Abseits der Zeit

  • 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.
  • 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.