photography has started to be consumed more rapidly in social media which has become a visual dump
In a world where we are inundated with countless images, Serkan Çolak is always looking for the mystical or mysterious in everyday life. Whether it’s school children, strangers or these days, migrants arriving in droves, Çolak strives to capture the authentic moment.
There seem to be stories behind all of your photographs, leaving the viewer wanting to know more about the scene or moment. What kinds of stories do you like to tell?
I produce photographic documentaries on various topics or subjects such as city life, settlers, personal identity, and human rights. I spend a lot of time on the streets taking pictures. I try to take pictures that reflect how I feel at that very moment. The pictures I take reflect my heart and soul. These are the feelings that I try to express through photography.
Tell us about the Mahzen Photos collective, of which you are a founding member.
Mahzen Photos was founded by the photographers who gathered together with the idea of joint solidarity and communizing their generations in the documentary photograph area in 2013. In terms of bearing witness to time and developing social awareness, it is a photography collective producing in the documentary sector with the idea that photography has an important power.
“Consumption” is one of the major problems in today’s world, and it evokes itself in photographs. With each passing day, an increasing number of people taking photos has enabled the photograph, which is accepted as an elitist field, to expand to the bottom. As a result of the breaking of the monopoly in the field and easy accessibility to the photograph, it has started to be consumed more rapidly in social media which has become a visual dump.
In a world where the individual has become more passive, and social media has filled their heads with images offered by the system, it has become the only way of seeing. There is a need to understand, perceive and explain the entire reality.
Mahzen photographers act with the opinion of being always ready to work with new photographers to produce new work and act together, and expand the collective circle rather than being a closed group from today to tomorrow.
In many of your photographs there’s some sort of distortion. What is the reasoning behind this affect?
Life is full of mysteries. Life is mystic. I believe that if we don’t go after the things in life that are mysterious and intriguing, and if we don’t try to explain or understand the mysterious things around us, our only option would be to believe in God. I like the feeling of this. I love being caught in this because this is what keeps us on our feet. This feeling keeps us going.
What role does photography play for you in developing social awareness?
I think that the photographer is hidden in his pictures. Photographs identify the photographer. And I am a communist. Even if you take photographs of someone else, there is something there that reflects the photographer. And, it should be this way. You must make the viewer feel this. If you can, then for me that isn’t a well taken photograph.
Serkan Çolak was born in Balikesir, Turkey. After living in several regions of Turkey, he settled in Izmir in 2004. He is interested on documentary photography since then. His projects deals with different topics such as urbanization process and focus on issues around cultural diversity and human rights in Turkey. When he’s not on the street taking photographs, Serkan is a primary school teacher and holds photography workshops for kids. His photos were exhibited in several cities in Turkey, Great Britain, Ukraine, Mexico and Uruguay. He is co-founder of Mahzen Photos collective. www.mahzenphotos.com