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Abseits der Zeit / Beyond Time
The German High School of Istanbul, one of the most prominent schools in Turkey was founded in 1868. Pera region, where the school is located, was also the center of photography, which was in its development stage in Istanbul. The most important photography studios of the time like, Abdullah Frères, and Sébah & Joaillier were just a couple of steps away from the German High School.

My journey in photography started after 115 years in the same region--i.e. German High School. Haluk Eser, our literature teacher, was also a talented photographer and the school had a spectacular darkroom. We learned all the fundamental photographic processes, developed our own film and made silver gelatin prints. I have never forgotten the excitement I felt when I saw the appearance of an image on photographic paper for the first time. I believe my longing to those darkroom days was the driving force for my return to analog photography after a long computer engineering career.

As part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the German High School of Istanbul I was given the opportunity to make photographs of the school from which I graduated 32 years ago. As a practitioner of historic photographic processes, I decided to make this series using wet collodion and albumen print techniques which were widely used when the school was founded. I also used antique lenses from the same period.
10.00089.051868 10.00088.01Schulstrasse II 10.00089.05150 10.00088.01Aula
10.00089.05Bekir Bey 10.00088.01Bibliothek 10.00089.05Logo 10.00088.01Portal
10.00089.05Sébah & Joaillier 10.00088.01Lehrerzimmer 10.00089.0512D 10.00088.01Defne & Burhan
10.00089.05Mühlbauer 10.00088.01Fluchtweg 10.00089.05Mädchen Turnhalle 10.00088.01Schulstrasse I
We encountered our first surprise when we arrived at the school with our van full of photographic equipment: the school’s security guard Mahmut, who was in charge of preventing us from escaping the school was still at his post and was now preventing us from entering the school. After a few phone calls we were able to enter the school and start a thirteen day long photographic journey.

The school had changed dramatically in the course of time: classrooms with high ceilings, especially the glorious physics and chemistry auditoriums were replaced by ordinary classrooms. The large wooden classroom doors, one which had cost me a disciplinary penalty because of kicking, were no more. Our spectacular darkroom was transformed into a storage and the girl’s gym into a cafeteria; a beautiful library was formed in the attic. Breaks have become shorter, number of classes have increased... Fortunately the music hall Aula was in its place as magnificent as before. Despite all those changes the school managed to preserve its character. I could still feel stomachache when passing by the headmaster’s room.

At the end of the thirteen day long, time travel-like photo session we made over one hundred positive and negative glass plates. After numerous extensive darkroom sessions, we came up with sixteen timeless albumen prints made from those glass plates. I wish German High School students and graduates who view these photographs feel the same joy and excitement I felt while creating them.

I would like to thank my assistant Hande Varsat, who has given as much effort as myself during all the stages of the project; all my associates at lebriz.com, especially Hava Kablan and Engin Çalık, who have provided all the necessary logistic and technical support; all the German High School team, especially Didem Veyisoğlu, Turkish Headmistress and Haldun Soykan, Administrative Manager, who have given all the required support during the project; to Pınar Ervardar, Sema Sevgen and German School Alumni Association, who have ignited this project; to Haluk Eser, who made me love photography and all my teachers at German High School and especially to my wife Mutlu and my son Alp, who gave their support all the time.