FEATURED MEMBER – Mehmet Demirci

Posted on February 10, 2011




Mehmet Demirci, born in 1978, is a Turkish journalist and photographer, currently based in New York. He is mostly noted for his war articles and photos from Iraq, Afghanistan. He is also very well known for his work on Darfur – Sudan conflict in 2004, on the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, on the USA Presidential election in 2008, and on the Haiti earthquake in 2010. He has worked in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, Cyprus, Sudan, Israel, Palestine, Bosnia, Greece, Guantanamo-Cuba and Turkey for ten years. He has received his BA in journalism from Ege University in Izmir, Turkey in 2000.



Q.  Do you have a favourite modern artist?
A.  I cannot say for sure if he is an artist but I like Sebastio Salgado’s work.

Q.  Who are the artists you admire and why?
A.  I admire Elliott Erwitt and Sebastio Salgado. They both have very unique perspectives that no one has with what they create.

Q.  What inspires your work?
A.  I cannot describe myself as an artist. I am a documentary photographer. Social struggles inspire me. I believe that if someone does not have a voice, my goal is to become his or her voice.

Q.  Is there a story behind your works?
A.  I was in Darfur six years ago for an assignment. I had a very small budget. I worked there  for three days. It was a tragic disaster and I was very upset after I saw the situation of the people. I wanted to help them a lot. When I went back to Turkey, my story came out in one of the national news magazines. A congressman read my story and decided to organize an aid program. He showed my story to other congress members. They collected almost half million dollars in total to make this aid program work. I was happy because my story has become one of the sources of this incredible human move.

Q.  When was your first exhibition?
A.  It was in 2002 and the subject was Turkey’s election adventure.

Q.  Did you face any challenges?
A.  Yes, so many times. If you work in Middle East you are always in trouble. I have worked in Iraq, Israel, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan etc…There were always obstacles.

Q.  What does art mean for you?
A.  I am not really an artist. I personally document what I see in the best way possible for me.

Q.  What does photography mean to you?
A.  It is my life style. I take photos for work and I also do it to recharge myself out of work.

Q.  What does photojournalism mean to you?
A.  The world needs photojournalism more than ever now. There are so many stories, which have never been told.

Q.  Do you have a favorite piece among your works?
A.  No, I do not have a favorite one.

Q.  What were your subjects when you first started out?
A.  When I first started photography, I was choosing more of travel and cultural subjects but when I got a job at a daily newspaper, my subject turned to news stuff.

Q.  Could you tell us a bit more about your creative process?
A.  I always prefer to know exactly the expectations of my editor or supervisor, so that I can do my assignment correctly and fully. All assignments are rewards to me. I always want to see more and take more pictures. I usually prepare myself for the assignment by looking at others works that have been done in the same location and try to figure out what is there for me to do differently than the others.

Q.  What equipment do you use and why?
A.  I have a 5D Mark II body, with these lens; 24-70mm f; 2.8   70-200mm f; 2.8   50mm  f; 1.8   16-35mm  f; 2.8  50 mm lensbabys. I believe they get my work done perfectly.

Q.   Can you talk about one of the strongest pieces you ever wrote?
A.  After the Saddam statue was fallen down, Baghdad was an unsolved murders’ centre.  I wrote a story about that. Almost every month, there were two thousand bodies that were collected from the streets of the city. I have patrolled with the American soldiers and visited the central morgue to check the statistics. This story was a very strong one because everybody was looking for Saddam and the numbers of deaths were increasing.

Q.  Are you working on new projects currently?
A.  I have just started a project about female boxers.

Q.  What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011?
A.  For the last one year and on, I have started making videos with my Canon 5D Mark 2. I would like to work on more projects such as short documentaries and movies.

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  I always want to see different works. I believe Pelime will provide that.


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