During my travels around the film festival circuit, I met old friends – some of whom I hadn’t seen in years. Many were rooted in a 9-5 existence, living highly structured, stressful lives. They rarely, if ever, lived in the moment and engaged in creative or artistic endeavors. Instead of going to a coffee shop to catch up, I proposed that they take a day off, pick a place that has meaning to them, and choose clothes in which they feel like themselves. That was the starting point. From there the idea was to improvise; spontaneity was to be at the heart of the process.
Initially, my friends asked me to give them instructions and sometimes wondered what they were doing there, feeling bored or frustrated. Slowly, their minds began to let go, and they started doing what they felt like: jumping, climbing, wielding props, and taking risks. It felt almost like a return to childhood, physicality took over, and the camera was there to capture the energy of the moment, telling a story.
These “séances” sometimes went on for 10-15 hours. They included long hikes through mountains, head-on collisions with hail and snow, walks through swamps and lakes, and quite a few mosquito bites and bruises.
The experience of the day was most important, not the resulting images. You could never predict what would come of it, and the idea was to let go and let things come together by circumstance. This is very opposite of the notions of safety and caution that we are bombarded with by the current society. Although being in front of the camera while letting go may seem uncomfortable, after these “séances,” just about every person wanted to keep going or do it again. Each shoot was its own unique adventure. This experience of living in the moment, in the present, the rush of adrenaline and the feeling of being a child again, uninhibited no matter how silly or dangerous, proved to be liberating.
I called the project “Bloodhoney” in reference to the Balkans, the region I am originally from. It is a combination of two Turkish words: Bal, meaning “honey” and Kan, meaning “blood.” The name refers to the bittersweet nature of life, the moments of beauty and the sublime spontaneously captured in the photographs.