Rengim Mutevellioglu is from Turkey, and frankly looking at her photos make me ask myself precisely what the hell have I been looking at until now? The emotion in her photos is so damn real I quite frankly wouldn’t be the least bit disturbed if one of her subjects started waving to me. I might just wave back. Check out her interview:
Where in Turkey are you from? What is your home like?
I’ve lived the majority of my life in the capital of Turkey, Ankara. It’s a bleak, bureaucratic city where the summers are hot and the winter cold freezes your bones. The city spends one half of the year in reddish beige colors reflected from the earth, and the other half covered with a thick white blanket. Unfortunately, as it happens, the weather is the only exciting thing in Ankara. What makes it bearable though are the people, the genuine, ordinary people who never leave your side and who make me miss the city more than anything.
What was it like to move from Turkey to Paris?
The move was incredibly easy. Paris is a really simple and relaxed city, much like most of Western Europe, you really don’t need any transition time to get used to it. Plus more or less like Ankara, nothing is ever incredibly exciting here either (though Paris is much prettier). Of course it doesn’t hurt that all my friends here are students from Turkey who share the same experiences as me.
The culture-shock I do notice is when I go back to Turkey at the airport, the amount of men with mustaches is unbelievable compared to Paris. I don’t know when exactly facial hair became a fashion accessory but it’s just odd seeing these hipster types with their cigarette legged jeans next to big brawny villagers, all of them rocking mustaches.
Where do you find your models? How do you prepare them emotionally and physically for a photo?
Generally, models have a tendency to find me. They’re usually my friends or close acquaintances who approach me to have their pictures taken. Otherwise I directly ask a friend I have in mind if they’re available. Shoots tend to be a mutual creation, I put as much into the picture as my model brings into it. There’s no preparation to speak of, if I have a particular idea on mind I’ll tell them and point to them to inspirations, but since none of my friends are professional models they usually don’t care that much. I think.
What was the first camera you used? What camera do you use currently?
My first camera was my dad’s small coolpix 11 years ago. The one I’m using right now is a fujifilm x100, I also use an analog Yashica from time to time.
What after effects, if any, do you use? How do you manipulate a picture to obtain the emotion that you wanted from it?
I play around with colors and tonalities on photoshop until it looks like the image I had in my head.
What filters do you associate with certain moods? What would you use if you wanted a quiet, dark, sad mood?
Well, for me the mood of a photograph is created during the shoot itself. I rarely go out searching for a particular mood. The mood associated with an idea is already present during and I don’t control its manifestation.
What is your favorite location to shoot in Paris? What about other cities?
I don’t believe I have a single favorite place in any of the cities I’ve been to. Except maybe in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) where the old Soviet center of this very modern, very bright city has still kept its charms, the Soviet residences with the ladas parked in front, the clothesline hanging between one building and another one on the opposite of the lot, the pastel colored parks with its own irrigation system making trees sprout out in the middle of the desert.
How are the textures, the colors and backgrounds of Paris? What do you like about them? How do they compare to other cities you have visited?
I don’t like anything about them. Paris is a pretty city and quite easy to live in but there’s nothing here that particularly inspires me to shoot. Everything is bland here, there’s nothing special that gets people to move, to stay active. While in a city like Istanbul, splashes of color are everywhere and saturate the already vibrant rhythm of life there. I do like the parks in Paris to be honest, the green here is very deep and emerald like most of the year. Plus it provides shades during warm peaks in Paris, which have been becoming more and more frequent, seriously people, climate change, it’s a thing.
What is your favorite part of the body to photograph and why?
Hah, naughty question. I may have the body of a 20 year old woman but I still have the mind of a 12 year old boy. Seriously though the face of course, for the obvious reasons, that’s the part everyone sees, the one we display, the one by which we try to hide our true selves but end up putting forth our feelings and emotions. I also like the back, most probably because it’s the contrary of my former idea, the part no one especially looks at and I love nothing more than contradicting myself, but also maybe cause it just looks like a canvas damnit.
What kind of response have your friends and family had to your photography?
I sometimes think everyone, my family included, just being nice to me cause they want to have nice profile pictures on their facebook. In fact, I’m pretty sure of this. So they’ve been very supportive.
What response have you received from impartial observers?
Good I guess. People on the internet are sometimes overjoyed (as much as someone can be considered happy through emails and comments) by my pictures so that makes me happy as well.
What have you learned about about your art from the separate sources?
That people just love pretty girls in skimpy dresses playing in the sun. Which I already knew so…
By the end of 2012 what do you hope to achieved?
I think staying alive is a very good resolution and very suited for this year. Of course, if it ends up being jaggerbombs for everyone that’d be great too.
What is your favorite sandwich?
I LOVE THIS QUESTION. There’s this sandwich that my mom makes, based on Starbuck’s veggie sandwich (I don’t think they have it everywhere though) with grilled vegetables (eggplants, tomatoes, red peppers, zucchini usually) marinated in olive oil and topped with either lightly fried heloumi or white cheese, between rye bread and then oiled again and grilled. I make it myself as well and it’s incredibly messy and slippery, just so hard to handle but holy crap is it delicious.