A Travel Photographer Who Became an Ambassador of Cameroon’s Beauty
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Ziya Akturer is a Turkish travel photographer who combines artistic practices with work as an insurance agent. In 2006, he bought his first professional camera after a visit to the Philippines. He soon realized that travel photography is what he wanted to dedicate his life to. A few years later, he quit his main job to travel more and explore the world through the lens of his camera.
Today, Akturer is a successful stock photographer (see his portfolio on Depositphotos) who focuses on exotic landscapes and portrait photography of inhabitants from faraway lands. A couple of years ago, an airline company invited him to visit Cameroon’s kingdoms and then promote its beauty with his pictures. Scroll down to get inspired by his travel stories as well as his captivating photos taken in Cameroon.
Ziya Akturer used a Nikon D 750 and a set of lenses: a Sigma 35 mm, a Sigma 50 mm, a Nikon 85 mm, and a Tamron 16-30 mm. His collection of photography gear allows him to be ready for any subject, whether it’s the spectacular Petpenoun lake or Babungo dancers.
Akturer enjoys taking pictures of both people and landscapes. He considers it a personal mission to explore exotic cultures with his camera. The photographer believes that selling his shots on Depositphotos is a great bonus, however, it’s not the aim of his practice. For this reason, he freely chooses his subjects and builds personal connections with different people and places.
Ziya Akturer feels that although photography courses and books can provide a lot of professional tips, it is more important to learn photography by taking pictures and finding your own motivation. Wanderlust fueled Akturer’s desire to polish his photography skills and learn about the potential of his equipment. As a result, in 2015, he was invited on a trip to Cameroon as a photojournalist in order to promote the beauty of this little-known country to Europeans.
Akturer said that the first thing you need to know before traveling to Cameroon is the French language. You also need a local guide with a jeep or a good cross-country vehicle. There is no public transportation in Cameroon and intercity roads can be quite challenging due to potholes.
It took Ziya Akturer around 2 weeks to visit several Cameroon kingdoms (there are around 450 of them in total), local tribes, Pygmy villages, and the seaside.
The Babungo Kingdom, which is located in the Northern part of Cameroon, impressed him most. He said, “We stayed there for 2 nights and saw traditional African dance. Groups of dancers replaced one another and performed their rituals playing tam-tams and flutes. They chased evil spirits and called good ones. I felt like I was in the middle of a movie set!”
The artist could never forget the Petpenoun lake (also known as the “Twins Lakes”). In his opinion, this is one of the most beautiful sites in Cameroon. The bungalows surrounding the majestic lake look beautiful and well-maintained. There, visitors can enjoy various sports, such as water skiing, tennis, or badminton. In addition, tourists can explore the lake in a motorboat, sailboat, or authentic canoe.
Portrait photographers usually have a tough time shooting in Cameroon, as most locals don’t like being shot and usually ask to be paid. However, if you manage to build meaningful relationships with locals, they might consider it. Cameroonians (especially children), with whom Ziya managed to establish an emotional connection, were happy to pose and even invited him to their homes.
“If your hero is beautiful, the photo will be beautiful too,” Ziya Akturer told us. In Cameroon, he often chose subjects by their facial expressions or clothing, as they both speak volumes about their personality and lifestyle. His favorite heroes are the local children he shot in natural, low-light environments.
Unlike Babungo people, who are quite social and open-minded, Bagyeli Pygmies are less friendly outsiders. This is because they don’t interact with other tribes or nations often. Pygmies build simple huts and live in an isolated, distant area where transportation is only possible by canoe.
The photographer was impressed by his interactions with Ndofua Zofoa III, the twenty-fifth King of Babungo. “With the clothes he wears and his self-confident stance, he does not need to say that he is the king. He spent plenty of time in Italy, Spain, and America and can speak French and English. The king also has 58 children,” explained Akturer.
In recent years, travel photography has become a highly popular genre on photo stocks, and you can use Depositphotos to take a quick yet inspiring trip online. Some of the most mesmerizing and scenic spots Ziya Akturer recommends visiting are Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Petra in Jordan, Lombok in Indonesia, and Cuba.