In Search for Unique Places – Photographer Guerel Sahin in an Interview

As one of the supreme creations of man, art is frequently considered the epitome of beauty. However, when we look beyond the artificial or hand-made, we can find unparalleled magnificence in the natural beauty of our planet.
German photographer Guerel Sahin seems to have the best of both worlds. On his travels and daredevil adventures, this master of the lens captures the grandeur of the Earth. Breathtaking landscapes, stunning cityscapes and moments from the exploration of the great outdoors make the oeuvre of Mr. Sahin, through which he captures purity and power of nature. Focusing on water and reflective surfaces in his landscape photography, this artist shifts his aim towards depicting the perfect geometry of man-made units in his cityscape scenes.

Whether they display glory of the open spaces or the brilliance of the most famous architectural wholes, all photographs Guerel Sahin creates possess the same experiential quality. Similar to visual portals, they transfer the viewer directly into the field of action, transmitting the very feeling the artist was subject to when grasping at such amazing views. Instantly, we are teleported to a distant shore, to a verge of a cliff or to a peaceful, romantic landscape that seems far too perfect to be real.

The upcoming edition of the KÖLNER LISTE will have the opportunity to host Guerel Sahin in its exhibition halls and a wide selection of his photographic work. In the interview with this renowned artist, we spoke about his approach to photography, some technical aspects, experiences and fascinations.

Guerel Sahin – Eternal Flame – Gruppo Del Odle, Seceda, Dolomites – Italy, 2016

Exploring the Great Outdoors as a Photographer

You travel, explore, hike and photograph, while carrying the equipment with you at all times. What is the most demanding physical aspect of your work?
If you want to get that one, perfect shot, you have to go beyond your physical limits. You have to get up very early in the morning and climb on top of mountains, cliffs or dunes, if you want to capture places not many people have seen before you. There is no single aspect which is most demanding. It’s the mixture of carrying heavy bags with you, while you keep pushing yourself and your body to the limits. But to go to your physical limits – while being able to capture unique moments in nature, you can only experience in this one, perfect instant – that’s what makes my job the best job in the world.

We see a lot of incredible views in your work. What is the most stunning landscape you’ve had the chance to photograph?
I have seen so many beautiful places that it’s really hard to choose the most stunning landscape. What I can say is, that I really fell in love with the Dolomites. The combination of green meadows, turquoise lakes, beautiful woods and fascinating rock formations make the Dolomites a really unique place.

When you shoot the vast panoramic scenes, how do you frame these images? Some of them seem like composed panoramas, while some retain that one-frame, almost painterly quality.
I like to put things in the middle of my pictures. One of the most important things for me is water. I love reflection and to focus on the horizon. It is the composure of those things that make my pictures complete.

Guerel Sahin – Horseshoe – Arizona, USA, 2016

Camera and Safety First

What kind of camera and lens do you use?
I use Canon cameras such as the Mark II and Mark III and I combine them mainly with Sigma Art lenses.

What is your opinion on the fact that more and more people get seriously hurt or worse when trying to make a spectacular selfie? Do you have any advice on how to stay safe and still get a great shot?
To be honest, sometimes it is hard to resist and you push yourself to shoot breathtaking images. But you have to know your limits and the best advice I can give is to get yourself good equipment. You need good shoes and good clothes for all weather conditions. But it doesn’t matter how spectacular a scene is, it is not worth to risk your life for it. When I travel with my team, I always make sure that everybody stays safe and we all watch each other’s backs.

We think that we know how impressive nature really is, but the live experience always surpasses any expectation. When seeing your photographs, it’s hard not to wonder – do you alter or polish them with Photoshop at all? If so, to what extent?
I always try to shoot my pictures under the best possible circumstances. The most important part is light and the best light for me is in the early mornings. When I follow these rules, I don’t have to edit to much. But of course I developed my own style and routine in the last couple of years and I finish every of my images in Photoshop and Lightroom.

Guerel Sahin – Brooklyn Bridge, 2016

Cityscapes, Art Fair and the Future

Is there any difference between photographing a cityscape or a landscape? What is your approach in one, what in the other instance?
When I shoot cityscape I always have a look at the architecture and straight lines with streets and buildings. I don’t want to distort what some architect created. When it comes to landscapes I always use wide-angles and try to find the perfect composition of nature.

KÖLNER LISTE is coming up this April and you will be one of the exhibitors. What are you planning to showcase at this young Cologne art fair?
I will show my whole spectrum of photography. You will see moments and places from the last four years. This includes landscape and architecture photographs from all over the world.

It seems that you’re always on the move. What will be the next stop for Guerel Sahin after the KÖLNER LISTE 2017?
My next stops after Kölner Liste will be Bolivia, Norway and Canada. I am really looking forward to travel to Asia, which is a huge point on my bucket list. And after all I am always looking for new challenges.

Photographs of Guerel Sahin will be a part of the KÖLNER LISTE 2017 program, from April 28 to 30, 2017.

All images courtesy of Guerel Sahin