“My photographs were appreciated so much more in the digital environment” — in conversation with Deniz Kalayci

Georgie Miller
June 20, 2022
Hijyen, meaning 'hygiene', shot by Deniz Kalayci, part of the photographer's 'Covid_19 in the World' collection.

“It’s fun to look at the world from a different perspective, from new angles.” Deniz Kalayci expresses herself through photography. Georgie Miller caught up with her to hear about the stories, her globe-trotting collections, and why she loves the streets.

For Deniz Kalayci, photography is “the biggest tool that connects me to life.” Her striking images capture human moments and portray emotions which transcend even the moment itself. Even photos of people simply living everyday life in its simplest definition: walking the streets, chatting with loved ones, observing the scenery. But what Deniz really captures in a split second of a camera’s shutter is the human connection that lies within each moment. The life within these moments: the human struggles, palpable joy and love, and everything in between; that is what life is.

“In photography, technique is important, but what is more important to me is that it has a real feeling,” says Deniz, talking of her sincere focus to transfer emotion in her work. Through her photographic endeavors, Deniz travels the globe, exploring different cultures and communities, allowing her to reveal the similarities of the human connection. By bringing her work to web3, she has given photographs an even louder voice to unify people around the world.

pandemic window, Covid_19 in the Word, by Deniz Kalayci.

Despite the enormous variety in Deniz’s collections, all minted over the past 12 months, they share key themes as a unique and profound study of the world, honing in on the wonders of colour, life, love, and all in between. Whether in black and white or vibrant colour, her images turn mundane instances into an unexpected, personal, and at times vulnerable glimpse into the life of her subject – and the life of the viewer.

Covid_19 in the World, Deniz’s first foray into the NFT space, reflects the stress, separation, and fear that humanity collectively experienced during the pandemic. Several of her images evoke the loneliness and uncertainty that touched every continent: healthcare workers in protective gear, masked family members with looks of worry, people navigating the perils of the virus; the unprecedented moments of that distant and unfamiliar time.

“After a short period of bewilderment, I gathered myself and thought that this pandemic, which surrounded the whole world, should be recorded,” she shares. And thus was born Deniz’s visceral account of the trying period - and the silver linings (or merely solace) too, with family embraces across plastic barriers and the neighbourly support found from street to street.

In many ways, Deniz’s work as a photographer aligns with the foundational themes of the web3 space too. Like her work, web3 is simultaneously illuminating and unifying. “It's fun to look at the world from a different perspective, from new angles.” Driven by the heightened engagement that NFTs have brought to Deniz’s artwork, her relatable stories have reached a new and far broader audience.

Deniz only chose to mint her photographs into a focused series upon the recommendation of a friend, but her first collection sold out rapidly. “My photographs, which record history, were appreciated so much more in the digital environment.” As with her first, Deniz’s later collections are also designed to help us connect with the world. For Color is Life, Deniz travelled to nine different countries, shooting photographs thematically united by the bright, saturated, and vibrant colours of the rainbow. Deniz’s unique perspective on hue and depth brings an unexpected showcase of the colours that often pass us by without attracting a second glance.

Green, from Color is Life, by Deniz Kalayci.

“If you pay attention, all the colours in this collection are in harmony with the photographs and depict the lives within them.” Her image Green reflects the meaning of the colour. Often noted as a colour of calm, confidence, and peace, green is a colour of life and rejuvenation. Like the colour, the image captures a person in the natural green spring waters of İnegöl, immersed in the process of detoxification. To the viewer, the colour and the image’s subjects reflect the powers of colour in our everyday lives.

Similarly, her collection There is Life on the Streets highlights often under-the-radar human moments. The collection in itself reminds us that we frequently miss so many small instances of life happening around us. Equally harrowing and uplifting shots of a variety of scenes, which include a woman grieving in a graveyard, a homeless man sitting streetside in an armchair, and an innocent child playing football, solidify the beautiful, singular moments and encourage us to offer the thoughtful consideration they implore. Deniz loves the streets. “You can come across all kinds of people and different lives — that's why I love the streets. It gives me real life!”

“After a short period of bewilderment, I gathered myself and thought that this pandemic should be recorded.”

— Deniz Kalayci

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Georgie Miller
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Georgie Miller is a writer and digital artist. She is enthralled by traditional and digital media artists and is excited to explore the intersection of creativity in the web3 space. Beyond Culture3, Georgie works in digital editorial strategy for luxury lifestyle media brands focusing on travel, design, and fashion. She splits her time between Texas and Chicago.

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