Umit Savaci’s portfolio is infused with softness, texture and a childhood spent in rural Turkey
Before moving to London, the photographer spent his time between the rural lands of Izmir and Istanbul – a past that he looks back on fondly.
- Ayla Angelos
- 26 November 2020
Umit Savaci’s upbringing was far from average. Not only did his childhood involve roaming the rural lands of Izmir, located on the Aegean and Mediterranean coast of Turkey, but he was also surrounded by his family of beekeepers and farmers. It’s an idyllic upbringing that was no doubt going to have an undeniable influence on his future years.
Then, as most children do, Umit felt a sense of entrapment and wanted to flee from his family’s professions and rituals. “Therefore my life started to evolve into a different environment,” he tells It’s Nice that. He recalls a time in the mid-‘90s when his uncle – who’d also steered away from this way of life – inspired him to pick up a camera, and they'd make work together in a local photography studio. But instead of taking pictures of tourists in his local town during the summer, Umit decided to spend it beekeeping with his grandpa. “After high school, I remember feeling a great division dominating my life,” he says, “and I wasn’t sure about what to do in the future.”
Despite this uncertainty, Umit knew that his childhood in nature had given him the space needed to make important decisions about where to go next. “I had the opportunity to think about the things I have always desired,” he says. This saw Umit move back to Izmir to start working as a photography assistant, before eventually moving to Istanbul to continue in the field. After four years’ experience in the industry, and a shoot for the first issue of Vogue Turkey, Umit moved to London in 2016. “It took nearly two years to do my first editorial shoot,” he says. “It was really tough but also an important moment in my life. My entire portfolio needed to change.”
Umit has now spent the last few years placing a firm foot in the industry. His works have been featured in numerous magazines including Vogue, Sunday Times Style and Port Magazine, and he boasts an enviable client list full of work for fashion brands such as Liberty and Toast. Ultimately, he puts his success down to this ability to adapt once he moved to London – turning his process inwards and looking at the forms, characters and rituals of his life. This is a process that informs much of the work that he makes today. “My work is based on stories and unique compositions formed from my past,” he says. “They are trying to find their meaning today – it’s a bit hard to describe.”
Soft, textured and filled with personal narrative, Umit’s work is like a deep and replenishing breath that you take at the end of a long day. Alongside these expressive, poised shots of models wearing delectable clothing, Umit also works on a range of personal projects. Take his recent series as an example; the photographer travelled to Indonesia earlier this year and documented a 4,500km-long road trip. “It was the only and first time that I was totally alone after a long period of moving to London,” he says. Shot over the course of a month, the series comprises close-up portraiture, a candid, sepia-toned shot of a nude man on a beach, and a whole host of artfully composed landscapes.
In the near future, Umit will continue to work on this fine-tuned mix of personal and commercial work. Most excitingly though, he plans to travel to another country in the East, but when – of course – is still very much in the air due to Covid-19. “The colours, forms, textures and the nature in Indonesia were so distinctive for me,” he says, proving just how much he enjoys spending time among the natural world. “I think it’s deeply affected me; it was like looking through an amazing view from a different perspective.”
Umit Savaci (Copyright © Umit Savaci, 2020)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.