Ulas & Merve

Winning bodies of work

Merve Türkan and Ulaş Kesebir are a London-based self-taught photography duo. After meeting in Istanbul in 2010 they moved to Izmir, Turkey, where their interest in photography started to grow and they began frequently photographing each other just for fun. At the end of 2014, they opened a photography studio in Izmir where they produced primarily personal works and developed a style characterised by a refined color palette and subtle humour. Five years later, they returned to Istanbul and spent just over a year there before relocating to London, and then finally, at the beginning of 2021, they moved once more back to Turkey. 

These images are a mix of personal and commissioned photographs, but in each of them the approach is the same. Türkan and Kesebir’s home is used as a studio and the modelling is done by one of them whilst the other is behind the camera. Together, they decide on the styling, art direction, lighting, set design, and props, and the physical work – like painting the walls and building the set – is done in collaboration. Their DIY approach carries through to the post-shoot stages, as they develop and print all of the photographs in their own darkroom. In their work, they are interested in themes such as humour and surrealism and they have a strong interest in colour. Certain objects are recurring motifs in their work, like black and red high heels and pink pleated skirts.