Meet Evrim Icoz, owner and manager of Evrim Icoz Photography. Originally hailing from Turkey, this shutterbug embraces life with fierce passion – infusing his images with an energy and warmth. A dance junkie and a tech-nerd, Evrim is fascinated with capturing the fleeting moments of intimacy, movement, and irony. The result: a signature photography style and images that are sure to be keepsakes for generations to come.
Vibrant Table chatted with Evrim about his background, business, and interests. He’s got a great story… enjoy!
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VT: Your path to photography is absolutely fascinating. Will you share your journey with us?
I entered the field looking for a change. After graduating from Duke University with a Master’s in Computer Engineering, I spent several years working for Intel before I realized I needed a different kind of challenge.
I always have been interested in art, and wanted to find a way to express my artistic side. One day I went to First Thursday (a monthly Portland art event), and was amazed by some of the art. Since I was always curious about photography, the next day I went and bought a Canon camera. This was 1998.
Photography runs in my family. My grandfather was a professional photographer, and my dad put himself through college by doing photography on weekends. My personal interest in another art form, dance, also helped me to learn my new craft.
I am a dancer, doing swing—lindy hop dancing mostly, and I started taking my camera to dances. I could not have chosen a harder subject as it is a very fast moving dance, and you have to catch the dancers at just the right time, in a low light situation. This forced me to update my skills and cameras and to faster lenses. The lenses I wanted were not cheap, so I had to make some money. So I decided to do some events on the side. The artistic and business side fascinated me, so I got more and more interested, and soon, I was working two jobs. Intel during the week, photography on the weekends. I won 1st place in WPPI, possibly the most competitive wedding photography competition, and that accelerated my desire to only do photography. I decided that cubicle life was not for me, and since then, I have been doing only photography.
It turned out to be a great journey so far. My business grew leaps and bounds, won more awards, and it has taken me to many amazing countries, and to meet some of the world’s most well-known and talented people.
VT: Why photography? Why not a different art form?
It was a very natural fit for me, at the time, as a somewhat shy engineer. It was an easy way to express myself. It was technical in nature so my engineering degree really helped me perfect the technical side so I can execute my artistic vision. In addition, I am a sentimental person and I love documenting life, so it was in some ways the only art form for documenting life (along with video).
I offer many different services. Obviously, documentary photography. However, I am also very proficient in posed photography as well, and I cover many corporate events. Since I was in the corporate world for a while, I know of the expectations of professional environments. Other areas I work on are children and family photography, bar and bat mitzvah’s, dance photography, headshots, model portfolios and new to this year, I also offer photo booth services!
VT: Why is it important to hire an experienced, professional photographer?
I have been doing wedding photography for 11 years. Over the years, I have photographed in many different venues, lighting situations, different customs, cultures etc. When you do as many events, you learn how to handle difficult situations, and do it quickly and without stressing the bride and groom. For example, if the bride and groom is late, say stuck in traffic, you have to develop a contingency plan on the fly. I can tell you with honesty that this only comes with doing it for a long time. Also, having photographed in most venues in Portland and with a lot of different vendors, I am familiar with the locations, and have established ties with many of the vendors which makes your event go smoother. We can also take care of our clients much easier after the event as well, since we are familiar with the newest techniques and products and have been doing customer service for a long time. In addition, due to our name recognition, we are able to get our clients in to publications as well.
Another way an experienced photographer can help is in helping plan the day. We help our clients decide on best locations and times, and how to fit that in to their schedule. I work with other vendors, especially the wedding planner, to help come up with a stress free and realistic schedule.
VT: There are a lot of talented photographers in Portland. What makes Evrim Icoz Photography stand out?
First of all, the quality and style of the photography and our products. My style is an artistic, classic photojournalistic style. I believe that we offer the best value in Portland, as we spend close to and sometimes over 30 hours in editing, and do all our own editing as opposed to farm it out. Our final proofs are ready to print. In addition, the heirloom portraits and albums benefit from my further, dark room style classic editing as well. Our quality has been also established by the publications we have been featured in, both in US, and also in Italy, Turkey and Canada and some of our awards come from the most prestigious international bodies judged by very talented professionals.
My focus is taking care of my clients. It is not just a business for me to make a quick buck, or to have hundreds of weddings. Personal relationships, professionalism and helping my clients with their wedding day are also important considerations that differentiate us.
Another very important factor is that we are one of the most established, yet modern photography businesses in Portland. Experience counts in this business!
Customer service is also a very important factor. I have always tried to make it right by my clients and be fair, so customer service and taking care of our clients is of utmost concern, and that is another aspect that I am proud of.
VT: Does being from Turkey influence your photography at all?
