Ara Kafe offers delicious food, and it's filled with oversized prints by the master, plus a case full of his books. One of the inexplicable joys and surprises of a recent trip to Istanbul was the privilege of touring Ara Güler's private gallery. I stopped into Kafe Ara to thank a manager, and there I met the famed photographer himself. He made jokes, posed for this "candid" shot, and signed my book Cover Girl.
Months later I returned with a gift. I am grateful for the introduction to his work—truly magnificent storytelling through pictures. When I asked pointed questions about his photojournalism, he said that a photo is "a spirit. You only need to imagine it."
I'm still pondering: Was he sharing a secret to getting to know a subject, allowing it to speak? Was he making a sarcastic criticism of contemporary digital editing? Then again, maybe Güler was pulling my leg again, with a little truth, a little humor. Regardless, his words inspire me to see photography—and life—differently. Perhaps life is far more intangible and ephemeral than we like to think, and the best way to “see” is by closing our eyes. The walls of the Kafe Ara are certainly filled with “spirit.”