Our Vice-President Emily Guggino sits down with Studio Manhattan Founder, Photographer, and President to pick his brain. Up for discussion? Topics range from the American Dream, to an interesting run-in with former President Bill Clinton, and even advice for leading a meaningful life. Read on. It's worth your while.
Emily: So what made you want to leave a comfortable job as an editor and photojournalist for Posta in Istanbul, Turkey and move to the US?
Ayhan: It was always my dream to live the American dream. Really, living outside of the US, we always watched American TV like Night Rider and listened to American music. New York was calling me from a very young age.
Emily: And are you living the American dream?
Ayhan: I think so.
Emily: I heard you had a run in with Bill Clinton. Can you tell me about that?
Ayhan: Yes [laughs]. I was walking down the street and the sky was really dark. There was a huge line that wrapped all the way around the block. I thought to myself I'm going to buy some umbrellas and sell them to these people; it's going to rain so hard. So I went and bought a bunch of umbrellas and I had them in my hand when it started to rain. I struggled for a while, thinking I can't do this, but I jumped out and did it anyway. People were throwing money at me for the umbrellas. I was soaking wet and money was hanging out of my pockets. The security guard asked me for an umbrella and for giving him one pushed me inside and handed me a book. Before I knew it I was face to face soaking wet with Bill Clinton. He asked me what happened to me. With my horribly broken English i told him what I did. And he looked at me, shook my hand and said "Welcome to America."
Ayhan: I've met him again since then in a less compromising position.
Emily: How did you get your start in NY?
Ayhan: Its been a long journey. I struggled a lot to find a job. Going from knowing everyone to knowing no one was so humbling. I learned how to let go of my ego. One day with only a couple of dollars in my pocket I saw people in Central Park and decided to take their picture. With my broken English I would walk up to them and ask if they'd like to buy the picture I just took of them. It worked! People actually bought them, and I did that for months making good money until I got kicked out of Central Park. Months later I started selling my photographs on the street in front of the Guggenheim.
Emily: And how was that?
A: It took a lot of work to find the perfect mix of good photography and images people wanted to buy. But people did, and I enjoyed meeting and talking to people from all over the world. I met my wife there. But it was tough. I used to sleep on my table some nights in order to make sure I could get my spot in the morning. Believe it or not, there's a lot of competition on the street.
Emily: What kept you going?
Ayhan: Passion for photography and a desire to be successful.
Emily: If there was one piece of advice that you would give a young artist starting out, or to anyone following their passion in life, what would it be?
Ayhan: We are here only temporarily, so you need to do what you love and make it meaningful. I live by that mantra.
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