Extract from 'I am your Mirror' photography book ...
Yasemin & Umit were the fifth strangers that I met, I call them ”The Family”. One evening I found Yasemin's email on my personal account, I opened it.
My first idea was to photograph myself and twelve strangers that I would find through the Internet. These strangers, unpaid, would be free to choose a time and place to be photographed.
They could express themselves as they wished, and could be anonymous, or not. I asked the strangers to look at the camera as if a mirror.
Then, I asked to write down a few words, something that could represent them.
She replayed to my advert on Internet, saying that she was happy to take part to the project after talking with her husband, Umit.
I was surprised how much she was opened with a stranger, like me.
She talked about her husband's depression, how that depression brought darkness in her marriage, and how great was the light that the birth of their child brought in her relationship.
Maybe she needed to vomit her pain out with someone, I do sometimes as well, and probably because I was a stranger, I was the right person for her, at that moment.
It was odd that a mother, with a child, wanted to take part in my ‘I am your mirror’ photography project.
The advert she found on internet, was clearly stating that I was looking for people with obsessions, sicknesses, fears and I was curious to know why she wanted to take part.
The ‘child brought light in the darkness', she said.
She wanted me to represent this side of her life.
I agreed, but honestly I couldn't imagine the final result, as I didn’t know where they were living and what approach they had towards my overall project, if they were picky or open minded.
We talked a lot through emails, about how to re-present this light photographically. She came out with some ideas but I wasn’t sure if I could actually give her what she wanted.
I think she thought that I had a studio.
I specified that for my documentary project, I was using natural light, and photograph situations that happen in the present moment, that I didn’t have a studio, and that I would have used their flat instead.
She said that she was living in a small flat and they were in the process to move in a new one, in a couple of weeks.
I proposed some pictures outside the flat, in the sun and try some over exposure. But she didn’t like the idea. She wasn't liking the neighbourhood. They had some sort of 'racist attitude' towards them.
She seems to have clear ideas on how she wanted to be re-presented.
When I began this project I decided to accept anyone who wanted to take part as it is. I didn’t do any selection of people. I met them as they were.
Some of them agreed, others refused, others disappeared.
I was more interested in looking for their co-operation and I wanted a true commitment.
I didn’t want to convince anybody.
Everyone has a choice and they were free to do whatever they wanted, and free to show or not their faces.
I thought it could be beneficial for some of them expressing themselves without any fear and judgment in front of my camera.
There is a sort of magic that happens when you open up your heart.
Heart to heart communication is one of the most powerful conversation.
I wanted to leave them free, that is why some of them got naked or show some erection at some point. But this is not the case of Yasemin & Umit, the family.
After a couple of days I received an email from her husband, Umit.
I got your email from Yasemin, my wife, I had a few ideas which I thought might be interesting. One idea I had for a picture documentary was perhaps the displacement.
We are born and bred British people, I am brown and Muslim too so in UK I never felt like I belong and had many racism.
The country I originate from is Cyprus, its split into two a Greek and the other Turkish.
When we go to Cyprus, they don’t like or want us back due to being British and religious now, and so we are left with no identity or place, this inspired one of my poems which I thought might go well with pictures to tell the story.
In addition to this, I thought that a set of pictures to show the darkness and hopelessness that is depression which I suffer from and how it affects us in everyday, especially as mental illness is something being cut by current government.
Again I have poems for this too if that would work. And my wife had an idea from darkness to light she already discussed with you, I believe. Just thought I would throw some ideas out’.
Yasemin and Umit are Muslim, born in London. Yasemin is a pretty woman, very maternal, she is sweet and she has a very kind voice on the phone.
We talked again through emails.
Then, I asked them if I could go and visit them, where they live, to know each other and see what energy was between us, if there was trust.
We exchanged our phone numbers.
After two weeks Yasemin texted me, Umit was at home the day after, off from work, so I could go and visit them. They live in London, zone 6.
We arranged to meet at 2pm.
They wanted to know me.
I sensed a bit of closeness, they were not really convinced.
I went to meet them.
It was a bit difficult find out where they live.The flat was hard to reach.
I had to walk through a path in a park, and the streets were not clear.
So, I arrived late.
When I arrived, I waited few minutes outside. There was a garden outside.
I rang the bell.
Yasemin opened the door, giving me a smile.