Interview and words by Sonia Dajuk

With a background in Architecture, Zuhal sinks her teeth into various photography, video and architecture projects while remaining utterly reflective and infused into the creative process. Her photography speaks the message of hopefulness while being sheathed in a spirit of melancholic existentialism. Take a look below to see the world through the eyes of a young, relentless photographer and keep reading to learn more about Zuhal’s story.

With Istanbul being a part of your roots do you feel that your cultural heritage has made a mark on your creative expression?

My parents moved from Istanbul to Fredericia back in the 70s, so I was born in a small town in southern Jutland in 1988. My dad, who was a welder, always spent his spare time nerding in his wood workshop in the basement. It was my haven; I often snuck down there to help him with smaller tasks. One day, I found a camera between the shelves and he showed me how to use it. That’s how I was introduced to photography when I was only 5 years old.

During my architecture studies in 2013, I moved to Istanbul to work. I discovered parts of my roots that I felt strongly connected to and it has affected my photography a lot emotionally. In that period, I developed a documentary style in my photography which I feel is honest and authentic. They reflect emotions of existentialism, melancholy, hopefulness and passion.

Do you recall a memorable moment when you realised that photography was going to be a major tool of self expression in your creative path?

One day my mom came into my room while I was working and said: “Zuhal, you know it’s 05:30 in the morning, right?” I turned around, looked at her and said; “Mom, this will bear fruit soon. I will show you.” The next week I got an offer to exhibit my photos in Istanbul. I was 16, and it was my first time abroad alone and first exhibition ever.

What camera and lenses do you primarily work with?

I am really passionate about the processes of analogue photography. My favourite camera is Nikon FM2 with a 50mm lens, and I use Fujifilm and Kodak films for coloured shots, and Ilford for black and white. Everything is manual; the shutter speed, the aperture, ISO and focus. The uncertainty of how the photos will turn out is both paranoid and exciting at the same time. I love the fact that it is not an easy process and that you need to be patient and hopeful during the time of waiting for the results.

Recently I have used expired Kodak films for my professional analogue shots which means that the white areas in the photos turn pink. When you add a filter on a photo in Photoshop, you must have a reason for it. But with analogue photography you can lay back and watch what the chemicals did  for you.

What is your vital source of inspiration? What triggers you to photograph?

Cinema inspires me a lot, specially black and white movies because of the reduced information we must relate to as an audience. What I really love about B/W photography is how the monochrome effect highlights details, even the source of light. The architect Hiroshi Sambuichi says; “light is a moving material”; Light is an intangible and impermanent material that changes everything it touches in time and space. This is an important feature in my own photography.

One Billion Rising is all about embracing creativity as the great force that has potential to bring change into the world. Do you relate to this statement in your creative work?

I started expressing myself through imagery at a very young age. Drawings, photos, collages. I spent my childhood and teenage years indulging in art, drawing, jewellery and guitar courses, acting, singing and performing. I feel lucky to have been born in a country, where I had the freedom to experiment with my hobbies until I found my real passion. Photography is my language, and I wouldn’t be able to communicate without it. I will always use it as a tool to express my inner world, my identity and my visions. I believe art is a necessity for a society in order to remind ourselves, that we are not automated creatures, but individuals with a deep emotional world. If I touch people with my photography, I feel fulfilled.

Zuhal’s vernissage will be held at Villa Kultur from February 23rd to March 15th.

Explore more of Zuhal Kocan’s work at http://zuhalkocan.com/