Şeniz Yörük has participated in various photography exhibits and international festivals. Her photographs are in private collections worldwide. She shares with us how her interest in photography developed, how photography can connect travellers to a destination and her favourite holiday spots.
What have been your impressions of India? What are the similarities between Turkey and India?
I feel privileged to live in India and try to get the most of this opportunity, be it getting to know the rich cultural heritage and as a photographer I enjoy savouring what I call the “visual energy” that India has to offer. India and Turkey have a lot of similarities.
When I first came to India in 2007, I had the opportunity to contribute as a photographer to a great book project entitled “Indo-Turkish Architecture”. This book academically illustrates the similarities between the two architectural styles comparing monuments from Central Asia, Turkey and India.
It would be interesting to know that a scientific study showed that there are almost 9000 words in common between Turkish and the languages spoken in India. Even only this fact shows how close our cultures are to each other.
How were you first introduced to photography and the creative arts?
My father was an enthusiastic hobbyist photographer. My mother is a painter. Living in a house full of art gave me an artistic perspective from the beginning.
I welcome every photographic opportunity from recording a moment in my life to the most subliminal landscape. I define my photography as “travel photography” in a broader sense because life is a journey to try and capture the moments that I encounter during my own journey.
How has being married to a diplomat influenced your photographic and cultural outlook of the world?
It has given me the opportunity to get to know different continents, geographies, climates, cultures from up close.
Wherever we live on our postings, we are neither tourists nor permanent residents. I think this adds a unique perspective to my photography.
Which locations of Turkey do you recommend to the aspiring travel photographer?
Just like India, Turkey is a photographer’s delight with the ever photogenic Istanbul, turquiose blue waters of the Mediterranean, patchwork of prairie landscapes in the Central Anatolian countryside, unique architecture of the old city of Mardin, famous sunrise near the ruins of Nemrut, wonderful mountain landscapes of the Black Sea highlands, wind eroded rock formations of Cappadocia and the list goes on.
How can tourism boards and destinations use photography as a tool to establish their presence in India?
I think photography really has the power to transport you to places. In tourism brochures and posters and other printed material, I personally prefer photographs with a natural feel rather than digital collages.
With the advent of digital cameras, photography has become even more accessible than before to everybody. Organizing photo contests is a popular way of promoting countries and locations through photography.
In September 2010, you held a photography exhibition showcasing India. Tell us about this and the various other exhibits and international festivals which you have participated in.Our exhibition entitled “India in Motion” was special to us because it was our first in India and our first photo exhibition together with my husband. After 3 years, we wanted to share our visual experience of India in India. It was very well attended and received and also enjoyed great media coverage. We also took the same exhibition to the “Pune Unplugged” festival in October 2010.
Other exhibitions that I have participated in are:
· March 2005, Seasons of Canada, National Press Club, Ottawa, Canada
· December 2006, DIMED Exhibition Transparan Art Gallery, Ankara, Turkey
· June 2007 Turco-Greek Friendship Festival Photo Exhibition, Antalya- Turkey, Rhodes-Greece
· Mart 2009, Colours of the World, Bakrac Art Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
· February 2010, Turkish Festival at Hyatt Regency, Mumbai, India
· August 2010, Doruk Art Gallery, Summer Exhibition, Istanbul, Turkey
Which attractions of Turkey would you recommend for a romantic holiday?
I would recommend having a romantic dinner in the restaurant in Leander’s Tower (aka Maiden’s Tower, Kiz Kulesi in Turkish) which is a 2500 year old tower on an islet at the entrance of the Bosphorus from the Marmara Sea.
You will be literally between Asia and Europe enjoying a breathtaking view of both continents. If you go there during early afternoon the light and the view gets better and better from a beautiful sunset to the illuminiated skyline of Istanbul’s historical peninsula. Historically, the tower was believed to be built around 408 BC, and rebuilt and restored many times since then. It had been used as a lighthouse and a watchtower, and now is being used for touristic purposes where you can take a boat to the tower and have your breakfast or dinner.Another romantic option is spending time in front of the fireplace in one of the restored old Turkish homes in the town of Safranbolu. The whole town of Safranbolu makes you feel you have entered a time machine and transports you to a bygone era where life was much simpler and slower than it is today.
Which are the special interest tours that you would recommend to Indian visitors to experience the true flavours of Turkey?
I would recommend Blue voyage, cultural tours, adventure tourism, religious tours, organic farm stays to wine tastings and art festivals. Something I would personally love to do is horseback riding in Cappadocia.
I would also recommend Sebi Aruz, the Urs of Rumi, Konya in December of which the highlight is the Whirling Dervishes ceremony.
Which are your favourite holiday destinations in Turkey?
In Turkey, we are blessed with one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. So for every Turkish family spending a beach holiday on the Aegean and Mediterrean coasts to recharge the batteries is a must.
These days, besides the traditional seaside holiday, more and more people are also opting for alternative holidays. Our favourite as a couple is the Black Sea region. The Black Sea region is the northern part of Turkey with a mountainous landscape and the most dense forest areas thanks to its abundant rainfall throughout the year. As a gift of its unique geography, it has a distinctive culture of its own. When we spend a week in Naldehra, Shimla we found it to be a very similar landscape to the highland villages of the Black Sea region in Turkey.
In the Black Sea region rather than spending time in the city, we like to head to the mountains right away. We like to spend at least a week of trekking from one highland village to the other. We love chatting with the locals over the locally grown black tea and accepting their offers of local snacks made of corn flour, home-made butter and cheese. We enjoy the breathtaking landscape, walking literally on top of the clouds, the local hospitality and food and even an impromptu night of local “horon” dance and music whenever the occasion arises.
Which are your favourite holiday destinations in India?
To the traveller at heart, India offers so many possibilities. It is almost frustrating to know you will never have enough time to do justice.
My personal favourite is Rajasthan. Every city, every village has its own unique characteristics – the beauty of the rugged landscape, colourful men and grace and beauty of the local women, Rajasthani dances and music.
What is your message to readers and how can photography be used as a medium to bring out their creativity?
I believe that everybody is a photographer. From the moment we are born we take mental images of our surroundings. When one decides to be a photographer the only thing that is left to do is to learn how the camera sees things differently than our eye. Being a photographer is a mental state more than anything.
Photographs courtesy of Şeniz Yörük (www.senizyoruk.com)