Melda Orcan is a film photographer from Istanbul who regularly captures stunning self portraits. She is also a recent Lomography convert, having picked up some rolls of Lomography Color Negative ISO 100 on a trip to the Aegean coast and falling in love with the vibrant colors of the film. Let's get to know her in this interview.
Hi Melda, please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started with analogue photography?
Hello Lomography, thank you for having me. My name is Melda and I am an Istanbul based film photographer specializing in self portraits. I am also interested in still life photography. I started analogue photography while I was studying in Beijing. I was doing modeling as a part time job and back then I had many photographer friends, with the suggestion of one of them I bought my first analogue camera, which was a super cute Minolta AF101-R. And since then film photography became an integral part of my life.
What draws you to taking self portraits?
I started taking self portraits when the pandemic had just started. I decided to take some portraits by myself with my one and only Pentax Spotmatic because there was no one around me who could properly use a fully manual film camera. I tried shooting myself with different backgrounds and outfits and even though during this process some rolls were wasted, I started to have really good results and that was making me so happy. I’ve been enjoying being my own model and photographer ever since then. I think it’s such a great journey because with every new self portrait you can see the changes in your appearance and appreciate them. Every self portrait of mine has its own memories and stories and it feels amazing to look back at them and reminisce about those moments of my life.
What do you find to be the most difficult part of taking self portraits?
At first it was hard to hold the camera and pose at the same time. It took some time for me to get used to arranging all the settings of the camera and posing for myself at the same time. But the more you shoot the more you feel comfortable with all these. Now it’s much easier for me to create a background, make a shooting plan and follow that. With every new camera it’s a whole different experience, but once you get used to it you will enjoy the process of taking your own portraits.
There’s a lot of debate in Turkey (as in many countries) about the appearance of women in public - how conservatively they should dress, head coverings etc. Do you think about these issues when you’re making photographs? And is it important for you to show yourself in a particular way?
I don’t really care about all these while taking photos or even in my private life. I respect all kinds of religious and cultural traditions, but it should be our own decision to wear what we want as women. No one has any right to make comments about it. If I feel beautiful and comfortable in that particular outfit, that’s all that matters. I don’t try to show myself in a particular way in my photos, I just shoot the things that attract me aesthetically and look pleasant. That’s all.
Which cameras and film do you like to use?
I mostly use Pentax Spotmatic for still life photos, but it’s a heavy one and not easy to carry around. But I take my Olympus AF-10 Super camera everywhere I go. It’s always with me and never disappoints with the results. For film, I mostly use Fuji films for my flower shoots because the green tones that it gives is amazing. I also use Kodak Portra, Gold and Ektar for more natural and warmer tones. I’ve also started trying B&W films and really enjoyed the results a couple of months ago. Every frame looks super cinematic.
You’ve recently taken some photos using Lomography Color negative ISO 100. What do you think about the results with the film?
I went for a small trip to the Aegean coast of Turkey for a couple of days and that’s where I had a chance to try Lomo100. I absolutely loved the results! I love the vibrant and bright colors. Sunny weather makes me so happy and this is definitely the right film if you love to go out shooting on a sunny day. I’m sure the results will make you happy as well as me.
Thank you to Melda for sharing her photography with us. To see more of her, follow her on Instagram.