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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Beste Zeybel

OCTOBER 16, 2019 | WORDS BY BESTE ZEYBEL | @BESTEZEYBEL


It comes as little surprise to those familiar with the works of fashion photographer Beste Zeybel that she began honing her craft in the world of fine art & design. After developing an obsession with storytelling through pictures from a young age, Zeybel’s aesthetic has evolved over the years to merge minimalism with stark graphics.

Zeybel spent 7 years in the world of advertising as an Art Director and credits this chapter with allowing her to draw parallels between the world of still photography, and bringing narratives to life.

Today, her portfolio tells a tale of dramatic backdrops, sharp lines and strong characters, a combination that made her the ideal fit for Skye & Staghorn’s upcoming campaign, Femme Élan, set in Turkey. We sat down recently with the budding photographer to learn a little bit more about what makes her tick.

How did you end up pursuing a career in photography?

I’ve been painting since I was really young and actually loved photographing the pictures that I would create. At the time I was shooting with my mother’s Kodak. It wasn’t until I was 15 that my Grandfather gave me an old Zenit, from there it felt as though I was forever creating stories through photographs. I was working for an advertising agency as an Art Director when I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a photographer. In a day I had quit my job and changed the entire direction of my life, I was 27 at the time. There are a lot of creative people I speak to who say that this age was equally strange and important for them too.

Where are you originally from, and where do you call home these days?

I was born in a little town, in the west of Turkey, but I’ve been living in Istanbul for the last 15 years. Travelling so much can sometimes give you a sense of feeling both lost, and that anywhere can be home.

Travel is such a regular part of a photographer’s job in today’s world, where has been your favourite shoot location so far?

My campaign shoot for fashion label Kevser Sarioglu in Cape Town was unbelievable. The way the imagery was shared by thousands across so many mediums around the world said so much about how a location can resonate with people. It’s been career defining for me and a talking point I’m so proud to be able to share it with people throughout in the industry.

What has been the stand out moment throughout your career?

Being amongst the magic of the Namibian desert on a recent magazine shoot was both incredible and slightly surreal. I felt so small in the vast void of where we were that it pushed me to make bigger, bolder decisions, and to brave creativity & push the boundaries even more. It was an experience that completely changed my world view, both visually and in terms of my career – it opened up my mind to a new way of looking that things.

You have such a distinct style of photography; how would you describe your approach?

My high school and university education were rooted in fine art, so a lot of what I read and worked for was focused on the specifics of painting and graphic design. When I was an art director at an advertising agency, I was using my own images across the graphic design elements; album covers, music posters, various layouts for any type of advertisement. That’s why my style of photography is a contrast of minimalism and graphic imagery. I’m constantly playing with spaces, colours and graphic visuals which help me to create the style I do.

How do you spend your time when you aren’t online?

I love making ceramics & reading underground magazines during my downtime, and I’ve recently taken up playing tennis to get rid of stress.

"I’m constantly playing with spaces, colours and graphic visuals which help me to create the style I do."

Where is next on your bucket list to visit?

I’m travelling to Paris this week for work, but next on my wish list is Morocco.

What was the first camera you purchased?

Canon 300D (year 2003)

What are the 3 things you never travel without?

My camera, Stanley coffee thermos, and my sunglasses.

Your recent campaign for Skye & Staghorn was something so special for us, can you talk us through the story behind your favourite image?

It was so lovely to create something very different with your team. The below image stood out to me; it’s the perfect example of minimalism meets abstract art.