Documentary photography in the rural areas of Turkey

I am Hasan Hüseyin Birlik, I am 31 years old and I live in Van province in eastern Turkey. I work as a Geological Engineer in a public institution. I love traveling and getting to know new cultures.

I started taking photos in 2013. In the first years, I was taking photos without any discrimination of subject, light and space. However, I was interested in the field of documentary photography because I thought that real photography should have traces from a current story and show them in the future.

I have used many different pieces of equipment in the past time. A little enthusiasm, a little love for technology. However, due to the huge load of equipment over time, I am careful to use a smaller size and lighter cameras. That’s why I use Fujifilm X-series cameras. In recent years I have been using the Fujifilm X-T2, X-T3, X-H1 and X100F models.

I used them with different type of lenses, and each of them gives a separate effect to the photo due to its features. However, the photos I take close to the subject affect me more. That’s why I like taking pictures with a 23mm (35mm FF) lens.

Almost all of the photos I took are of people living in eastern Turkey. I believe that the political, social and natural structure of this region shapes human life. There is a struggle in every field to sustain life.

The feeling that every frame I photographed actually contains a story and life makes me happy. People who live in the region where I live, especially in the countryside, love to host foreigners and offer treats.

This is a feature that affects and makes me happy even though I am not very foreign to the region. For this reason, all of the photographers who come to the region spend time here that they will never forget. But still, there are important places that I enjoy taking pictures.

The rural areas of Hakkari and Bitlis provinces are among the places I enjoy the most. These regions are almost virgin in terms of both nature and human life. I recommend visiting them for those who have the opportunity.

Even though the region where I live and photographed is sympathetic, sometimes I get reactions when taking photos of people, due to the unique ideological and political structure of the region. I regard these reactions as normal. I do not take pictures at the moment when there is a reaction.

But I try to establish a dialogue with people who react to indicate that I have no wrong purpose. They generally understand me. But it’s too late to photograph because there is no longer a trace of that moment and emotion.

I display my photos in either color or black and white, depending on the situation. But watching black and white photos makes me happier. I usually use Adobe Photoshop and sometimes mobile applications when processing photos.

Many photographers inspire me and lead me to develop and to get to know different cultures. Among them, especially the ones taking a social-documentary approach, and also street photographers.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present myself. Good luck.

"I am Hasan Hüseyin Birlik, I am 31 years old and I live in Van province in eastern Turkey. I work as a Geological Engineer in a public institution."

10 Comments

  1. Ok, I’m not always impressed by the images posted here. Not that they are bad, but quite often they lack that something that make them really stand out. Of course this is only my opinion, based on my own tastes.
    But looking at your pictures, I just couldn’t resist the urge to leave this comment – something I don’t do that often – to tell you how great I find them. In my opinion – again! – you are a very good photographer, capable of catching a honest glimpse of your country and its inhabitants.
    I really like your work. Well Done.

  2. What a beautiful selection of photographs. I enjoyed seeing the people of rural Turkey through your keen eye. Excellent work!

  3. These photographs truly move me. They are wonderful. In one sense they are old and with an editorial feel of the thirties, and with another view a purity of light similar to an Ansel Adams. I find them deeply enthralling and love to study them over and over. I find myself studying not only the people but their surroundings…even the rocks of their homes. Fine job.

  4. These are beautiful photos of the people and your country. Your sense of framing and the skillful use of tones in b&w make these photos special. Thank you for sharing these images!

  5. Dear Hasan, the second photo with the person riding in front of those sheep (?) is one marvel of a picture. Tessekür ederim.

  6. Your first three images are reminiscent of the style of Salgado, your photography is to be congratulated.
    I noticed that Ted Vieria has posted a positive comment, that in its self speaks volumes.

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