A while back, I submitted six photographs from my Passing Through Anatolia series to a contest on LensCulture mainly to support their work. Another incentive was a review of the submission if I submitted 5+ images, and I did want a real review as they promised. A week or two ago, I received a note that the image review of my submission was available for me to read.
I am sharing the review not only because I enjoyed the comments and the words the anonymous reviewer wrote but also to let other interested photographers read as a way of looking and reading photographs. I need to clarify one thing, the reviewer mentions that had I submitted them as a series they would even be stronger. Truth be told, I thought I was doing that, but I probably clicked on the wrong button, or put a checkmark in the wrong box. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the commentary.
Here are the photographs, Somewhere in Anatolia, followed by the review. My thanks to the reviewer!
Thank you for sharing your work by submitting to Lens Culture. I can see some beautiful pictures here, and it seems to me you are a talented photographer with high aesthetic criteria and a thoughtful and organized person. Your images are individual shots, but most of them are shared common features as their balanced compositions, their artistic quality, and also same subject, aesthetic and presentation. This is great because it testifies to the existence of the same person behind the camera.
These landscapes could belong to a series talking about your thoughts we read in the statement. If you had submitted them as a series with a title and the submitted statement and not as individual images, your work would become stronger, and the jury would pay attention to the content and your relationship with it. This does not happen when judges have to see single images where they look more for external virtues as technical excellence, aesthetic quality, autonomy, and originality because the number of the single submitted images is significant. Of course, your pictures have most of the above virtues and can stand perfectly as individual images. However, their opportunities are fewer because they have to compete with images that are impressive and with more considerable originality in the subject and its approach even if they do not have the depth and the sensitivity of yours. For this reason, I suggest you resubmit your work in the future to the series category.
It is remarkable the perfect way you have composed your pictures and their clarity while you were on a moving train. The color palette is attractive and relaxing, and the whole atmosphere exudes a sense of freedom and meditation. The repetition of the wide frames gives a cinematic sense to the work and strengthens the concept of travel. Your presence is dominant in these images even you have not realized it yet. We can learn things about you, and we can build the content of the collection in this basis: These are pictures shot by a sensitive, calm, stable, organized person with open horizons and spirituality. As you understand, I could not say anything from the above if I had started to speak for every one of your images separately. It would be easy for me because I could tell only kind words about them (they worth it anyway) but my role here is to help you see your work critically and go forward by speaking to you openly and honestly. Many photographers are only asking for kind words, but I think these are not enough if you want to help someone. I hope you agree.
However, I do not want you to think I avoid talking about your pictures and indeed if I needed to choose one it would be difficult since objectively everyone is impeccable. So, I would say that I am more affected by 3 and 4.
Cemal, you are a promising photographer. You have the talent and the aesthetic criteria for creating a remarkable work if you continue shooting, but in my opinion, you have to show it as it deserves. Through a series that speak on a subject of your interest through your visual style. Single images cannot help you to distinguish at a higher level even if you reward a single image category contest. Everyone can make beautiful pictures but cannot create a challenging story. Nowadays with an enormous amount of individual images uploaded every day, talented photographers should express their thoughts and concerns through projects consisting of a series of pictures. Think about it.
Overall, my engagement with your work was an exciting and pleasant experience. I wish you good luck, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from you in the future.
See below some useful recommendations
Recommended Books & Photographers
Ways of Seeing, by John Berger
The Artist Statement: How and Why to Write Yours by Jennifer Schwartz
The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression, by Bruce Barnbaum
Doing Documentary Work, by Robert Coles
Street Photography and the Poetic Image, by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb
Street Photography Now, by Sophie Howarth and Steve McLaren
Why People Photograph, by Robert Adams