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Meet Can Ahtam

Today we’d like to introduce you to Can Ahtam.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, I’ve started my photography journey with those first snapshots from a disposable camera my mother gifted me as a child. I was fortunate enough to travel a lot with my family to countries around Europe and Africa, and of course, the Americas. The travel component gave me a different understanding of the world we live in and unintentionally, you compare your culture to others and try to seek out the differences and different understandings. That drew me into documenting the differences I observed visually by photography.

Right around undergraduate life, I have decided to make photography a professional approach and add this skill to business and marketing as a means of visual communications. As I was taking my photography lectures along with my business degree, I got highly discouraged by my photography professor who had claimed that I lacked the talent and the eye for photography. I took my portfolio at the time to a renowned photographer, Mr. Ara Guler, who recently has passed away, and asked him for his opinion and at least not cut me off and give me constructive criticism. He owned this cafe in Taksim, Istanbul, and sat at his cafe every once in a while. I approached him, presented my work, and asked for his input after telling my story. He took a sip from his drink, and with a small smile on his face, he looked at me and said “Forget your professor. Do what you love.”

He continued our conversation by giving useful and memorable tips in photography and encouraged me to find my own way. So I did, starting my life in Boston as I pursued my MBA degree and continued photography stronger and more passionate than ever. The rest just continued.

Please tell us about your art.
I am a big fan of portraits, the close-up portraits (or as LA community likes to call it – headshots)

To me, anybody can take photos of a street or an architectural beauty because it is standing right in front of you, frozen in space. A person, however, is a being that experiences constant change with various stimuli presented which makes the portrait extra unique and special.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy shooting things like landscape, city, nature… etc. but I find greater value in connecting with people and documenting this through how I see others in photography. It inspires me to get to know others and exchange ideas, visions, as well as stories.

I want people to see the good and the beautiful value every person can bring and not discriminate and judge based on our differences. If everybody were the same, I think we would have a pretty boring life.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
I’ve seen so many people who would go ahead and buy the most expensive camera they can find at the time because of the wrong mindset of “Best camera shoots the best photos” – true to a certain degree.

“Best camera can shoot the best photos with the best photographer.”

If the owner of the camera does not know how to control the light and their surrounding, then they may not get the best outcome.

Most people have cell phones, to begin with, so I would strongly urge you to play around with some camera apps and find what you are comfortable with. Point and Shoot cameras are having a come back stronger than ever.

If an average reader is interested in shooting photos for the sake of sharing them on Instagram, you really don’t need a professional degree camera. Your cell phone is more than enough. A professional camera is most commonly used by those who would like to sell their work for large prints and digital uses (e.g., website, ads, commercial photos)

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I am an active Instagram user because the platform gives me larger access to a community of creative individuals and people who like to support it. You can find me @canahtam on Instagram.

I also do have a website at for those who are interested in seeing my portfolio, partnerships, and blog posts.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Male Portrait: @peace4werld
Female Portraits: @alin_ii, @alexisdavilaa, @msdevonbarnes

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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