Of course. Turkey is a cross roads between west and east, between Asia and Europe, Mediterranean and Middle East. We are a very dramatic, artistic and innovative group of people and when I was growing up, Turkey was going through very tough times. I find that cultures that are going through tough times economically become very innovative, and also very expressive, as coping mechanisms. Such a cultural experience breeds creativity and artistic expression, though not necessarily able to rewards the artists financially. A lot of my photos try to tell a story, and in an expressive way. I also find that my photos are more multi-dimensional and not necessarily the cliché modern photography that by its nature is very short lived, but they tend to tell more of a story and has more lasting power as classic story tellers. I also think that a lot of my photography is very romantic, as we are a romantic people, and understatedly dramatic.
VT: You’re known for more than wedding photography. Tell us about other types of photography you practice.
I do dance photography, pinups, headshots, bar and bat mitzvah’s, corporate events, and annual reports. One of my favorite things to do, and I wish I had more time to do it, is to do vintage style of photography, be it pinups or dance photography.
VT: I know you’ve earned national recognition. What awards have you won?
WPPI, the leading organization for Wedding and Portrait Photographers, holds an annual convention and a contest. The convention is attended by 15-18000 people every year and has many thousands of entries. I was honored to win their 1st place twice and second place once.
WPJA is the leading organization for Wedding Photojournalists and the members include Pulitzer award winning photographers. They hold quarterly contests and based on the success in those 4 contests, they choose their photographer of the year. In 2006, I placed second internationally, and first place in USA.
Oregon Bride magazine holds a yearly contest, voted by industry peers and brides, and I won Best Wedding Vendor in 2009. Interestingly, I have missed every award ceremony I have been awarded in my life. C’est la vie.
VT: How has photography changed since you’ve been in the field? How have you changed with it?
Photography has changed a lot. In many ways, for the good. We now have amazing equipment and support services, new products at lower price points, and many places we can share our work. The quality of photography has increased as well. There are now many more new photographers, bringing competition and dynamic energy. One area that has also changed is style. Possibly due to the increasing number of workshops offered to photographers and also to proliferation of inspiration blogs, a more sellable and easily available photography style emerged called modern photography which focuses less on capturing moments and stories and more on details and posed shots. In a way, that is an advantage for experienced photojournalist style of photographers as we have always offered that along with storytelling candids.
I think that as newer photographers in the field get experienced we will see a blend of that approach. Trends tend to go cyclic and I see story telling becoming important again.
The way I’ve changed is by embracing that approach without sacrificing what I always believed wedding photography is about – to create a documentary of your wedding day so you can look at it decades later with your new family and re-live those moments. I always stay fresh, give myself assignment, try never to get complacent, and network with fellow high quality vendors. Since I have always offered a good mix of candids, posed shots, artistic shots and detail shots, I feature a nice mix on my blog to help clients see the venues well, have inspiration and also get a real sense of my style. My approach is not one or the other. I provide sometimes close to 1000 images to my clients, and it is a balanced mix of storytelling, modern and classic photography.
I also have opened a studio space that is allowing me to shoot more carefully crafted portraits. That is a great way to differentiate myself as studio lighting requires lots of expertise and you can do a lot of fun things with it! Another area that I will be concentrating on is movies/video. I have always wanted to direct, and this year will be an exciting year for me.
VT: What/who inspires you? Are there any ideas or trends that you find exciting right now?
I am still inspired by pre-war and war time European (especially in Paris) photographers such as Doisneau, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Capa. However, since I am currently working on portraits and light experimentation, I am very interested in some of the best portrait and fashion photographers.
I do not necessarily focus on trends, to be honest, as they change. I am more interested in timeless styles, and less on trendiness. However, interestingly, one trend is to return to basics and offer more classic type of photography, that relies more on skill and less Photoshop, and that is something I am very interested in.
VT: You seem to be everywhere! Any secrets you can share for the fledgling photographer?
Just have fun, make friends with other photographers and vendors, have a smile and treat everyone fairly. Rely less on equipment and fancy gadgets but learn the craft well so you can express your artistic vision freely. Always give your best at every event and be true to yourself. I also recommend creating a unique style that distinguishes you. In addition, be very selective about workshops you take and equipment you buy, as there are many such things that promise quick return. There is no easy path, you just need to put the hours in, work hard, and you will be fine.
VT: Just for fun, any professional pet peeves?
Flaky or unprofessional people and people who burn bridges.
VT: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
One of the reasons I was not happy at my corporate job was because I didn’t feel like I made a difference in the world. I genuinely care about my clients and am proud of my work that I give them. I love creating lasting connections with them. From a not so smart business perspective, I definitely tend to overdo how much time I spend per client especially in the editing, but in the long term, my clients benefit. I want my clients to look at their photographs years and years later and be really happy they that hired me to document the beginning of their family history. In that way, I am making a change for them and for their expanding family and leaving behind something that will live on.
More Images by Evrim Icoz Photography
All photography for this post provided by Evrim Icoz. See even more on Evrim’s website.
What about you?
What’s your favorite Evrim shot? Have you worked with Evrim before? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!