woman handing man in a boat a letter


Ara Güler (1928-2018) was a prominent photojournalist and a driving force in Turkish photography. Celebrated as ‘The Eye of Istanbul’, his poignant black and white images of this city’s inhabitants, streets and docks remain his most celebrated works. Ara Güler immortalized numerous famous artists and political figures throughout his illustrious career. 

Born only five years after the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Ara Güler documented the evolution of this young nation as it rose from the remains of the Ottoman Empire. For example, the rapid industrialisation of Turkey during the 1950s. Famous for his street photography in his beloved city of Istanbul, he consistently plays with light and shadow in his compositions, creating intimate and surprising snapshots of everyday life. His background in film and theater influenced his photographic language, creating iconic images similar to the styles of other internationally acclaimed photographers, such as Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier Bresson and Saul Leiter.

Ara Güler identified as a news photographer, a photojournalist, capturing historical events and daily life in Istanbul and beyond. Yet his oeuvre spans wider than this: his personal works show fascinating abstract and experimental work.

Tophane, Istanbul, 1958 © Ara Güler Museum, courtesy of Ara Güler.
The Golden Horn, Istanbul © Ara Güler Museum, courtesy of Ara Güler.
Old Galata Bridge, Istanbul, 1957 © Ara Güler/ Ara Güler Museum.
Ahmet Polat & Claartje van Dijk in Ara Güler: A Play of Light and Shadow (Hannibal, 2023)

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