Tural Rahmanli

Gubadli, Azerbaijan

Tural Rahmanli was born in Azerbaijan / Karabakh region. He is an Azerbaijan photographer who focuses on the human aspects of political, social and cultural issues. 

He came to Istanbul for university in 2011 and became interested in photography through 2013 during the period in which he was studying. He has made photography a lifelong project, planning to shoot every single day, for the rest of his life. 

His work focuses on street and documentary photography.

Where are you from and where do you live now? Could you tell us a little about both?

I was born in Gubadli, Karabakh. Since the war started in the year I was born, my family and I moved to Sumgait, an industrial city near Baku. After finishing secondary education I went to Istanbul for my bachelor’s and master’s degree.

During the years I spent there, I became acquainted with photography and that’s how my introduction to photography began. After finishing my education, I returned to my country and now I am living again in Sumgait.

What drew you to photography? How did you start?

When I was a child, my family, noticing my interest in art, enrolled me in painting classes and I think that is the main reason how I came to photography. Visually putting what I saw or imagined on paper made me feel good. In parallel with painting, I began to love working with colors more because I was a carpet artist in that moment which made me want to reflect what I saw in a photo, especially colors.

Could you tell me about an experience photography has taken you through that has particularly marked you?

Being an introverted person, the reason I used photography as a means of communication started with the first camera I got from my father and after that it helped me a great deal to express myself.

The relationship between yourself and the places you photograph?

If we take it abstractly and concretely there is always a relationship between the spaces in my photos. The photos I take need time and space to remain. If this is a street photo, the relationship is usually spontaneous and accidental.

In other words this relationship also depends on the information and reminiscences that come from the memory while looking at the photos.

How have these places changed in recent years?

Generally, the choice of venue differs according to the project I am working on. Since I travel a lot, I always like to take photos in various locations and discover new places.

Being a street photographer how do you relate to your subjects? With what dynamics?

Actually, I think the topics are tools for me.

By adding aesthetic value to the subject, the street photographer does what he sees or wants to tell the audience through this subject.

Objects have meanings other than their use and they also serve to convey information. I think that the relationship between the subject and the photographer creates a unity in this context.

Would you tell me about an issue that is particularly close to your heart at the moment? Which themes influence your artistic research the most?

I think that living in an industrial city and growing up in a Post Soviet country that has come out of the war has an impact on my current and future projects because each of the factors I have listed have affected my life, memories and lifestyle.

Therefore, these aspects, which have been bothering me all this time give way to my future projects and I have been trying to explain them visually for years.

In which ways have these intense last few years changed your practice?

Due to the pandemic and the war in my country, like everyone else, I spent more of these years at home. This was unbearable for a street photographer but I took it as a chance to start the work I had been dreaming about of and founded the photo book publishing house called “SFE”.

What’s next?

To continue the projects I am working on, travel to post-Soviet countries and highlight their social and political problems after independence and to publish this project as a book. At the same time, I want to work on the distribution of photo zines and photo books of many photographers through SFE.

Where can we find you online?

Instagram @turalrahmanli