Ara Güler

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Ara Güler
Ara Guler.JPG
Born (1928-08-16) August 16, 1928 (age 90)
Residence Istanbul
Occupation Photojournalist
Awards Master of Leica, Légion d'honneur, Grand Prize of Culture and Arts, Lucie Award

Ara Güler (Armenian: Արա Կիւլեր, born August 16, 1928 in Beyoğlu, Istanbul, Turkey) is an Armenian-Turkish photojournalist, nicknamed "the Eye of Istanbul" or "the Photographer of Istanbul".[1][2] He is considered one of Turkey's few internationally known photographers.[3]

Early life[edit]

Güler was born in Istanbul in 1928 to ethnic Armenian parents. He studied at the local Getronagan Armenian High School.[4] Owner of a pharmacy on Istiklal Avenue, his father had a wide circle of friends from the art world of the period. Ara Güler's early contact with this world inspired him to embark on a career in cinema. 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 studying 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.)[1][2]

Photography career[edit]

In 1958, the American magazine company Time–Life opened a branch in Turkey, and Güler became its first correspondent for the Near East. Soon he received commissions from Paris Match, Stern, and The Sunday Times in London. After completing his military service in 1961, Güler was employed by the Turkish magazine Hayat as head of its photographic department.[1][2]

About this time, he 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). He was presented in the British 1961 Photography Yearbook. Also in that 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.[1][2]

In the 1960s, Güler's photographs were used to illustrate books by notable authors and were displayed at various exhibitions throughout the world. His 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. His 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.[1][2]

Güler traveled on assignment to Iran, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kenya, New Guinea, Borneo, as well as all parts of Turkey.[5] In the 1970s he 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.[1] Some 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.

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

Güler's work is 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.[6]

In the 1970s, Güler worked in film, directing the documentary The End of the Hero (1975). It was based on a fictional account of the dismantling of the World War I veteran battlecruiser TCG Yavuz.[7]

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 lists all of Guler's professional accomplishments while also providing rare insight into his personal life and his photographic legacy amounts to over two million stories told.[8]

Güler's archive contains some 800,000 photographic slides.[9]

Güler's 'philosophy' of photography[edit]

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. He believes that photography should provide a memory of people, of their lives and especially their suffering. While he considers that art lies, he believes that photography can only reflect reality. He embraces the identity of a photojournalist[10] because he does not attach much value to photography as an artistic pursuit, which to him would have little value. He does not consider photography to be an art.[11]

Publications (selected)[edit]

  • Ara Güler's Creative Americans.
  • Ara Güler: Photographs.
  • Ara Güler's Movie Directors.
  • Sinan: Architect of Süleyman the Magnificent.
  • Living in Turkey.


  • Öster om Eufrat, I Kurdernas Land (Swedish) by Barbro Karabuda, Tidens Förlag, Stockholm, Sweden (1960) 102pp
  • Marianna Norris, Young Turkey, Children of Turkey at work and at play, (English), New York: Dodd, Mead, (1964)
  • Topkapı Sarayı - Sultan Portreleri, (Turkish) Doğan Kardeş Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1967)
  • Turkei, (German) Terra Magica, Munich, Germany (1970)
  • Hagia Sophia, (English) by Lord Kinross, New York: Newsweek Books, 1972
  • 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)
  • Turan Erol, Fikret Mualla, (Turkish), Cem Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1980)
  • Turan Erol, Bedri Rahmi, (Turkish), Cem Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1984)
  • Aptullah Kuran, Mimar Sinan (Turkish), Hürriyet Vakfı Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1986)
  • Aptullah Kuran, Mimar Sinan, (English), Washington D.C.: Institute of Turkish Studies, 1987
  • Ara Güler'in Sinamacıları, (Turkish) Hil Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1989)[12]
  • Halkarnas Balıkçısı (Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı), T.C. Dışişleri, The Sixth Continent, Bakanlığı Kültür Dairesi, Ankara, Turkey (1991)
  • John Freely, Augusto Romano Burelli, Sinan: Architect of Suleyman the Magnificent and the Ottoman Golden Age, (English), London: Thames and Hudson, 1992. ISBN 0-500-34120-6
  • Stephane Yerasimos, Living in Turkey, (English), London and New York: Thames & Hudson, 1992
  • Stephane Yerasimos, Demeures Ottomans de Turquie, (French), Paris: Albin Michel, 1992
  • Stephane Yerasimos, Turkish Style,(English), Singapore: Archipelago Press, 1992
  • Eski İstanbul Anıları, (Turkish), Dünya Şirketler Grubu, Istanbul, Turkey (1994)[13]
  • 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)[13]
  • Yüzlerinde Yeryüzü (Turkish), Ana Yayıncılık, Istanbul, Turkey (1995)[13]
  • Babil'den Sonra Yaşayacağız, (Turkish) Aras Yayınları, Istanbul, Turkey (1996)[13]



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Ara Güler'in Hayatı" (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 29 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ara Güler Kimdir?" (in Turkish). Ara Güler. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  3. ^ Kettmann, Steve (2005-09-25). "A Photo Show on a Pogrom 50 Years Ago Is Itself Attacked by a Mob". New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Getronagan Armenian High School". Getronagan Armenian High School: Official Website. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Dosyalar-Ara Güler" (in Turkish). Yapı. Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  6. ^ "Ara Güler" (in Turkish). Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  7. ^ Karadenizli, Elif (2005-10-14). "Ankara University Faculty of Communications hosts world famous photographers". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  8. ^ PHOTOJOURNALIST: The Life Story of Ara Guler ISBN 1543129447, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First edition (February 2017)
  9. ^ Kürkçüoğlu, S. Sabri (May 2002). "Türkiye'de Yüzyılın Fotoğrafçısı Ara Güler ile Urfa, Harran ve Nemrut Üzerine Söyleşi" (in Turkish). Hezarfen-Paralax. Archived from the original on 10 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  10. ^ a b Nimit Seker, "A City, Beautifully Blemished", review of Ara Güler's Istanbul,, 26.08.2010
  11. ^ "Ara Guler: Visual chronicler of our age". Fusun OZBILGEN.
  12. ^ "Ara Güler Kitapları" (in Turkish). Yem Kitabevi. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Ara Güler Kitapları" (in Turkish). Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Ara Güler'in Aldığı Başlıca Ödülleri" (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 29 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  15. ^ "7th Annual Lucie Awards". Women In Photography International. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 

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