Ara Güler

Ara Güler

Ara Güler (born August 16, 1928, Istanbul, Turkey) is a Turkish photojournalist of Armenian descent, nicknamed "the Eye of Istanbul" or "the Photographer of Istanbul".

Early life

Güler was born in Istanbul. His father owned a pharmacy on Istiklal Avenue and had a wide circle of friends from the art world of the period. Ara Güler's early contact with this art world motivated him to embark on a career in cinema. Already during his high school years, he jobbed in movie studios and attended drama courses held by Muhsin Ertuğrul, the founder of modern Turkish theater. However, he abandoned cinema in favor of journalism, joining the staff of the newspaper "Yeni Istanbul" as photojournalist in 1950 and studied Economics at the University of Istanbul at the same time. He then transferred to another newspaper, "Hürriyet".Güler is not related to the royal Guleria family.

Photography career

In 1958, the American magazine "Time-Life" opened a branch in Turkey, for which Güler became its first correspondent for the Near East. Soon followed commissions for some other international media like "Paris Match" (French magazine), "Stern" (German magazine) and "Sunday Times" (English newspaper). After completing his military service in 1961, he was employed by the Turkish magazine "Hayat " as head of the photographic department.

It was around this period that he met Henri Cartier-Bresson and Marc Riboud, who both encouraged him to join the Magnum Photos agency, which he did. He is not currently a member of Magnum. He was presented in the British "1961 Photography Yearbook". Also in that year, he was accepted as the first and only Turkish member to the ASMP, the American Society of Magazine Photographers (today American Society for Media Photographers). The Swiss magazine "Camera" honored him with a special issue.

In the 1960s, Ara Güler's photographs illustrated books of notable authors and were put on display at various expositions throughout the world. His works were exhibited 1968 in "10 Masters of Color Photography" at the New York Museum of Modern Art and at Fotokina Fair in Cologne, Germany. His photo album "Türkei" was published in Germany in 1970. His photos on art and art history were used in "Time-Life", "Horizon" and "Newsweek" magazines and Skira Editore of Switzerland.

Ara Güler traveled to all corners of the world, such countries as Iran, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kenya, New Guinea, Borneo and all parts of Turkey. In the 1970s he held photographic interviews with such famous personalities 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, his most renowned photographs remain those melancholic black and white pictures taken mostly with a Leica camera in Istanbul mainly in the 1950s and 1960s, golden age of photojournalism.

Since then, his work has been the subject of exhibitions and special supplements, and the world's most famous publishers have featured his photographs.

He also directed a documentary movie entitled "The End of the Hero" in 1975, based on a fictional account of the dismantling of the World War I veteran battlecruiser "TCG Yavuz".

"Ara Güler's Creative Americans", "Ara Güler: Photographs", "Ara Güler's Movie Directors", "Sinan: Architect of Süleyman the Magnificent", and "Living in Turkey" are among the books of Güler's works published in France, the USA, England and Singapore. He also has an 800,000-piece photographic slide archive.

Most of these photographs are in museums and libraries abroad such as 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.

Güler's 'philosophy' of photography

Güler attaches the greatest importance to human presence in his photographs and describes himself as a "visual historian". "When I'm taking a picture of Aya Sofia, what counts is the person passing by who stands for life", he said. According to him, photography should provide a memory of people, of their lives and especially their suffering. While he considers that art lies, photography to him can only reflect reality. Thus in his case, one should speak of photojournalism rather than photography as an artistic pursuit, which to him would have little value. Indeed, he does not consider photography as an art.


* "Öster om Eufrat, I Kurdernas Land" (Swedish) by Barbro Karabuda, Tidens Förlag, Stockholm, Sweden (1960) 102pp
* "Young Turkey, Children of Turkey at work and at play" (English) by Marianna Norris, Dodd, Mead, New York, USA (1964) 64pp
* "Topkapı Sarayı - Sultan Portreleri" (Turkish) Doğan Kardeş Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1967)
* "Turkei" (German) Terra Magica, Munich, Germany (1970)
* "Hagia Sophia" (English) by Lord Kinross, Newsweek Books, New York, USA (1972) 172pp
* "The Splendor of Islamic Calligraphy" (English) Thames & Hudson, London, UK (1976)
* Harems (English) Chene & Hudson, London, UK (1976)
* "Fotoğraflar" (Turkish) Milliyet Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1980)
* "Fikret Mualla" (Turkish) by Turan Erol, Cem Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1980)
* "Bedri Rahmi" (Turkish) by Turan Erol, Cem Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1984)
* "Mimar Sinan" (Turkish) by Prof. Abdullah Kuran, Hürriyet Vakfı Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1986)
* "Mimar Sinan" (English) by Prof. Abdullah Kuran, Institute of Turkish Studies, Washington D.C., USA (1987)
* "Ara Güler'in Sinamacıları" (Turkish) Hil Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1989)
* "The Sixth Continent" by Halkarnas Balıkçısı (Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı), T.C. Dışişleri Bakanlığı Kültür Dairesi, Ankara, Turkey (1991)
*"Sinan: Architect of Suleyman the Magnificent and the Ottoman Golden Age" (English) by John Freely, Augusto Romano Burelli Thames and Hudson, London, UK (1992) ISBN 0-500-34120-6
* "Living in Turkey" (English) by Stephane Yerasimos, Thames & Hudson, London and New York (1992) 223pp
* "Demeures Ottomans de Turquie" (French) by Stephane Yerasimos, Albin Michel, Paris, France (1992)
* "Turkish Style" (English) by Stephane Yerasimos, Archipelago Press, Singapore (1992)
* "Eski İstanbul Anıları" (Turkish) Dünya Şirketler Grubu, Istanbul, Turkey (1994)
*" A Photographical Sketch on Lost Istanbul" (English) Dünya Şirketler Grubu, Istanbul, Turkey (1994)
* "Bir Devir Böyle Geçti, Kalanlara Selam Olsun" (Turkish) Ana Yayıncılık, Istanbul, Turkey (1994)
* "Yitirilmiş Renkler" (Turkish) Dünya Şirketler Grubu, İstanbul, Turkey (1995)
* "Yüzlerinde Yeryüzü" (Turkish) Ana Yayıncılık, Istanbul, Turkey (1995)
* "Babil'den Sonra Yaşayacağız" (Turkish) Aras Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1996)


