Photojournalist Sedat Suna

Interview: Nezih Tavlas / May 19, 2021

“A photo has to change something”

(Courtesy of Sedat Suna)

Photojournalism News: What drew you to photojournalism?

Sedat Suna: Actually, I had no dream of being a photojournalist. My journey started in 2004 with NarPhotos, which Turkey's first collective photography agency. In those years, I met the unique world of photojournalism. I had the opportunity to work for a global agency when EPA Turkey Cheif Kerim Okten, whom we passed away in 2014, invited me to the EPA. After Kerim and EPA touching my life, I decided to become a photojournalist. There is the touch of Kerim in every photograph of me. I am still trying to continue with the same excitement. Witnessing, producing my own stories, and touching the truth are the reasons that push me to become a photojournalist.

Photojournalism News: What equipment do you use? Do you have a favourite lens/camera?

Sedat Suna: I try to choose equipment suitable for my stories and the field. 35mm, 85mm and 24mm are my favorite lenses. 35mm lens is always with me.

Photojournalism News: What social media platforms do you use?

Sedat Suna: I use Twitter and Instagram.

Photojournalism News: How do you prepare yourself before any assignment? What would you put in your camera bag for a typical task?

Sedat Suna: First of all, I try to learn the subject as much as I can. I need to know the working conditions in the field. I need to know the ways to reach the main theme of the story. First of all, I have to decide how to tell the story. I can tell a good story with strong preparation. Usually 2 cameras are always with me. I choose the lenses according to the originality of the story.

Photojournalism News: How would you best describe your style of work? What are you trying to say with your photography?

Sedat Suna: Every photojournalist tries to create a unique language of expression. I generally focus on the other side of Turkey. Every story that is informal, excluded, not wanted to see, not accepted is workable for me. I focus on these kinds of stories. In short, I'm trying to show the other side of official stories.

Photojournalism News: How many photos do you take for one story?

Sedat Suna: As I work on the story, I see how many photos I need. The photo count is revealed when the story is over. I can not give a specific number. I try to make pictures that are as effective and different from each other as possible.

Photojournalism News: What is the last trip you made?

Sedat Suna: Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, I have not been able to leave Istanbul much for 1 year. At the beginning of 2020, I was on duty in the Syrian border and the refugee crisis on the Turkish-Greek border.

Photojournalism News: What projects will you be working on next?

Sedat Suna: Turkey is an ideal country for news photography. We are in the middle of countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Greece. Almost all countries have problems with each other. Last year, while shooting the champions league match, I found myself on the Syrian border on the morning of the same night. I went directly from the Syrian border to the Greek border. I think my next story will be about "others" again.

Photojournalism News: Which of your photographs would you describe as your favourite? What makes them so special to you?

Sedat Suna: I think the photos I took in Syria and the Gezi protests as news photos. In addition to these, the photo stories I made about violence against women and LGBT community in Turkey. These are my favorites as I have worked up close and for a long time.

Photojournalism News: What message do you want your photos to convey?

Sedat Suna: I was there, I saw it, you see it too

(Courtesy of Sedat Suna)

Photojournalism News: What does a photo need to be a great in your eyes?

Sedat Suna: I don't think there is a single answer to this question. Sometimes the photojournalist creates a great photo. Sometimes the story presents a great visual, independent of you. Almost all photojournalists work on similar topics in or outside of their own country. War, hunger, protest, climate change, refugee crisis etc. The best part of our work is that the photograph described as "great" will always be even greater. There's no limit to being "great".

Photojournalism News: In the digital age people consume billions of photos every single day, under the circumstances what could make a photo memorable?

Sedat Suna: For a photo to be memorable, it has to change something.

Photojournalism News: What motivates you to continue taking pictures and what do you do to keep motivated?

Sedat Suna: My biggest motivation is not knowing where I will be tomorrow. Due to this possibility, my camera bag is always with me.

Photojournalism News: What was the biggest professional risk you have taken and what was the outcome?

Sedat Suna: I tried to cross the Syrian border with a smuggler and had to wait in the dark of night for hours near the YPG and ISIS area. I guess I got five years old in those few hours :)

Photojournalism News: What would be your dream assignment?

Sedat Suna: It's very difficult question.

Photojournalism News: What are the essential skills/ qualities a photojournalist should have?

Sedat Suna: Needs to be aware of her/himself. She/He must know what it will cost to do. Should take responsibility. She/He must be a strict story follower. Communication should be strong. First of all, she/he must convince her/himself and always think differently.

Photojournalism News: What do you think about the digital manipulation of images?

Sedat Suna: We will always face this problem as digitalization continues. Newspapers and agencies should not tolerate manipulation. We can reduce this problem with sanctions.

Photojournalism News: What does it mean to be an ethical photojournalist?

Sedat Suna: The photojournalist who never compromises the truth is an ethical photographer

Photojournalism News: How do you see the role of photojournalism evolving in the world? Do you think photojournalism is losing its importance?

Sedat Suna: Photojournalists will exist as humanity needs to see. I think the importance of photography will never diminish even if our role continues to change.

Photojournalism News: Do you have any advice for aspiring photojournalists?

Sedat Suna: My motto is; hurry up slowly :)))

Sedat Suna

Sedat Suna was born southeast of Turkey in Gaziantep city. He graduated high school in Gaziantep. He moved to Istanbul at 2001 and started Dicle News Agency as a reporter. He has collaborated NarPhotos Photo Agency between 2004-2005 as stringer. He started to work for EPA- European Pressphoto Agency in 2006, joined staff photographer crew in 2013. He still produces news photos and photo stories for EPA.