How photography came to Turkey
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How photography came to Turkey ?   


     Photography first came to Turkey at the end of the 19th century. Of course, Muslims objected to this, and didn’t want to embrace photography which is why first Ottoman photographers were not Muslims, and neither were first models photographed.

Studios started spreading all over Istanbul over years, but at first, without Muslim support and help.

First photo studios, however, were not Istanbul based. They were mostly positioned in the provincial parts of Turkey, and in cities such as Izmir and Salonika.
Bahaeddin Bey is the name of the first photographer with an Istanbul based studio. He didn’t open studio in the biggest city at first. He started developing his photo-business from Crete, then transferred to Izmir and after that opened a first photo-studio in Istanbul, in Cagaoglu Hill in number 59.

That was the first studio in Istanbul and numerous were opened in future years, but the one with most success was a studio opened by Ferit Ibrahim Bey. He was an innovator and has dedicated decades to development and promotion of new and upcoming art form – photography.

He was a famous photographer, worked as a war reporter and for numerous newspaper too, part time worked as a cinema operator and musician and painter (he was a person with many talents and strong creativity, no doubt). Ferit Ibrahim Bey has founded the first club for photo-enthusiasts in Turkey, proclaimed the club leaders, and finally opening its door for photographers in Istanbul, on September 9th, 1908.

This amazing man – Ferit Ibrahim Bey, studied Law during his school years, but always showed great love and appreciation for art. His first camera was a gift from his mother, who always encouraged his love for art, and his passion to learn and try new things. He was very passionate and interested in trends coming from abroad, so he frequently bought foreign magazines and books about photography and modern art, and learned about it. He later applied those trends on his work, and so many of his photographs ended up being published in European and Turkish best magazines.

Since his business was progressing, he decided to open a new modern photo-studio in Beyoglu, in 1919. Beyoglu became famous because there were already different photo-studios there, owned and operated by non-Muslim society.

Six years later Ferit Ibrahim Bey, received a very interesting offer from none other than Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who offered him to become an official presidential photographer, and also gave him a first task – to make a film about the city of Ankara.

Although his studio in Beyoglu was very successful and important for the development of photography on a national level, Ferit Ibrahim Bey decided to close it and move to Ankara in 1925. There, he was working as an official photographer for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, photographing him and his guests on numerous occasions. After getting tired of it, he decided to quit the job (with Ataturk’s blessing) and head back to Beyoglu, to open another photo-studio on Istiklal Caddesi. The most important photo he had there was a portrait taken by him, showing Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, with emperor’s signature.

The studio in Beyoglu was a place where photographers gathered to talk, to read about photography, to take an advice from famous Ferit Ibrahim Bey, buy equipment and work further on developing their skills.

After finishing his professional career, Ferit Ibrahim Bey moved away to Kadikoy, where he also had a (smaller) studio, and died in 1953. His son continued in his father’s footsteps, and continued to work in Ankara, helping the development of photography in Turkey.

The story about the first photographer in Turkey - Ferit Ibrahim Bey, and his first and most successful studio in Beyoglu, is very important for understanding what this art form went through, during the bumpy years of development at the beginning of the 20th century.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of Ferit Ibrahim Bey, and his hard work, Turkey eventually embraced photography, and started seeing how useful and important it is!

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