Introducing 1854’s Fast Track Vol. 2 winners: Ulas & Merve, Sophie Jane Stafford and Nadaud Aïcha Fall

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1854’s FastTrack open up call promotes unsigned skill in the commercial sphere. Here, all of us meet three of this year’s winners: from celebrating Black experiences to having fun in front of the lens, they discuss there is no benefits important to their processes

“Everything has the potential to become an idea, or a starting point, for a take. A colour, a material, some reflection on a surface, ” says Merve Türkan. “Sometimes it starts by us saying ‘let’s do something red’ or even ‘let’s play with this’. Our home is also our facilities and we are the models, so if an idea pops into our minds, we can start capturing immediately. ” Türkan, 35, is certainly discussing her collaborative creative process. She is one half of the self-taught photography duo Ulas & Merve , along with her companion, 40-year-old Ulaş Kesebir. The particular pair first met this year and grew up in Turkey, but are currently living in Greater london.

Ulas & Merve were recently named two of 1854’s FastTrack winners. The particular initiative was launched earlier this year in order to champion the industry’s freshest, unsigned talent amongst staff, advertising agencies and brand names at LE BOOK Cable connections Europe and throughout 1854’s global network. It is now in its second edition.  

© Ulas & Merve

© Ulas & Merve

“It was based on the relationship; how we support each other and how entangled we’ve become. We used ourselves because models and decided on the styling and location together. We loved the results. ”

Ulas & Merve

© Ulas & Merve

© Ulas & Merve

Imbued with a subtle feeling of fun, Türkan says playfulness is crucial to the style the duo have developed together. I love humour, color and especially movement, ” the girl says. Kesebir meanwhile, looks for a lot more “s urrealist, weird and fun things” to shoot.

One of Ulas & Merve’s favourite industrial commissions was back in 2018; a campaign for the handbag brand Mlouye. “It had been based on our relationship; the way you support each other and how interlaced we’ve become, ” describes Kesebir. “We used ourselves as models and chosen the styling and area together. We loved the outcomes. ” Shot against the neutral backdrop in a satisfied palette of pinks and yellows, the Mlouye photoshoot is typical of the cosmetic the duo have honed. In each of the images, their particular limbs are entwined – skillfully reflecting the criss-cross design of the bags by themselves.  

© Sophie Stafford.

Another of this year’s FastTrack selectees is Sophie Anne Stafford. Born in Hull, she is now based among Leeds and London. With a warm-hued and intimate type of photographing, Stafford’s early curiosity about photojournalism has shaped the girl subject matter. “I am drawn to cultural events and how they may be adapted, preserved, and given to new generations who else, in turn, make them as their very own, evolving them with modern ethnicities and technology, ” the girl says.

One example of this method is her project titled Paris Raves , documents young techno lovers congregating in the streets of the French capital. In the mean time, Rose of the Desert , based around the annual International Festival of the Sahara, is another. “That project shifts its gaze to contemporary Tunisians living in countryside Tunisia, exploring the clash of modern and historic wilderness culture at the festival, ” Stafford says.  

© Sophie Stafford.

© Sophie Stafford.

Off the back of Rose of the Wasteland , Stafford was commissioned to cover the World Nomad Online games in Kyrgyzstan for the UK-based Riposte magazine in 2018. The project ultimately developed into a longer-term series. “The images in this project were the extra images I chance during down time, ” the lady explains. “They explore the particular inner workings of the event and the people involved, shining a light not on the major show, but on what goes with it: from the racing panic of the build-up to the lengthy, lazy hours spent winding down after. ” Later on, the project was shortlisted for the 2021 Libraryman award .  

One of Stafford’s most pleasurable commercial jobs has been an indoor research project for Nike. “I worked with researcher and writer Bwalya Newton to interview young women in London, Paris plus Berlin, ” she recalls fondly. In her private work, she’s been returning to an old series shot within a bingo hall, and programs to publish it as a zine later this year.  

© Sophie Stafford.

For 30-year-old, Abidjan-based Nadaud A ï cha Fall – another of this FastTrack edition’s selectees – her lived experience as a Black woman, and her childhood in Côte d’Ivoire, have shaped her function. “It’s a country quite rich in culture, history and ethnicities, ” she states. “It’s a diverse put in place terms of population – I myself am a direct result an union between a Senegalese woman and an Ivorian man. ” Right after she left for France at 13, Fall found herself living in a place where Black women were sorely underrepresented in the media and in art. It inspired the girl to create work that would provide the women a space within that landscape.  

“Being a big fan of fabulous tales, but not often viewing people who look like me within them, I wanted to create my very own version. This project is simply that – an imaginary, visual tale where I actually narrate how Black systems are capable of doing wonders, but also sometimes just Black bodies existing, simply and attractively. ”

Nadaud The ï cha Fall

© Nadaud Fall Aicha.

© Nadaud Fall Aicha.

This focus are available in projects such as A Chair at the Table – a rich and sun-soaked collection of pictures, partying the Black experience. “Being a big fan of great tales, but not often viewing people who look like me within them, I wanted to create my very own version, ” she states. “This project is just that will – a fantastical, visual tale where I narrate how Black bodies are equipped for doing wonders, but also occasionally just Black bodies existing, simply and beautifully. ” She began the project in late December 2019; many of the women in her images are herself, her friends, her sister, aunty and mother. “These are my first inspirations, ” she adds.

Fall hopes to translate her personal inspirations into her commercial work. “It can be a challenge, but I always follow my instinct and put my soul into it, ” she says warmly. “A powerful portrait in my opinion is one that is able to capture a person’s true originality, and one that helps you say to a tale, through your lens. ”

© Nadaud Fall Aicha.

© Nadaud Fall Aicha.

Joanna Cresswell

Joanna L. Cresswell is a writer and publisher based in Brighton. She has composed on photography and culture for over 40 international magazines and journals, and held positions as editor for organisations including The Photographers’ Gallery, Unseen Amsterdam and Self Publish, Be Happy. She recently completed an MA in comparative literature and criticism at Goldsmiths College, University of London

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