Ara Güler

Istanbul Street Officially Named after Armenian Photographer Ara Guler

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ISTANBUL (Public Radio of Armenia) — Tosbaga Street in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul, Turkey, has formally been named after famous Istanbul Armenian photographer Ara Güler.

Güler photographed the sign of the street named after him and posted it on his Twitter account.

Güler has lived at this street for many years, and his photo studio is also located there.

Güler, who was recognized as “Photographer of the Century” and is also known as the “Eye of Istanbul,” was born in the city in 1928. He began his journalistic career in 1950, he has received many Turkish and international awards and titles, and he has photographed numerous world-renowned personalities.

He studied at Getronagan Armenian High School. His father owned a pharmacy, but had many friends that belonged to the world of art. Ara Güler came into contact with these people and they inspired him to opt for a career in films/cinema. He worked in film studios and joined courses of drama under Muhsin Ertugrul. Later, he leaned towards journalism and abandoned cinema. In 1950, he joined Yeni Istanbul, a Turkish newspaper, as a photojournalist. During the same time, he studied economics from University of Istanbul. Then he started working for Hürriyet.

In 1958 when Time-Life, the American publication, opened its bureau in Turkey, Güler became its initial correspondent. Soon enough he started to get commissioned by other international magazines, such as Stern, Paris Match and Sunday Times, London. In 1961, he was hired by Hayat magazine as the chief photographer.

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In this time, he met Marc Riboud and Henri Cartier-Bresson, who recruited him to join Magnum Photos. Güler was presented in 1961 British Photography Yearbook. In the same year, the American Society of Magazine Photographers made him the first Turkish photographer to become the member of this organization.

In the 1960s, Güler’s work was used in books by notable authors as a means of illustration and were shown at different exhibitions around the world. In 1968, his work was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in a show called, Ten Masters of Color Photography. Moreover, his photographs were also shown in Cologne’s fair, Photokina in Germany. Two years later, Türkei, his photography album was published. His images related to art and its history were featured in magazines, like Horizon, Life, Time, and Newsweek.

Güler traveled for photography assignments to countries, such as Kenya, Borneo, New Guinea, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Iran and other cities of Turkey. In 1970s, he also took photography interviews with noteworthy artists and politicians, like Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, Ansel Adams, Alfred Hitchcock, Imogen Cunningham, Willy Brandt, John Berger, Maria Callas, Bertrand Russell, Pablo Picasso, Indira Gandhi, and Winston Churchill.

His work is included in the collections of institutions worldwide, such as Paris’s National Library of France; New York’s George Eastman Museum; Das imaginäre Photo-Museum; Museum Ludwig Köln; and Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery.

Foto Muhabiri, a book by Nezih Tavlas recounts the life of Ara in a chronological method and the book also highlights 80 years in the history of Turkey.

Ara’s philosophy on photography is that he attaches great importance to the presence of humans in photography and considers himself as a visual historian. According to him, photography should provide people with memory of their suffering and their life. He feels that art can lie but photography only reflects the reality. He does not value art in photography so he prefers photojournalism.

He has won several awards for his work, including Turkey’s Photographer of the Century, 1999; Master of Leica, 1962; France’s Légion d’honneur; Lifetime Achievement Lucie Award, 2009; and Turkey’s Grand Prize of Culture and Arts, 2005. In 2004, he was give honorary fellowship by Istanbul’s Yildiz Technical University.

Güler also published books of his photographs, including Living in Turkey; Sinan: Architect of Süleyman the Magnificent; Ara Güler’s Creative Americans; Ara Güler’s Movie Directors; and Ara Güler: Photographs.

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