Nuri Bilge Ceylan is known for his atmospheric shots of landscapes in rural Turkey – notably in Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (2011) and the Palme d’Or-winning Winter Sleep (2014).
Every director undergoes training in his or her own way: some soak up knowledge by volunteering at cinematheques while others blossom as they make a living driving cabs. In the case of celebrated Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the catalyst was the magazine and photography archive at the library of Boğaziçi University, where he spent hours in the dark room as a student, perfecting his cinematic approach. It’s no surprise, then, that pausing any random scene in his movies will give you an image with impeccable composition. And it should be no surprise that Ceylan has produced a book of still photographs that express his spirit without the need for plot or dialogue
Now, the filmmaker’s photographs – starting with those he shot in Cappadocia in 2003 after wrapping up work on Distant – are gathered in a book designed by Bülent Erkmen. Just like Ceylan’s films, the 100 panoramic photographs taken in different regions throughout Turkey, between 2003-2009; from Istanbul to Lake Van and Şanlıurfa to Manisa, highlight the geography with people at its core, and feel a little like slides in the View-Master glasses that some of us might remember from childhood – each photo has an intensity of light and composition that you can look into for hours.
Ceylan was taking his machine before his film Climates after a long break and most of these photographs in the book were taken during the director’s search for space for the film and exhibited first at the Thessaloniki Film Festival in November 2006.
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Photographs © Nuri Bilge Ceylan