Murat Süyür: can Ad become Art? – #TheNewOnes

Probably the photos we see most in our daily lives are advertising pictures. We are inundated with them: on TV, on social media, in newspapers, even on the street. But have you ever wondered who is behind these photos? Murat Suyur is one of them. His name may not mean much to some, but I can assure you that you have seen at least one of his works in one way or another.

Murat is not only an excellent advertising photographer, winner of the Best advertising photography of the year award in 2014 at the Crystal Apple awards Turkey but an author in his own right. 

As well as working for numerous major companies, Murat’s creativity also comes to life in his projects. A minimalist, but no less visually powerful, combination of urbanism and surrealism.

You might be wondering how it is possible to combine these two seemingly very different aspects. How is it possible that a genre such as advertising photography, which must be subject to market dynamics and the customer’s requests, can be authorial at the same time? We talked about this and more with Murat Suyur in the interview below.  Before you read on, I invite you to visit his Instagram profile and website.

Hi Murat, thank you for your availability. Let’s start with the first question: could you tell us something about your life, how you got into photography and the moment you realised it would be part of your future?

Hi, I’ve been into advertising photography for more than 12 years now, based in London but working between London and Istanbul. I got into photography while I was studying engineering in Turkey. For the first couple of years, it was kind of a hobby, I was using it to visualize my concepts, and it was like a game to play with images in photoshop afterwards. Then I started to spend a lot of time on it, till it became my style and then a shift to a professional career.

Order (it’s even the title of one of your projects) and the repetition of one or more elements are aspects that often appear in the images you create. Where do these two aspects of your aesthetic come from? Do you think they have become almost a foundation for your pictures, or did they merely respond to artistic needs for those particular projects?

I built the concept of Order when I was shooting something different and surprisingly saw the ‘line of people’ on one of the images I took. So it was a bit of a coincidence at first, but I built the whole idea on that accidental photo. But as a photographer, I like that minimalistic look. Sometimes repetition of something gives that graphic element, and that helps too. So I think it’s just something I use when I think it adds a bit of surrealism.

©Murat Süyür – All Rights Reserved

I’ve noticed that the urban element and the big city environment is also often present in your works. I imagine that living in London influences the choice of exploiting certain places, but what in particular fascinates you about these kinds of environments?

That’s right. I think after living most of my life in Istanbul as a conceptual photographer, the lack of neat and minimalistic urban scenery pushed me into this style. London has a lot to offer when it comes to minimal architecture and great urban scenery. After moving to London, I started to build my concepts within this urban look. I quite like places that look almost like a studio but have those elements from city and street life.

Why do you often try to combine the metropolis, the modern buildings or objects with fantastic and surreal elements, as you did, for example, in Anonymous, Relativity, A cloudy day or your ‘visual metaphors’ (e.g. White Chocolate)? 

I think the idea behind those is to build concepts that, in a way, look like scenes from everyday life, which gives this natural look, but also, at the same time, they look a bit different than how it is. It’s like surrealism but in the most realistic way possible. It gives that surprise effect. That is what I like in those works.

©Murat Süyür – All Rights Reserved

In addition to working on your projects, you are also an award-winning advertising photographer with a ten-year career. How do you manage to reconcile your more authorial dimension with your work as an advertiser? Do you try to make the two things coexist, or do you prefer to keep them separate?

When I started to take pictures, the advertising was very different from today. It was more conceptual and playful, contra nowadays it’s more natural and realistic, especially in Europe. I still like my conceptual world but, at the same time, to be able to get advertising campaigns, I have to show a bit of variety in my portfolio. I always tried to two sides coexist as I think they all have a part of me. Sometimes it’s light and colour, other it’s the environment and approach.

How did you get into advertising photography? Have you always wanted to do this kind of shooting, or have you experimented with different genres in the past? Is there any other genre you would like to try?

I was shooting mainly still life when I first got into photography, and at those times, Photoshop was something. Everyone was using it heavily to build new worlds and styles. I guess that’s how I got the attention of art directors and creatives from agencies. An agent just sent me an email and said: “Look, we can represent you if you are interested in shooting images for brands and clients”. At the time, I didn’t know people could make a living out of advertising photos. So I accepted the offer from the agent and started getting jobs from agencies.

©Murat Süyür – All Rights Reserved

How do you come up with ideas for your photos, especially the more ‘surreal’ ones?

I have this urge to play with reality and make things appear different than usual. So I usually use my archive of random images from every style to play around them and build something interesting out of those. There was too much photoshop work involved back then, but now it’s more fun to do it without too much editing. So my way of thinking has changed slightly over the years. I still want to be surprising but in a more natural way where possible.

Is there any message you want to convey with your photos? Some are very topical and I would say almost politicised, like the Post-Truth series, some photos of ‘Order’ like the one with the BLM protesters, Distant Socializing, etc.

Usually, there is. I typically have a lot to say, but I try to limit it so that the ideas themselves don’t get in front of the pictures too much.  I’m so interested in social topics, politics, and environmental changes we are facing as a world, and I spent my life in a country where the situation and atmosphere don’t let you stay out of politics. There is always something to talk about to raise your voice.

©Murat Süyür – All Rights Reserved

Is there any business or type of product/service for which you would like to do publicity shots?

I’m vegan, so I would like to be involved in projects or campaigns for vegan products or charities about animal rights & the environment.

We’re almost done. Are you working on any projects at the moment?

I have a folder with lots of ideas and inspirations. I’m constantly working on them, but some come to life and others, unfortunately, stay as a draft in the end.

Many thanks again to Murat Suyur for this interview! It was a pleasure to talk to him about his work and we wish him all the best.