The storefront photo studio, once the natural destination to commemorate rites of passage like births, graduations and weddings, has long given way to the preservation of those moments on Facebook and Instagram. Lately, however, one-stop portrait shops and personal family snapshots have taken on new significance as collectors’ interest in “found,” “vernacular” or “outsider” photographs has increased. Decades ago, the Armenian photographer Maryam Sahinyan (1911-1996) joined her father at Foto Galatasaray, one such portrait shop in Istanbul, Turkey, churning out portraits after dropping out of school. Photography was an unusual occupation for a woman in Turkey, and Sahinyan’s distinct and interesting eye cast a window into the layered and complicated spectrum of cultures that lived in Istanbul — from the everyday to the taboo. Tayfun Serttas, an artist in Istanbul, went through thousands of Sahinyan’s negatives to assemble her first, posthumous exhibition in 2011 at SALT Galata. Highlights from the show — of subjects ranging from transgendered people and members of disenfranchised religious and ethnic groups to wealthy women, identical twins, babies and long-haired beauties — are in the above slideshow.
"An Outsider Photographer, and Surprise Aesthete"
by Esin Göknar / The NEW YORK TIMES