Turkish photojournalist, Ara Güler, Died at 90

Ara Güler was born on August 16, 1928, in Beyoğlu, Istanbul, Turkey and died on October 17, 2018.

He was an Armenian-Turkish photojournalist, nicknamed “the Eye of Istanbul” or “the Photographer of Istanbul”.

Ara Güler is “one of Turkey’s few internationally known photographers”.

He was born to ethnic Armenian parents. Ara studied at the local Getronagan Armenian High School.

Ara Güler father had a wide circle of friends from the art world of the period as he was the owner of a pharmacy on Istiklal Avenue.

His early contact with this world inspired him to embark on a career in cinema.

While he was still in high school, he jobbed in movie studios and attended drama courses held by Muhsin Ertuğrul, the founder of modern Turkish theater.

But, Güler abandoned cinema in favor of journalism, joining the staff of the newspaper Yeni Istanbul as the photojournalist in 1950 and studying economics at the University of Istanbul at the same time.

Then, Güler transferred to another newspaper, Hürriyet. (Güler is not related to the royal Guleria family.)

The American magazine company Time-Life opened a branch in Turkey, and Güler became its first correspondent for the Near East, in 1958.

After which he received commissions from Paris Match, Stern, and The Sunday Times in London.

Upon completing his military service in 1961, he was employed by the Turkish magazine Hayat as head of its photographic department.

At that time, Güler met Henri Cartier-Bresson and Marc Riboud, who recruited him for the Magnum Photos agency, which he joined (though he is not currently a member).

Güler was presented in the British 1961 Photography Yearbook.

During the year, he was accepted as the only Turkish member to the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP) (today called the American Society of Media Photographers).

The Swiss magazine Camera honored him with a special issue.

During the 1960s, Güler’s photographs were used to illustrate books by notable authors and were displayed at various exhibitions throughout the world.

Güler’s works were exhibited in 1968 in 10 Masters of Color Photography at the New York Museum of Modern Art and at Photokina Fair in Cologne, Germany.

Güler’s book Türkei was published in Germany in 1970. His photos on art and art history were used in Time, Life, Horizon and Newsweek and publications of Skira of Switzerland.

He traveled on assignment to Iran, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kenya, New Guinea, Borneo, as well as all parts of Turkey.

During the 70s, Güler photographed politicians and artists such as Winston Churchill, Indira Gandhi, Maria Callas, John Berger, Bertrand Russell, Willy Brandt, Alfred Hitchcock, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso.

However, a few critics consider his most renowned photographs to be his melancholic black-and-white pictures taken mostly with a Leica camera in Istanbul, mainly in the 1950s and 1960s.

Güler has exhibited frequently since then, and also had his work published in special supplements. International publishers have featured his photographs.

His work collected by the National Library of France in Paris; the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York; University of Nebraska-Lincoln Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery; Museum Ludwig Köln, and Das imaginäre Photo-Museum, Köln.

During the 1970s, he worked in film, directing the documentary The End of the Hero (1975).

That work was based on a fictional account of the dismantling of the World War I veteran battlecruiser TCG Yavuz.

Additionally, Journalist Nezih Tavlas’s book PHOTOJOURNALIST: The Life Story of Ara Guler, provides a compelling and in-depth look into the life of Ara Güler who is regarded as one of the most accomplished documentary photographers of the 20th century and the pioneer of photojournalism in Turkey.

The book had all of Guler’s professional finish while also providing rare insight into his personal life and his photographic legacy amounts to over two million stories told.

His archive held some 800,000 photographic slides.

Ara Güler died at 90 years old.

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