Renowned Turkish Photojournalist Ara Guler Dies at 90

Renowned Armenian-Turkish Turkish photojournalist Ara Guler has died. As one of the few prominent internationally-recognized photographers from Turkey, Guler was known as “The Eye of Istanbul.”

Guler was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1928 into an Armenian family. He received his first camera, a Rolleicord II, when he was 22 years old in 1950. That same year, while studying economics at the University of Istanbul, Guler joined the photojournalism staff at the newspaper Yeni Istanbul.

When Time-Life established a presence in Turkey in 1958, the magazine selected Guler as its first Near East correspondent.

In 1961, after meeting Henri Cartier-Bresson and Marc Riboud, Guler was recruited by Riboud into the ranks of the prestigious Magnum Photos agency. At around the same time, Guler also became the first Turkish photographer to join the ASMP.

Over the course of his career, Guler traveled to countries around the world and photographed events (including wars), issues, and some of the world’s most famous individuals. Subjects included Winston Churchill, Bertrand Russell, Pablo Picasso, Ansel Adams, and Salvador Dalí.

Photos from Guler’s archive of over 800,000 shots are now preserved in several notable collections, including at the George Eastman Museum and the National Library of France. Magnum Photos has published a selection of photos Guler shot through the years.

“Photography is not an art. It is more important than art,” Guler once said. “We photographers are chroniclers who record the visual history of our age. Look at 19th century photographs. They give us the truest glimpse of that century.

“Historians are bound to incorporate a degree of emotion and imagination into their writing, but photographs show the truth. That is why they are greater than art. Photographs are living history. Art is not real, it is contrived, fictitious.”

Guler died on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018, after suffering a heart attack, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly called Guler’s family to offer his condolences. Guler was 90.

Image credits: Header illustration based on photo by Frank Payne