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  • Filip Hrebenda

Aytek Cetin

Aytek Cetin

Since last month, we've been bringing you interviews with inspiring authors in the field of landscape photography on the Landscape Nomads blog. In May, we talked to a talented photographer from Turkey - Aytek Cetin. You may know this name thanks to the worldwide competition "International Landscape Photographer Of The Year (ILPOTY)," which Aytek won in 2021. Where did this award take Aytek? How are his compositions created? What is his approach to photo editing? And does he consider his homeland (Turkey) suitable for exploration by a landscape photographer? You'll find out in this interview.

In recent years, you have become a prominent figure in landscape photography world. Therefore, we are very pleased that you have accepted our invitation for an interview as the photographer of the month. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in landscape photography?

I was born and raised in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. I can say that my interest in landscape photography first started when I was working in the private sector. I bought my first camera in 2012, but since I was working hard at that time, I had very few opportunities to take photographs, and I usually spent my holidays in seaside places. After a while, this started to dissatisfy me, and I wanted to explore and photograph more remote mountainous and forested areas. The more I explored and photographed, the more I realized that I enjoyed it, and over the years, this turned into a great passion for me.

Where do you draw inspiration for your landscape photography? Do you have any favorite contemporary artists?

The scenes that attracted me the most from the beginning were the dramatic and mysterious mountainscapes and the vast deserts. When we look at today, there are many successful landscape photographers, but the ones whose styles I have liked the most since the early days of my photography are Max Rive and Marc Adamus.

In your portfolio, we can see many photographs from Turkey. I think most of us, before discovering your work, didn't even know that it's such a diverse country. What do you think makes Turkey exceptional from the perspective of a landscape photographer?

If we consider it from the perspective of a landscape photographer, Turkey is a country that offers immense diversity. Surrounded by sea on three sides, you witness lush forests, mountains, and countless glacial lakes when you gaze toward the north and northeast. You see drier, otherworldly rock formations and geological structures when you look down. And when you look south, you see the seas, encompassed by mountains. Overall, I can confidently say that Turkey is a wonderful place for landscape photography.

Aytek Cetin

"Rebirth" / Turkey       © Aytek Cetin

So, do you think Turkey is a country that should be on the travel list of a landscape photographer?

Definitely! If you are a landscape photographer, you should at least see the unique green valleys, mountains, and glacial lakes of the Black Sea region, and of course the fairy tale fairy chimneys of Cappadocia!

Aytek Cetin

"Spring Daisies" / Turkey © Aytek Cetin

I've noticed that you also enjoy traveling. Which country has impressed you the most as a photographer? Where would you like to return, and why?

In terms of photographic diversity, I believe the Caucasus Mountains are unparalleled. The foreground is dotted with numerous objects, while deep and lush valleys, streams, and impressive glacial mountains make up the background, sometimes shrouded in fog. If we set aside its deserts, I would argue that Saudi Arabia comes in second with its mountains boasting unearthly shapes that should be seen to be believed.

Aytek Cetin

"The Silence Of Magnificence"         ©Aytek Cetin

When I am selecting the elements for my composition, I take great care to ensure that they are in harmony with each other.

Your work is characterized by intriguing compositions. What is most important to you when selecting a composition? Could you briefly walk us through your composition selection process?

When I am selecting the elements for my composition, I take great care to ensure that they are in harmony with each other. Usually, the primary subject in my photo is placed in the background, so I look for secondary objects that can guide the viewer's eye towards the main subject. These can include guiding lines, water sources, and more. Additionally, I pay close attention to symmetry, as I want all the elements in my photo to be balanced and symmetrical. To achieve this, I seek out objects that contain diagonal and vertical lines, as well as V-shaped objects to serve as auxiliary elements.

Aytek Cetin

"Jurrasic world" / Turkey © Aytek Cetin

And what about post-processing? It's an inseparable part of photography today. From your photographs, it's evident that you approach it with creativity. Is there something for you that is already a 'no-go' in terms of post-processing? A line you don't want to cross?

When I edit my photos, I enjoy tweaking the color tones and the light-shadow transitions to suit my personal preferences. Typically, I adjust the lighting to emphasize the main subject and darken the entire photo to achieve a more dramatic effect. Additionally, I take care to make adjustments that enhance the sense of depth and three-dimensionality and bring out the overall mood of the image. However, I do not add any permanent objects that were not originally present, except for light transitions and atmospheric effects.

Aytek Cetin

"Knife mountain" / Saudi Arabia © Aytek Cetin

In 2021, you received the award 'The International Landscape Photographer Of The Year' for your work. Did it propel you somewhere? Have you received any new professional opportunities thanks to it?

I am delighted to have won the International Landscape Photographer of the Year award. This prestigious and notable award has brought me many benefits and I am extremely proud of it. It was an incredible feeling to see my name and photos published in newspapers and news pages all over the world. It also allowed me to connect with other photographers and opened up more opportunities for me. I am happy to meet people from different countries who come to Turkey to take photographs together and receive field training. I can also say that people's interest in my photography trips and online courses has increased greatly.

Regarding the presentation of your work, can we find your photographs exhibited somewhere? Or do you prefer social media and a website?

To be honest, I had never considered showcasing my photographs in an art gallery before due to time constraints. However, it is something I want to do in the future. Additionally, the idea of compiling a book featuring my photographs may also arise in the future. Currently, I am sharing my work with my followers through my website and social media accounts.

Aytek Cetin

"The Vast Cathedral" / Iran © Aytek Cetin

Are there any lessons or mistakes from your career that you think could benefit others?

If you are going on a photography trip and your friend is not a photographer, he/she will have difficulty adjusting to you, think about this again. Rather than going on a journey with an incompatible friend, go alone.

Approaching landscape photography with passion and a love for the craft is crucial to achieving success. Rather than focusing solely on making money, consider it a hobby that brings you joy.

Based on that, what advice would you give to beginning landscape photographers who want to improve?

Approaching landscape photography with passion and a love for the craft is crucial to achieving success. Rather than focusing solely on making money, consider it a hobby that brings you joy. By doing so, you can avoid disappointment and allow success to come naturally. It is also important to find new and unique perspectives to capture the beauty of nature. With creativity and originality, you can produce works of art that surprise and inspire viewers. Don't be afraid to take risks and explore uncharted territories; true beauty lies there...

Aytek Cetin

"Darkening" / Nepal © Aytek Cetin

What can we expect from you in the coming years? Do you have any other photographic projects planned?

I plan to visit many new countries in the coming years, and my priority will be the less photographed regions. Asia, Europe, and South America are among my plans.

Thank you for your inspiring words, Aytek! We wish you continued success on your next adventures.

We believe that this interview has captured your interest. You can find more from Aytek at the following links:

Enjoy the selection of Aytek's work:

(All pictures are original work of © Aytek Cetin. For purchasing prints or other services, contact him through his website:

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