Meet Elif Kahveci: the “eye” behind the “Bil’s Conversations” series, photo editor and freelance photographer. We talked to Elif about the art of photography, her inspirations, and of course, shirts.

Photos: Emir Sarısaç

Hello, Elif! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Elif Kahveci, where does she live, and what does she spend most of her time doing?
Hi! I live in Bostancı (Istanbul) with my two cats. And no, I haven’t started making felt crafts yet! For about four and a half years now, I have been the photo editor of art unlimited. I am currently involved in various projects as a freelance photographer. I am moving forward with baby steps in the field of art, which started with the Mamut Art Project for me in 2015. I strive to keep my creative effort alive by participating in workshops and events when I have the time, opportunity and the right headspace. My favourite thing to do is to read a book in the shadow of a tree while resting against it and earthing, and then taking a nap; but this is not how I spend most of my time these days!

How did you get into photography? What made you interested in it?
I studied Visual Communication Design at Bilgi University. In high school, I attended the artist Mahir Güven’s atelier to improve my painting skills. I can’t say that I was preparing for a Fine Arts Degree, because I enjoyed drawing things other than the figures we needed to work on. My creative world has always been visually oriented; therefore, I was inclined towards the visual arts. Although my department at the university did not offer a comprehensive education in the field of photography, my productions have always been in this field. I had submitted my final project as a photo series, as well. This decision of mine did not please my professors in the jury, bless them! After graduating, I carried on working professionally in the field of photography.

Do you remember your first photo shoot? Whose photo did you take and where?
Apart from the photos I took out of interest and for school projects, my first photo shoot was for Natama magazine; the photos I took at my interview with the late Ahmet Oktay at his house in Göztepe, Istanbul.

What about your first camera?
My dear grandfather bought me an Olympus digital camera when I started high school. Disregarding the analog snapshots that I took using our family camera, I consider my Olympus as my first camera.

What are the 3 things you can’t live without?
Air, sun, nutrition

Do you prefer digital or analog cameras?
Analog at heart, digital in practice.

What inspires you?
Everything that I think should be protected; from everyday moments to the overlooked, the habits that are deemed “non-worthy” and the micro-cultural formations.

What is the sentence you keep repeating to yourself that reflects your philosophy of life?
Trust more and be patient – sometimes I have to repeat it not to forget!

Could you tell us something that you normally hesitate to tell other people; a guilty pleasure, perhaps?
I enjoy looking at other people’s phones on public transport to see how they chose to name their WhatsApp group or their contacts. I feel like an uninvited guest in their world. I don’t read their messages, though.

People who want to look good choose to wear shirts. Hence, a shirt indicates self-respect to me.

What does wearing a shirt mean to you?
I believe, people who want to look good choose to wear shirts. Hence, a shirt indicates self-respect to me.

Could you share your thoughts on Bil’s and its products?
As I get older, I care about having a few essentials, rather than having too many things. It is important to me that these pieces both reflect me and be of good quality. When I’m shopping, I specifically pay attention to the fabric contents. Organic cotton Bil’s fabrics are perfect in that sense. Bil’s is an honest and trustworthy brand. Frankly, Bil’s have changed my perception towards shirts with its designs.

What do you think of the Bil’s Capri shirt dress you wore today?
It was incredibly comfortable, which is highly important to me. My body was definitely happy. I also thought that I wish I could wear this shirt dress in Capri.

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