“If you feel you see more in a person, object, or landscape than most other people do, then express your feelings and views through a lens.”
Beyhan Sabrina Siedow (born 1990) is a photographer from Turkey currently based in Istanbul. She studied photography at “Ringling College of Art and Design”, Sarasota, Florida (USA). For Beyhan Sabrina Siedow photography is an attempt to inspire people through “color, lighting, and beauty”.
“When I photograph people, I want the viewer to feel the same feelings that the person in the photograph is feeling.”
Interview with Beyhan Sabrina Siedow
Beyhan Sabrina, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
I became a photographer because I became inspired through my extensive travels and the variety of cultures that I’ve experienced. Seeing new places made me want to capture every moment thus photography became my passion.
Photography allows me to show people the world through my eyes. Having the chance to travel and explore the world at such a young age is a gift that not everyone is lucky to have, thus I enjoy the opportunity to share the world with those not so fortunate.
A photographer has many “tools” at hand to bring across his message: lenses, lighting, framing, color treatment etc. Can you elaborate a little bit on the techniques you used for this particular project in order to link form and content? In other words: How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
“I feel the story is fake if known before the shoot.”
Basically I do a shoot and afterwards I arrange the photographs into a story.
I don’t create a story before a shoot because nothing seems to work out as it might be planned. I feel the story is fake if known before the shoot.
The story should come out of the photographic feelings once the photos are processed.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at your photos?
I want people to feel inspired by the color, the lighting, the feeling of something natural, and the beauty.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Beyond a doubt, Steve McCurry has inspired me the most because of the way he captures such beautiful portraits of people and landscapes around the world. This is the type of work I want to be involved with because I feel people are inspired when they look at the photographs.
Two years ago I met Steve McCurry and we had our picture taken together at his exhibition titled “The Last Roll of Kodachrome” in Istanbul, Turkey. He is just as amazing as his photographs.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
For digital I use a Nikon D90 and for film I use a Canon AE1.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
What book about photography would you recommend?
I don’t have a preference to any particular book about photography. There are so many excellent ones out on the market as there are poor ones. Each photographer has a choice of their own taste and of course nearly everyone has a different taste.
One of your recent projects is called “Hidden”. What is it about and why did you decide to take on that subject?
A young girl wants to feel free and come out of her shell. However, she’s being held back by something she’s not sure of. The delicate, white lace she places over her legs, head, then face, expresses her innocence and purity.
She is beginning to feel free, but she wants the innocence to remain.
How did you choose your characters – and then got to know them and earned their trust etc.?
With respect to the series “Hidden,” I chose this model because of her natural innocence and mild manners. She just seemed to be the right person to portray what I was trying to show.
How do you connect with your subjects?
There must be a connection between the photographer and the subject. If there is no connection, what the photographer is trying to portray will not come out in the photographs. I’ve been very lucky to have had the opportunity to photograph many open-hearted and interesting people.
Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide is known to work very slowly. She once said in an interview that she’d rather miss a good photo than to interrupt a conversation with the people she’s taking photos of. To her “respect” and “complicity” are fundamental. Can you identify with that approach?
I agree one hundred percent with her approach since a photographer “must” have the respect of the people they photograph. Obtaining a good photo, but losing respect is not the way any photographer should operate.
Philosopher Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
“There is so much for the eye to see, but those images and views are mostly lost in people’s eyes.”
Prior to becoming a passionate photographer, I like most people just clicked images while traveling then put them in albums. These were not pictures with feeling, just pictures of places visiting during a trip.
Now I see the world in such a different way. There is so much for the eye to see, but those images and views are mostly lost in people’s eyes. I want to capture those missed images and views, plus have the feeling of wow included when viewed by others. I’ve learned that there is so much out in the world to see and I feel that I must capture as much of it as I can.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
Obviously graduating from “Ringling College of Art and Design” was the first landmark in my life. A landmark that started my professional photography career.
Since then I’ve had the opportunity to travel on celebrity photo shoots in Europe and product photo shoots for a famous company. Currently I’m happily involved in doing video and photo shoots for a European magazine.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
As the saying goes: ‘Just Do It’. If you feel you see more in a person, object, or landscape than most other people do, then express your feelings and views through a lens.
Don’t copy other people, be original, be inspiring, and be motivated to your work. If you can inspire people through your photographs, then you’ve succeeded.