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Meet Elif Koyutürk

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elif Koyutürk.

Elif, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I hear the stories when they whisper and I follow them. These stories led me to Anatolia, Brazil, The Pacific Ocean, Sicily, United States, Madrid, Switzerland, Austria… The characters I have worked with throughout the years have molded me and gave a mind sees the wildflowers within.

My life, my motivation is to tell stories so that the wildflowers stay wild, rivers roam free, and one’s heart may then feel what it felt like to be part of nature.

I am a filmmaker photographer. My work ranges from the Nomadic Tribes of Anatolia to Extreme sports in the Alps or refugees in Eastern Europe. I was born in Istanbul to a journalist family on a farm with 11 dogs. I’ve worked with international brands such as Red Bull, KTM, Sony amongst others as a cinematographer, director, and camerawoman. My biggest accomplishment is not the brands that I have worked with, but the stories that opened an eye and made me the bridge to communicate all that is “hidden” through my lens.

Since the age of 17, I have chosen to live as a nomad to understand the voices that abound all around us but need a means to communicate. During the last three years, I’ve become the ears and eyes of the Sarikecili Nomadic Tribe in Turkey, the last tribe in Anatolia. Creating portraits and making a movie of my Nomad family while taking note of history for future generations. This disappearing culture is based on pastoralism which combats desertification and wildfires, shedding light on pastoralism through art has already impacted the Nomadic families in their daily life. By teaching people how pastoralism works and why Nomads should be protected through art is one of my goals in life. I believe our greatest wild story is inside us and my gift is to help reveal it.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
To be honest with you, It´s not a smooth road. I’ve always been an insider and an outsider with a suitcase full of imagination. Always on the move, always in adaptation to a different culture, people, language for a purpose.

“Struggles”, “Edges” make us who we are. If you are on a road that serves your wild heart or the stories of the wild… you will find yourself at many bottoms and tops.

But! Good news! I don´t like smooth things anyway. It needs to have edges, needs to have textures of being lived once, it needs to have the scars that made them who they are. Otherwise, it´s just another road…another story… just something “another” that we already have seen.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a storyteller, using different mediums. I specialize in portrait photography, contemporary art films, and documentary films focusing on the environment and culture. My beliefs flourish from knowing that at the core of art there´s humanism. Knowing and believing in that doesn’t set me apart but connects me with everyone.

I am known for my photography and short documentaries that circles between people and nature. I’ve had three solo exhibitions including a year-long exhibition at the Istanbul Museum of Photography.

I feel proud of my works when they are able to set the rivers free and help people to break the chains. Because of that, my studies – creations in the Middle East have a very special place. The Sarikecli Nomadic tribe is the last nomadic tribe in Anatolia that is facing disappearance because of the water problems due to the un-organized construction of hydroelectric power plants. Telling the story of my original Nomadic roots is something that I am proud of.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently. What has happened along the way made me who I am now. I wouldn’t be Elif if I changed the pieces of the puzzle. Some things are meant to be as they are. Like nature. I am sure a flower or a tree wouldn’t want to change anything in their past. They will bloom anyway in millions of colors, no matter how hard the winters are.


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Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Elif Koyutürk
Covid-19 Journal, “Open and Kind: We are strong. We are nature.”
When doodles come alive.
Gates from my dreams
Sarikecili Nomadic Tribe, Morning with my sister Seyhan, Taurus Mountains – Turkey

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