By Mary Ongwen
The HQ1 IMF café was a buzz with conversations. Under the sparkling chandelier reflections Ceyda Öner and I sit down to a chat and the voices in the background faded out.
Ceyda is the Deputy Division Chief in the Finance unit of the IMF. She is also the outgoing president of the IPS club.
Qn: Tell me a little about yourself and how you started on this photography journey.
Ceyda: I’m from Turkey. I was born in the US but went back to Turkey at the age of six. Growing up in two places always made me curious about the differences. I kept looking for hidden clues in the world to establish why these places are so different from each other. The move from US to Turkey was a life changing event and that made me look very carefully at the details around me. It sparked my interest in photography. I wanted to show the little things that people don’t necessarily see on a day to day basis. I wanted to show them something about the world that they hadn’t seen before and maybe explain why places have their own unique characteristics.
I try to capture moments that will be gone in a minute or show something that I have seen and hope people see as well. I’m interested in conceptual themes.
Qn: As president of the IPS did you have specific objectives and what was your highlight?
Ceyda: Coming into the position of president I had two objectives. One was to promote learning and collaboration among club members and to place less focus on competition. I also wanted the meetings to be more inclusive and interactive around a table where we could exchange ideas.
My highlights have been a series of moments like the IPS 50th anniversary and our annual exhibitions. I think the first annual exhibition opening ceremony stands out the most. It was the first time we called all volunteers to the stage. That showed how much IPS runs on volunteers. People put in so much work and share great ideas. The first time I saw the new electronic photo submission, or the first time I saw our redesigned website – those stick out as well. Even a great club meeting where its crowded and everybody is having fun. It has been a series of moments.
Qn: Which photographers inspire you?
Ceyda: One is Sebastião Salgado. It’s nearly obvious for IMF/World Bank staff with an interest in photography to admire his work. The other is Saul Leiter, a photographer I came to know through a course I took at Photo works in Glen echo park. The course was “In the style of a master photographer” where I learned about significant photographers in the history of photography. He stuck out for me because his images looked like ones you would throw out. There are details in his images that are striking, one has to take a second look for the image starts to reveal it self. When you pay attention you start to appreciate what he is trying to show. He also does color in a beautiful way.
Qn: How were you able to achieve the work and photography balance?
Ceyda: There’s only one way and that is through the help of volunteers. It’s only by an army of dedicated volunteers who deliver that we can accomplish much. We are all busy with work, family, friends and other things in our lives. The only way any of us can deliver on the promises we make to the club is by the support of others.
Qn: If money were not an issue and you were given the golden chance, what kind of camera would you get and where would you go to shoot?
Ceyda: I would get a digital medium format camera (it goes for around $30,000) and I would go to Iceland in the middle of the winter to shoot the aurora borealis (Northern Lights). Obviously with unlimited money I would keep warm in a heated bubble. I think the aurora borealis is one of the most amazing nature experiences. Nobody knows when it’s going to happen so one has to sit and wait.
I might consider doing more research on places to go with my $30,000 camera.
Well, Ceyda it was nice chatting. Let’s hope you chance on that money and make your dreams come true.