Photographer Irem Harnak is an appropriate artistic ambassador of her homeland, Istanbul. A mysterious and magical place with more than 8,000 years of history, where the East meet the West, Istanbul has constantly been a picturesque location which also produces a wealth of art and culture. The different peoples and cultures that mixed in this place were destined to create generations of those with discerning eyes and interpretations of the aesthetics of their surroundings. Though resistant early on, Irem ended her denial of pursuing a life as a photographer/artist and it has taken her to many parts of the world. Just as the Bosphorus marks the difference and connects two parts and cultures of the world, Harnak brings an “eye” from her land of origin to the opportunities and content of much more western surroundings. Irem’s proficiency in five languages (Turkish, English, French, Italian, and Spanish) are proof that she has always embraced and sought out influences from different parts of the world and assimilated them into her own unique vision and voice. Irem explains her passion and interest in photography stating, “I have a distinct eye and am genuinely curious about the people I am photographing. It’s important to find a deeper meaning and create a narrative in the photography that I do. I want them to be three dimensional. It’s not just about a pretty face in a beautiful set up. I come up with references to things that I lived, read, or learned growing up there. I feel like I have lived a few lives already and have been collecting these life experiences along the way. Whenever I get an idea or a collaborator approaches me for a project, I can dip into these past experiences and stories and find a unique angle which nobody who grew up here could come up with. My vision, the way I photograph…is very distinct.” It’s because of this ability to bring depth and a story to her photos that Harnak has been utilized by an eclectic array of magazines, advertisers, and model agencies make her their first call and choice. Respected names like: Elite Models, Sutherland Models, Superior Magazine, Ouch! Magazine, Birdy & Grace, PRESS The Fashion Magazine (and many more), are among those who have benefited from the signature style and talent of this young photographer. In particular, the latter two of this list have allowed Irem to bring an impressive depth to their presentations. High art/fashion concept or clothing line campaign, each is an equal opportunity for this photographer to convey history and meaning in the elements provided, the sign of any true professional and artist.
While the majority of photographers may not have the household name recognition of an actual rock star, they are well known by those who produce in the industry. Accomplished fashion editor Christopher Massardo (well known for his work which has appeared in major publications such as Dolce Vita, Culture, Vogue Italia, IDOL, Papercut, Capital Style, Supplementaire and Z!NK) Editor-in-Chief and Art Director of PRESS The Fashion Magazine declares, “Irem is the definition of a well versed photographer. Her work ranges from the slickest of editorials to very noteworthy campaigns and more. Her impeccable lighting brings out the best in models both in studio and on location. She has a great eye for casting the best up-and-coming models. Irem is definitely a photographer at the top of her field. She has proven with her extensive body of work that she is a photographer of immense talent and high stature. Her work is truly artful and unique, profoundly enhancing the appeal and commercial success in readership. Her images were always pleasing to our clientele and assisted in gaining more due to our consistency and reputation. I always knew that I would get the best quality and the most interesting approach every time we collaborated.” Irem’s work with PRESS The Fashion Magazine allowed her to exercise the creativity contained in fashion photography. One editorial displayed powerful female models with suits and denim, creating androgynous yet sexy looks. Harnak also worked with some of the most sought after talents of the international editorial market and catwalk market, such as Elite Model’s Carly Moore during her photo shoots with PRESS the Fashion Magazine. Irem recalls, “I was ecstatic to shoot Carly for PRESS The Fashion Magazine. She was really confident, comfortable in front of the camera. It was great to be able to shoot with her. I really liked her, she has a unique look.” Harnak is quick to attribute her ability to experiment so often with this publication to Massardo. She notes that having someone like him who trusted her vision was highly beneficial, giving her the freedom to experiment and the opportunity to get recognized for this work.
The approach for PRESS The Fashion Magazine might seem juxtaposed to Birdy & Grace (popular women’s golfing apparel) but not in the mind or Harnak. While the clothing women wear on the golf course may not seem to be high concept to the fashion industry, it appeals to women who are interested in expressing themselves and having a vision of themselves, just as those on the catwalk and at glamorous events. Someone with the ability to convey the story of these women (and the clothing line) with the same creativity and intent was a necessity, someone like Irem. It’s important to understand how the images are being presented as well as received. Noting the similarities and differences Harnak notes, “Whatever the situation, you want those viewing the image to make a connection with it. They want to see themselves as the person in the photograph. For lifestyle, you have to keep it light, fun, approachable. Sport is almost like portraiture; it’s about the person you are shooting yet you have to create the feeling of ‘envy’ for the sitter. Fashion is usually about the utmost perfection but with current trends of being ‘normal’, ‘diverse’, ‘anyone’. The feeling and the looks have become more achievable, yet the most important thing in fashion is to create a “unique and cool feel”. I always have these goals in my mind when I am shooting.” Irem shot Golf Channel’s spokesperson Win McMurry for the Birdy & Grace’s Spring 2014 campaign. Sharon Sunoo (Founder & CEO of Birdy & Grace) sought out Harnak based on her work and glowing recommendations concerning her work ethic and ability to bring life and excitement to her images. Sunoo confirms, “I was looking for a great photographer to shoot my campaign in Canada, lucky for me, I was able to get Irem! She has a great style and I love her lighting. My model and muse is Golf Channel’s celebrated sportscaster and spokesperson Win McMurry; from the moment they met, Irem created a great atmosphere for Win to be most comfortable. Irem is so much fun to be around on set, always full of energy and ready to change things up. Her top quality photography brought out the best in my collection.”
Irem Harnak is like that one item of clothing that is appropriate at a casual or formal event. Always receiving attention and praise for the way that it complements the rest of an ensemble. Exotic and eclectic but never so over the top that your attention is solely focused on it. The many influences of her homeland are intrinsic in her work. She describes herself as a photographer with a passion for various forms of artistic expressions and cultures whom also specializes in photographing charismatic and stylish people dressed up in the finest brands. Just as appropriate is the description of her work as a place where many different influences meet to create something very unique, exciting, and captivating.