Who is Suleyman Cam? Can we get some information about his life story, education, family and career?
I was born in a very beautiful coastal village of Trabzon. I had my primary and secondary education in Trabzon. Then I was sent to France by the Ministry of National Education as a student with a special status. First I started to study French Literature at Sorbonne University, but two years later I changed to the Faculty of Medicine. When I graduated from there, I left the city of Paris, where I had lived for a long time, and returned home. I have been living in Bahcesehir since 1994. For 12 years, I have been working as a doctor for the Hürriyet Newspaper.
How did your interest in the art of photograhy start? Were there any people who inspired you to love photography?
When I finished the second class at junior secondary school with good grades, my father bought me a simple camera. At first, it was only curiosity, but later I started to be fond of “freezing the moments of life” very much. I have always liked photography. Anyone who criticized my shots and anyone whom I photographed have contributed a lot to my photography adventure.
Have you completed your acedemic career in photography? Could you tell us how you progressed in photography?
I have been studying photography since I was 12. I got my first lessons from our neighbourhood photographer who developed my photos in his studio. I learnt from him basic things like light, aperture, shutter speed, and so on. I joined the photography clubs of the universities where I had been studying, and attended their photography courses. I have participated in plenty of discussions about photography. Now I have been doing an undergraduate study on photography. I am planning to get a doctoral degree in the subject as well.
Can you talk about your photo exhibitions from the very the beginning until now? Which one did you enjoy most? In the time tunnel, have there been any exhibitions which you were satisfied, you weren’t satisfied or which haven’t been achieved but stayed in the idea stage?
I have opened plenty of exhibitions so far. With the photos exhibited, I have always tried to communicate something. However, by means of exhibitions, you can reach only a limited number of people, so my next target is to prepare a book. In this way, I think I will be able to reach more people. By reaching more people, I will share more.
Let’s talk about the awards you have received. We wonder especially the story of the gold medal you were awarded in 2012. We would like to hear about the Open 66th Bristol International Salon of Photography Contest and the “Ice-cream”.
Since 2008, I have been participating in national and international photography contests. Since 2012, I only prefer to take part in the international contests. I have received over 50 awards so far. The most precious of these for me was the one which has been organised once a year in England for 66 years and over 14.000 photographers take part and in which my photo called “Ice-cream” got the gold medal. I have been awarded gold medal at similar contests, but “Ice-cream” was special for me. It was a photo of a one and a half year old child called Bahar, who doesn’t want to leave, without cleaning, the place where she spilt her ice-cream, in the part of İstiklal Street which is closer to the Tunnel.
While taking photos, which emotions do you feel? Are the traces of your thoughts which are carried from your life felt in your photography? For you, is taking photos freedom or an artistic burden which contains a heavy responsibility?
In the beginning, taking photos meant freedom to me, later I realised that it was complete responsibility as well as being freedom. Responsibility; because I have responsibility for the person whose photo I take. First of all, I should never act in such a way that will give harm to them. Besides, I shouldn’t make bad use of the places I have photographed. With the photos I take, I have always been and will always be aware of my responsibilities for socially communicating and expressing. While taking photos, I feel like I am looking from the dark to the light, and I feel the beautiful things are on the light side. It’s very exciting and delighting.
How are the themes, choice of places, small details, timing, motivation and shooting environment idendified? Is there a team you work with? Or do you work individually? generaly work individually. However, there are some photography groups for whom I serve as project consultant, so I go on photo excursions with them, too. Some locations are randomly chosen, and some are specially chosen by me. An example for this again could be the photo of mine which was awarded gold medal. In Bahcesehir, I worked to photograph some workmen for 2 hours during two consecutive mornings while they were constructing the building where today Karafırın is also located. Thus, the “Construction Stage”, which is one of my most precious photos, came out.
It is said that photos are the most important documents which witness history. While taking artistic photos, do you feel that you have a historical identity? While you are cherishing the realities beyond what is seen, and the projections beyond the perception, do you merge with other layers of emotions?
Each photo is a document indeed. A photographed document of that second which you can never turn back to, and the location of that second. As I chase completely for artistic photography, I have quite a good archive of documentary photography. The photograph I have taken a second ago or an hour before will witness the history, and this makes me excited, and I am aware of all my responsibilities.
What are the main components of the good expression in your photography? How do you catch those soft tones, shades, and distribution of light? Is there an artist of photography or an art trend that you follow?
Related to documentary photography which tells about men and his surroundings, I have learnt quite a lot from and been influenced by Ara Guler’s photography. I also follow Nuri Bilge Ceylan with interest. In fact, a photographer can get and learn something from any photos he has looked at, and this is the main point.
We know about your interest in mountaineering, tracking and tennis. Considering your being a doctor, we wonder how you allocate your time to all these various activities.
I have always done sports in my life. I used to deal with hiking and climbing intensively before I was 40. Nowadays I mostly play tennis; at least 5 times a week in the mornings, for 2 to 2,5 hours before I start work. At some weekends, I go on photo excursions and walk non- stop for 5 to 6 hours on the search for good shots with my 15 kilo ruck sack on my back. I also work as an e-doctor. I love my job. I don’t only do my regular work, but also I give a 24 hour a day health service from my mobile phone.