By Julian Lucas
Akif Hakan Celebi is a photographer I have followed for over 13 years - during the early years of social media platforms. Akif is a Turkish American who travels through countries and captures personalities which tell his stories. His travels give us clear evidence of his versatility through the lens.
Today we see images from other photographers that are similar to your work from over 10 years ago such as Kinbaku. How do you feel about this?
Kinbaku has been photographed for over 50 years mainly in Japan, but it has been introduced to the western photographic world in the last 5 years.I am happy to see more people are being aware of the elegance of Japanese rope bondage and photographing it. This way it has also gained the 'art' status rather than 'porn' as many people thought before. The actual process of Kinbaku can be very sexual but in photographs I think it is very graceful.
What were your earlier influences?
I have been a movie buff all my life and my main inspirations come from Asian movie directors like Wong Kar Wai, Park Chan Wook, Takeshi Miike, Kim Ki Duk, Shuji Terayama and western directors like Gaspar Noe, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu . Illustrators like Toshio Saeki and Suehiro Maruo has also been important influencers.
How has your work evolved over the years?
I think after I moved to Hong Kong, I have established my own style more clearly there. The environment I live also helped quite a lot. It also made me get into photographing more documentary style street photographs. I feel I am still improving in my post processing technique and there is no end to learning. I have also started doing lots of analog and instant film works, so I have become a multi dimensional photographer in the last 6 years or so and I am producing works constantly .
Tell us about a time when a project became a bit challenging.
Since I do lots of outside photography, the only challenge would be the weather conditions, whether it is cold or raining in the last minute , but I always shoot around it to make it work so I don;t think I have been challenged so much in my career since I know exactly what i want to shoot and how I want to do it before hand. I also use only natural light, so I am very light when I shoot and can be very mobile.
I have been following your work since 2004. I find myself going back to a particular series every time I visit your website. The series includes a girl in a bedroom full of smoke with a SWORD FISH shopping bag. Please share the story behind the series.
First of all thank you for following my work for all this time as I have started photography in 2004, so you have been one of my longest followers. That photograph you mentioned is taken in Osaka in 2006. It was my second time in Japan and I have actually met the model on the streets of Shinsaibashi near Amerika Mura when I was doing Japanese Street Fashion Portraits. After taking a snapshot of her on the street, I had given her my contact info to see if she is interested in doing more detailed photo shooting. She did not speak any English but after a few days she texted me and said she is interested. We made a date and went to a love hotel in Dotonbori area to do the shooting. Love hotels in Japan have the best interiors for this purpose. They are cheap and can be rented for 3 hours with many different styled rooms and lots of creative ones as well. The room we rented was an SM room, so the main subject of the shoot was evolved around that, however during the shooting she wanted to take a break to have a smoke by the window. That's when I clicked my shutter to take that shot. I think before she met me she was shopping because that is the shopping area of Osaka, and Sword Fish is the name of the shop around there.
Your image "Like a Bad Girls Should" is in Dian Hansen's "Lesbians for Men" book published by Taschen. How did this come about? Your work has also been featured in many publications. Which of those are you most proud of?
Dian contacted me by email and asked me if I am interested to be included in her upcoming book. I was happy to be included with the likes of Nobuyoshi Araki, Kishin Shinoyama and other photography influencers in the same publication.
I think one of the publications I am proud of the most has to be American Photo magazine choosing one of my photos asa first runner up for their photos of the year issue in 2011.
You have an extensive body of work - any future plans for a book?
I think I can publish at least 20 different books with the work I have accumulated over the years, I am constantly shooting and travelling. All this time, I did not have time to think about publishing a book as it takes lots of dedication for the right design , choosing the right photos and so on. I always wait for someone else coming to me with an offer to publish my book and worry about that but so far I did not have any book publishers approaching me. Although , I have recently talked about publishing my first book finally with a bookseller friend of mine , so let's see how it goes.
Your most favorite photobook...
All Araki books and I have some signed ones.