Photographer: Emir Eralp

(Interview follows photo series)


One can almost hear the chaos of it: the assistants manning the lights and fans; makeup artists frenetically finalizing hours of work before the look is just right, and the echo of Emir Eralp’s directions to his models and subjects on set. This is because whether a pensive portrait of one, or an animated portrait of several, the photography of Emir Eralp has the aura of perfection.

The reality? There is no set. Or makeup artists. Or lights. And there are no orders being barked out at his subjects.

Imagista sat down with this image auteur for an exclusive look at his portfolio of portraits. The oxymoron here? Eralp has mastered the art of intentionally accidental or accidental by design. Shot almost entirely on the legendary 35mm film camera, the Contax T2, Emir’s creative process is such that it’s hard to distinguish his “stolen“ portraits of celebrities from his actual assigned sessions. And that’s entirely the point. The results are captivating images that feel more like encounters than formalized sittings.

Emir prefers shooting film over digital for his portraits and personal work. “Shooting film is so much nicer,” he told Imagista, “but it’s impossible to shoot jobs on it. Jobs are always digital. Sadly we’re so used to digital now that we tend to forget how good film looks. Digital is fine for clients as it offers them instant reassurance, but film just looks way, way better.”

Emir, who grew up in Turkey, cites the early 1990’s grunge era in music, and 1995’s avant-guard Danish film movement Dogme 95 as his major influences. On the other hand, when it came to photography back in those days, Emir reflected, “Images were highly art-directed in the 90s; whereas now, there’s a strong movement towards more relaxed images, images that take themselves less seriously.”

Intentional or not, we’re sure you will agree — the talent of Emir Eralp is no accident.