Derya Turgut: Food Photography
As a food photographer who always captures the latest exciting trends in the Turkish culinary scene, Derya Turgut tells her minimalist approach to food photography and her all-time favorites to have a “taste” of Istanbul.
“First, a few appetizers like Circassian chicken, stuffed mussels, lakerda (pickled bonito), iced almonds on elegant tiles, and then the rakı. As the main course, lamb cooked in lettuce and fresh spring herbs would be fine. For the dessert, pudding with Ottoman strawberries.
How did you learn to “see”?
I started photography as a hobby. First I got a Nikon, then enrolled in a course. The first thing we did was to hit the streets for a photo safari in Beyoğlu, Eminönü and Balat. Everyone was shooting children playing around or old folks. I said to myself: “I don’t want to take these kinds of pictures!” and I quit photography for a while. After studying gastronomy at the Istanbul Culinary Institute, I decided to shift to styling and food photography. I was in search of a minimal approach and natural light itself. Although I studied studio photography, I have never been attracted to the idea of shooting in artificial environments. Food looks at its best under natural light, so I merged my two passions in food photography.
STREETS A FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER LOVES
Which neighborhood does your heart belong to?
I was born in Çiçekçi, at Üsküdar. My mom and dad used to work, so the grocer of the neighborhood was responsible to watch out for me, while the wife of my father’s barber would take care of me. We’ve been living in Topağacı at Nişantaşı district for the last 7 years. I lived in gated communities in Etiler and Göktürk as well, though I love the fabric of the neighborhood. Here you have the same pharmacist for 40 years, there the electrician for 30 years, and so is the greengrocer next to him. We have good relations with all, and the pharmacist takes care of our cats when we are away.
What is your favorite street?
Nowadays I love Meşrutiyet Street -I have a new photo studio there. It has some of the most beautiful and characteristic buildings of the city. There are little shops under almost all of them. Here you have Comedus -the neighborhood deli selling good local wines and cheese. Just next to it, you would find the internationally acclaimed bag designer Misela and a new-age small tavern called Aheste, offering amazing Turkish mezzes. Adahan is the place to stay here, with its amazing historic building and rooftop restaurant. Vitruta is a concept store that recently opened its gates, selling street fashion with a Scandinavian twist. Miss Pizza is also waiting for you at the Şişhane entrance of the metro. On the other end of the road, Soho House and Pera Palace are grand dames not to miss. It is a street where the modern and the old are blended in a fabulous way and you are still far from the chaos of İstiklal Street!
What would you put on a table summarizing Istanbul?
If it is springtime, I would use purple artichoke blooms as part of the decor on a white linen table. First, a few appetizers like Circassian chicken, stuffed mussels, lakerda (pickled bonito), iced almonds on elegant tiles, and then the rakı. As the main course, lamb cooked in lettuce and fresh spring herbs would be fine. For the dessert, pudding with Ottoman strawberries.
Where would you take your friends out for a nice meal?
I hate suggesting kebap as the first option, but it would be Zübeyir Ocakbaşı anyway, to introduce them to the classic kebaps served instantly by a fireside. Yeni Lokanta is still the best to introduce them to a more refined form of Turkish food. Antakya ravioli, homemade sucuk (spicy Turkish sausages) on a puree of cranberry beans and kısır (bulgur salad) with sour cherries. For tasting the fine and crusty Turkish “pizza” called lahmacun, I would take them to Tatbak. For traditional home cooking, I would choose Hünkar, where one could have a steady taste in classical dishes like “karnıyarık” and “hünkarbeğendi”. For a variety, I would get across the Bosphorus to visit Basta in Kadıköy, where one could try the best versions of Turkish street food like “kokoreç” and “dürüm”, together with baked rice pudding served with hazelnuts.
Any young chef you admire right now?
Pınar Taşdemir, who opened Araka on her own without any investors at a nice side-street of Yeniköy. The place offers a limited but creative menu based on seasonal local ingredients.
To follow food photography of Derya Turgut: www.deryaturgut.com