dedication and patience, along with unrequited labours and overpaid dues behind every success.
The relationship between master and pupil is a unique school. I must say that it’s not only the simple knowledge of photography but it also requires an interest in all forms of art. They must turn themselves to areas they are interested in. Other- wise they’ll be stuck within the struggle of money-making.
These are alien concepts for today’s youth. They want every- thing fast and easy. More to the point, they are conditioning themselves to a life that the Powers-That-Be build behind that grand lie of “globalized world”. The order-like messages such as “don’t think, shoot” or “you can do it”, are reminiscent of the last century’s mentality of handing out free cameras. Apart from the fact that nothing is free anymore, we’re being punished for our pursuit of technology by hardware and software errors or the outdating of a system over a short period.
Do you believe that photography is given the relevant value in Turkey?
“When looking at a sculpture, the savage first sees stone.” It’s difficult to hear a melodic voice in a rumble. Considering Turkey’s current problems, it'd be a bit of a luxury to worry about the State of art or photography. in a country with a superficial culture of life, such values go no further than the moans on the lips of posh artsy types. Those who assess the situation in arts are those who approach it from a financial perspective. It’s a matter of supply and demand. Of course, one needs to have some hinterland in order to comprehend the situation. İn short, art in this country, let alone specifically photography, is rather difficult.
Do you believe that your messages reach the inten- ded audience?
The stone you see on a hike, ap- pears as history to an archaeologist. Numbers that are merely mundane to you might define a life for a mathematician. I’d like to answer this with lines from Özdemir Asaf.
“While somebody speaks, it’s up to the listener.
While somebody listens, it’s up to the speaker.
While somebody’s silent, it’s up to he who’s silent.”