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Through the lens - Elif Okay


A photographer has a great gift to share their perceptions of the world through the camera's lens, Elif Okay carries off the viewer with her powerful images. Being interested in the dynamics of humanity and nature, the work of the Berlin-based photographer not only blurs the lines between empowerment, vulnerability, and intimacy but also captures nature in its true and beautifully raw form. As Elif has already shown her work in multiple exhibitions and got published in major German fashion magazines like Kaltblut and Blonde, she's only just starting out and you should definitely keep her on your radar!


Photo: Elif Okay: The Wild Ones, © 2019, Elif Okay. Model: Marie Kluwe (no.kluwe)




Name:  Elif Okay

Age:  24

Profession: Photographer

Based: Berlin, Germany

Website: www.elifokay.com

Instagram: @elifokay



Who is Elif? 

I would describe myself as a very hands-on person, who is quite relaxed, loves to work hard, and create and enjoys being around easygoing people.


Describe your photography style with 3 words. 

Intimate, colorful, and playful.



Photo: Elif Okay: On Cloud Nine, © 2020, Elif Okay. Model: Nico Rückner (@nicophant)



How did your career start? Why did you start photography?

My career started when I moved to Berlin one semester before I graduated from university. I met with a couple of talented people and collaborated together on different projects. When I was around 14, I decided that I wanted to study photography. I just liked the idea that I can create images, travel around the world and meet new people.


What has been your favorite project so far?

I think my favourite project is “On Cloud Nine”. I have been photographing my partner for 3 years now and I continuously have been capturing our daily lives as well as creating intimate photos of him. It is great to see over the years how comfortable we got with each other. This is a lifelong project that I am very excited to continue.



Photo: Elif Okay: On Cloud Nine, © 2020, Elif Okay. Model: Nico Rückner (@nicophant)



What has been the most fun project? 

The most fun project was “The Wild Ones” with a good friend of mine, Marie.  Before the shooting we have made a list of what kind of clothes, props and locations we wanted to include and Marie brought the clothing pieces from her own wardrobe and modelled the project herself. We didn’t plan anything else, we just went to the places that we wanted to shoot with our props and the project developed itself. Marie and I have a great harmony together and we share the same vision on what we want to create. We shot the whole project in 2 days and we had so much fun!



Photo: Elif Okay: The Wild Ones, © 2019, Elif Okay. Model: Marie Kluwe (no.kluwe)



Would you rather...

     .....use a DLSR or an iPhone?

DSLR for sure. I like to be in control and I always have my camera with me when I have a photo shoot.


     .....take pictures in the city or in the studio?

Anywhere inside or outside of the city where I can access natural scenery. I love including nature in my photos.


Photo: Elif Okay: The Wild Ones, © 2019, Elif Okay. Model: Marie Kluwe (no.kluwe)



Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

It is not something or someone particularly. I can get inspired by a conversation that I have with someone close to me, from a book, from watching the sunrise. But I am quite motivated to create even though I don't feel inspired all the time.

What do you aim to achieve with your work?

I want people to feel good when they look at my work. My aim is creating aesthetically pleasing, empowering and impactful images that address social, political, environmental and personal events.



Photo: Elif Okay: The Wild Ones, © 2019, Elif Okay. Model: Marie Kluwe (no.kluwe)


Tell me a bit about how covid-19 has impacted you and your work?

It has been challenging both mentally and financially. In the beginning, I didn't feel like creating anything at all, I took a couple of months break from everything and it was very refreshing. Now I am very motivated to create and work but it is a very slow process as covid-19 cases are still increasing and our lives are not as “normal" as it used to be. So I am mostly working on personal projects.



Photo: Elif Okay: On Cloud Nine, © 2020, Elif Okay. Model: Nico Rückner (@nicophant)


Although it still feels like a very hard and enduring period of time, did sth good came out of it for you? 

Yes for sure. I improved my German a lot. I reflected on myself and my work, I still don’t have everything figured out but I have a little idea about what I want to do and where I want to go. I am more grateful for life and I appreciate small things more.


Also, I have met great people over Zoom meetings. I had a chance to spend the summer with my family (pretty much all the time at home) and I feel very lucky for that. So overall, it has been a learning experience for me.



Photo: Elif Okay: On Cloud Nine © 2020, Elif Okay.

What's next for you? 

I am very passionate about image-making and I will continue working as a photographer.

Besides that, I want to start giving photography education to younger people and support them as much as I can through their careers. Therefore I am planning to create a studio space "Elifant Studios". It is still so new and in the process of making. I am very excited about that and I have been working on the concept, workshops, and future events.



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