A Selection of Contemporary Photobooks from Turkey by Frederic Lezmi

Photobooks have become a very important and independent art form within photography in the last years. More and more Turkish photographers are expressing their visions and presenting their photography in book form.This has led to a small boom of beautifully crafted, meticulously designed and highly conceptual photobooks from Turkey in the recent years.

But lacking good distribution structures, bookstores and access to a large audience, these books have stayed little jewels you need to discover. They are beautifully crafted, meticulously designed and conceptional to the point. Nevertheless Turkish photobook makers have built their own network through little specialized bookshops like Torna (, self-publishing cooperatives like bandrolsuz ( and artists’ book institutions likes Banu Cennetoğlu’s BAS ( An active and interesting scene has evolved…

Frederic Lezmi is a photographer, book designer and teacher. He is co-founder of the BOOK LAB and curator at the Photobookmuseum in Cologne. He was based in Istanbul from 2012 until 2015.

Kaza ve Kader / Metropol Yeşili Istanbul‘u Resmetmek / Cahier No:2 Open House by Ali Taptik (with Okay Karadayılar) 

To choose between Ali‘s books is not easy. He might be the most prolific contemporary turkish photobook artist I know. Having discovered Ali‘s books long before I moved to Istanbul, they somehow shaped my view on the city. I have always seen Ali‘s books as an ode to this very special place. Designed by Bülent Erkmen, or by his friend and publishing partner Okay Karadayılar each of his books is different, often housing the same photographs, and special. I like them all…

Halil, A Cloud of Black Smoke: Photographs From Turkey 1968-72, 2007

When I first saw this book it completely blew me away. Its stark, shocking and touching images document the violence that occu-
red during Turkey‘s era of unrest between 1968-71. An amazingly well edited selection of found pho-tographs from the period, and a frightening record of turbulent times. Edited and published in Sweden by grandmaster Halil.

Selim Süme, 289KD, 2011

This little book is an account of the hard times most of my photographer friends had during their mandatory military service in the Turkish army. Selim made a book out of it. A diary- like, very intimate portrait and account of his time in the army. A small, but very strong and touching, book.

Sevim Sancaktar, Transformer, 2010

A beautifully crafted accordion-fold book holding Sevim’s poetical collection of the very typical trompe l’oeil drawings on electrical transformers throughout Istanbul. It‘s an amazing little book on vernacular architecture, urban history and collective illusions that documents these imagi-ned landscapes within the city fabric.

Banu Cennetoğlu, Katalog 2009 / 15 Scary Asian Men (2005)

Two wonderful books by Istanbul‘s grande dame of artist books. Catalogue 2009 was created for the Venice Biennial and conceived as a mail-order catalogue with 451 of Banu’s images classified in 15 categories. 15 Scary Asian Men is a weird collection of pictures depicting lonely male figures in the green zones along Istanbul‘s endless highways.