March 23, 2022
Photography by Asli Gonen
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Asli Gonen was always drawn to art, and when the digital age dawned she noticed a new way to express her creativity - photography. She signed up for various photography websites, eagerly learning about the art of street photography, and soon she decided to take the plunge and purchase a camera of her own. Now, when Asli is out and about her small hometown in Central Anatolia, Turkey, she captures those fleeting moments of beauty that often go unnoticed in our hurried, everyday lives. Asli Gonen is a photographer who knows how to appreciate the little things, and her photographs tell stories of joy and contentment.
“I like to be on the street all the time, day and night, summer and winter, and be prepared for surprises. In fact, I like to come home tired, sometimes empty-handed, not knowing what to expect. In order not to miss a moment, I always carry my machine in my bag, meanwhile I can say that I have gained a lot of arm muscle. Here, too, I wanted to show those brief moments that caught my attention in the streets I encountered at various times.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH ASLI GONEN
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Asli, how did you become interested in photography?
ASLI GONEN: It started when I discovered a photography site on the Internet. I subscribed to the site first and just watched for a long time. Then I bought a small compact machine saying why not.
TPL: How have the streets and culture you capture influence your photography? How have your captures changed the way you see Turkey?
AG: Actually, I can say that I am a bit unlucky because I live in a small city, but still, Eskişehir is a city that offers me ample opportunities due to the high population of young people. It is also a chance for me to have to travel sometimes due to my job. I can also document different lives and cultures. As a result, the streets are always interesting wherever we are.
TPL: What are some tips or advice you would give yourself if you started photography all over again?
AG: If I had my current mind, I would definitely take a picture of a moment without thinking, I would come back later, I would not say that I will take it later, because the same place, the same light, in short, the current conditions may not be in place, I made this mistake a lot in the beginning.
TPL: Do you ever get burnt out creatively? Explain how you keep the creative energy flowing.
AG: Of course, sometimes I feel like I'm in a vicious circle, repeating myself and losing my motivation. But every time I take my machine in my hand and go out to the street, I feel happy as if I have just started, that is enough for me.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists?
AG: Photographers such as Ara Güler, Trent Parke, Lee Friedlander, Vivian Maier, Saul Leiter, Elliott Erwitt have been my inspiration.
When I go out, I just go wherever the light takes me.
TPL: If you could just choose one photographer to shoot alongside for a day...who would you choose? And why?
AG: Definitely would be Saul Leiter. Because as Saul Leiter said, “I happen to believe in the beauty of simple things. I believe that the most uninteresting thing can be very interesting.”
By adopting this saying as my philosophy, I try to discover those short moments and beauties in our daily rush.
TPL: When you are out shooting - how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
AG: When I go out, I just go wherever the light takes me.
TPL: Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
AG: I am using Fujifilm X-M1. Since it is a mirrorless camera, I can shoot lighter and without disturbing people. My lens is 16-50 mm, it does my job very comfortably.
TPL: What are some of your goals as an artist or photographer? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
AG: Photography for me is a way of expressing myself and a hobby I love. I don't have big plans and ambitions in this regard, to be honest, but who wouldn't want a photo book, or an exhibition.
TPL: You are the founding member of @womeninstreetturkey. Tell us about the collective and why you started the project. What do you want the collective to achieve?
AG: We, the five members who are from different walks of life and from different cities with different backgrounds, established the @womeninstreetturkey. We think women should be more visible in our country and we personally try to be examples of women individuals who can exist in different fields of life. We try to promote examples of talented women street photographers from Turkey and the world.
In fact, we have all been involved with photography for many years, but with the birth of contemporary street photography and its spread in Turkey, the increasing interest has affected us as well, but the number of women taking street photos in this sense is quite low in Turkey. We brought this idea to life in early 2021. We decided to set up @womeninstreetturkey.
Although we live in different cities of Turkey, we plan to come together after the disappearance of the pandemic and organize photography trips and even workshops. Currently, our hands are tied, but we continue to photograph the places, streets and people we live in whenever we can. Even in the days of curfew, we try to create various opportunities for ourselves by using light, shadow and reflection even in our homes... Photography is always with us, wherever we are...
TPL: "When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
AG: I like to spend time with my family and cook."