* "International Photography Year Book" Star Photographers, UK and Canada (1961)
* "Camera Magazine" (Special issue), Lucern, Switzerland (February 1962)
* "Leica Fotografie" Nr. 2 Germany (1962)
* "Katalog, Weltausstellung der Fotografie Fotokina" by Dr. Karl Pavek, Cologne, Germany (1963)
* "Camera Magazine" Nr. 6 (Special Turkish Photography) Switzerland (June 1966)
* "Sunday Journal" Lincoln, Nebraska, USA (September 11, 1966)
* "British Journal of Photography Annual"London, UK (1967)
* "Photography of the World" Orion Press, Tokyo, Japan (1967)
* "2. Weltausstellung der Fotografie, "Die Frau" by Dr. Karl Pavek, Cologne, Germany (1968)
* "Photographie Italiana" by Lanfranco Colombo, p.127, Milano, Italy (March 1968)
* "Photographare Magazine" by Romanof Fea, Rome, Italy (November 1968)
* "Historie de la Photographie "Quw Sais-je?" by Jean A.Leim, Press Universitaire de France
* "Milliyet Sanat Dergisi" Nr. 2, Istanbul, (October 6, 1972)
* "Buried Cities and Ancient Treasures" (on Aphrodisias) by Dora Jane Hamblin, p.192, Simon and Schulster, New York, USA (1973)
* "People Magazine" New York, USA (October 28, 1974)
* "Creative Americans" (Catalogue) Romeo E. Martinez, U.S.I.S. (1975)
* Camera Magazine, Elite World Photographers-1", Lucerne, Switzerland (November 1975)
* "Photo Cinema" p.82, Paris, France (June 1976)
* "Leica Fotografie" Nr. 5, by Fritz Kempe, Frankfurt, Germany (1976
* "Yeni Fotograf Dergisi" Sayı 1, Istanbul, Turkey (October 1976)
* "Camera Magazine" Lucern, Switzerland (February 1977)
* "Saudi Gazette" Saudi Arabia, (May 1979)
* "Dumont Foto 2, Fotokunst und Fotodesign International, Das Antlitz im Wandel der Zeit" by Fritz Gruber, Cologne, Germany (1980)
* "Popular Photographie" by John Morris, USA (1980)
* "Dumont Foto 3" by Renate & L. Fritz Gruber, Das imaginäre Photo-Museum, Cologne, Germany (1981)
* "Photography Annual" New York, USA (1981)
* "Photographer's Encyclopedia International" Vol. 1, Michelle ve Michael Auer, Edition Camera Obscura, Switzerland (1985)
* "Catalogue 6emes Journees International de la Photo et de L'audiovisuel" by Alain Gheerbrant, Montpellier, France (1985)
* "Leica Fotografie" p.18, Frankfurt, Germany (1987)
* "Aamulehti" Tempere, Finland (1989)
* "Helsingin Sonamat" Helsinki, Finland (April 1989)
* "Kamera" Nr. 3, Finland (1989)
* "Contreplongee Revue du Cinema et Culture", Nr. 19, Strasbourg, France (March 1990)
* "Fotograf Sanat Dergisi" Sayı 9, Istanbul, Turkey (June 1989)
* "Time & Time International Book Review" Nr. 31, (about the book "Sinan") New York, USA (August 3, 1992)
* "Bitmeyen Roportaj Istanbul", (Exposition catalogue), Istanbul, Turkey (April 1993)
* "Photographers International" Nr. 14,(Chinese - English), Taipei, Taiwan (June 1994)
* "PDN - Photo District News Magazine, Ara Güler: Reality, History and Lost Istanbul" p.43, by Mark Simon, USA, (August 1995)
* "Mediterranee Magazine, Pieton d'Istanbul" Nr. 13, by Pierre Sorgue, France (March 1996)
* "Matador Magazine, Ara Güler "Estambul: La Puerta Del Mas Alla" Vol. B, Madrid, Spain (1996)
* "Photographie des 20, Jahrhunderts" (German) Museum Ludwig Cologne, Germany, Edition Taschen (1997)
* "Turkey's Passionate Interpreter to the World" by Stephen Kinzer, New York Times, USA (April 13, 1997)
* "Interpreting Turkey: A Master's Vision" by Stephen Kinzer, International Herald Tribune, Paris, France (April 16, 1997)


* Master of Leica (1962)
* Légion d'honneur, France
* Grand Prize of Culture and Arts, Turkey (November 11, 2005)

Honorary doctorate

* Yıldız Technical University, Istanbul (June 8, 2004)

External links

* [ Website on Ara Güler] tr icon

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