The subjects of Akif Hakan’s photographs are more than just sultry females. They are carefully crafted characters, born from the strange world of the artist’s imagination. Drawing from a wide range of influences, including fashion, Asian cinema, and the history of photography—experimental portraits by Man Ray, for instance—Hakan’s images present a modern take on fanciful femininity.
Hakan, who hails from Istanbul but now lives and works in Miami, treads the line between fashion photography and fine art, and has earned recognition as “one of the best new generation photographers of the future” from Italy’s Max Magazine and a spot as a finalist in the International Color Awards. His works are defined by an affinity for vibrant palettes and a palpable aura of feminine mystique, whether conveyed through bright backdrops against which heavily costumed women confront the viewer, or more voyeuristic works set in domestic spaces.
In his recent body of work, Hakan explores a fascination with Asian cinema and culture. Works like those in the series “Love Triangles & Its Confusing Complications” (2013) bring the noir-inspired lighting and jewel-toned palette of Hong-Kong films like Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love into the space of photography. Other images offer a glimpse into the flamboyant world of Japanese fashion. In Fashion Is Image and The Minds of the Mads VII (both 2009), Hakan appropriates Tokyo’s famed fairy tale and anime-inspired Harajuku style, presenting heavily made-up models adorned with toys, flowers, or S&M-style corsets. These women are unsmiling as they confront the viewer, raising the question: is this decoration merely a dramatic facade, or is Hakan’s work a critique of deeper cultural conditions?
Akif Hakan’s sensual photographs are capturing more than just erotica or glamour. Hakan, who is a Turkish-American photographer, carefully designs his characters and scenes, influenced by fashion, cinema, the history of photography and experimental portraits of Man Ray. His goal is to go beyond the charted territories and free himself from the traditional photographic rules so that he can combine various techniques and create a different kind of storytelling. His glamour shots as well as the artistic nudes have a strong cinematic feel, almost as if they were freeze frames from a movie screening.
Hakan was born in Istanbul in Turkey but his career has begun in the United States in 2004, when he was hired as a cameraman in Miami. Unfortunately, the TV station he was working for was shut down and the artist was unemployed for a while, which brought him a lot of free time when he could experiment with other visual arts. He was always interested in photography and he used to take analog photos in the past, so he decided to get some new digital gear and dedicate himself to photography more seriously. After a few years of hard work, Hakan became one of the best glamour photographers working between Asia and the United States. His portfolio features female models of various ethnicities, but predominantly Asian women with their soft, alluring femininity. Hakan is known for his capability to create tangibly intimate sets and voyeuristic, erotic scenes arranged in domestic spaces, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. A portion of his work is also dedicated to alternative erotica – BDSM sets and the art of shibari, similarly to Nobyoshi Araki.
Asian Cinema and Culture
Hakan’s most recent body of work is paying homage to the artist’s fascination with Asian cinema and culture. Lighting and palette of Hakan’s Hong Kong series are inspired by movies such as Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love. Hakan created the sultry noir atmosphere with his dark backgrounds, golden highlights and luxurious textures against the delicate naked skin of his models. Other photos from the artist’s Asian series offer an insight into the avant-garde Japanese fashion. In his Fashion is Image series, Hakan represents the Harajuku fashion style, named after one of the most popular Tokyo urban quarters. His models wear heavy make-up and elaborate costumes embellished with toys or flowers, as well as S&M corsets. Hakan’s artworks depicting Tokyo urban and alternative scene are inevitably raising the questions about cultural and identity issues of the Far East.
Master of Capturing Intimate Moods
Thanks to his beautifully crafted photographs which tread the line between glamour photography and fine art portraiture, Hakan is recognized as one of the best new generation photographers by multiple fashion magazines and he was the finalist in the International Color Awards. His ability to capture the intimate, domestic atmosphere and mix dark, gloomy sentiments with glamour and fashion is truly outstanding. Hakan excelled in creating commercial art that feels strongly personal, in the sense that viewers feel strangely connected to the subjects in his pieces.
Akif Hakan lives between Hong Kong, Istanbul and Miami.