Chronological Order

Thematic order


Semiha Es

Semiha Es

First travel and war photographer of the Turkish press
"I have never been without a camera in my hand for nearly half a century."

Date of Birth: 01/01/1912 1912

Place of Birth: Sarıgüzel, Istanbul

Date of Death: 11/12/2012 2012

Place of Death: Istanbul

Burial Site: Zincirlikuyu Cemetery, Istanbul



Semiha Es Semiha Es Semiha Es

Field of Activity

"We would spend nearly five days a week at the front in Korea. On weekends we would fly to Tokyo with military aircrafts. During the week, at Headquarters I would sleep in barracks for women. I tried to sleep on wooden bunks, curling up even without undressing. We would sit on wooden boxes when traveling on trucks full of bombs among various zones at the front.

One day we learned that an airplane had crashed nearby. İmmediately we drove to the site. In fact the airplane had not crashed but had to make a forced landing. I ran towards the plane. Just when I was starting to take pictures, Hikmet came hastily, pulled me forcefully back, and started to take pictures. I thought that my husband was not going to give me the chance of taking pictures of an important event. But when I learned later that Hikmet was trying to save my life as he was thinking that the plane would explode, I was very touched.

All I have seen and lived during war has affected me a lot, especially the human aspect. It was a difficult and bitter experience for me to witness the cruelty and troubles civilians endure all because wars that result from conflicts of self-interest among politicians.

Even when I was very young, I had a camera and I loved taking pictures. I had this passion for taking pictures, but I never thought that it was going to be my profession until I met Hikmet and married him. At that time my husband was one of the most successful journalists whose articles and interviews were printed in many publications. I began working with Hikmet as a photographer in Yedigün Magazine.

I took pictures from Hollywood to African tribes, from the Korean and Vietnam wars to Ruanda incidents. My photo-interviews about Malatya, Congo, Hollywood stars and Teheran seen through the eyes of a woman have been published in Hayat Magazine. When the war in Korea started, the newspaper Hürriyet engaged me to take pictures of the war, and together with my husband we began working for the newspaper Hürriyet.

I have never been without my camera in my hand for half a century."

Some sources for photos of Semiha Es

Hayat Magazine, April 1950 first issue: An Interview about the city of Malatya of Hikmet Feridun Es with a photoreportage of Semiha Es

Hayat Magazine,11.11.1950, Korea Supplement, Korea News of Hikmet Feridun Es with Korea War photos of Semiha Es


  • 2011"Honorary Award" conferred under Turkish Photography Awards


(No information available)


(No information available)

Contributions to Society

(No information available)

Family and Friends

  • Mother:(information not available)
  • Father:(information not available)
  • Marriage: Hikmet Feridun Es (Journalist)
  • Friends:(information not available)

Projects in her Honour

International Symposium
Semiha Es – The Women Photographers International Symposium, 28-30 November 2012, Istanbul

Semiha Es - The Women Photographers International Symposium took place in Istanbul on November 28-30, 2013 in cooperation with the Women's Museum Istanbul, the Gender and Women's Studies Forum at Sabancı University, and Koç University's Center for Gender Studies (KOÇ-KAM). The symposium is being organized to commemorate Semiha Es (1912-2012), Turkey's first female travel and war photographer.

Click here for symposium poster
Click here for Press release
Click here for the program of the symposium (Turkish / English)
Dokumentary of the symposium

"Semiha Es" and ""Second Eye: Women Photographers from Turkey" Exhibition, 29 November 2014, Istanbul
Two photography exhibitions titled "Semiha Es" and "Second Eye: Women Photographers from Turkey" organised as parallel events to Semiha Es - The Women Photographers International Symposium. The exhibition titled "Semiha Es," has been organized as a tribute to Turkey's first female travel and war photographer Semiha Es. The second exhibition, "Second Eye: Women Photographers from Turkey," displays the intellectual and artistic accomplishments of 26 Turkish women photographers who since the 1980s have produced a significant body of work that has contributed to the liberation of photographic expression.

Poster of the exhibition
catalouge of the exhibition

A special jazz composition

At the opening on November 29, jazz pianist and composer Ayşe Tütüncü presented a piece inspired by four photographers featured in the Istanbul Women's Museum's permanent exhibition: Naciye Hanım (1881-1970) first professional Muslim woman photographer; Maryam Şahinyan (1911-1996) first professional Armenian woman photographer in Turkey; Semiha Es (1912-2012) Turkey's first woman travel and war photographer; and Eleni Küreman (1921-2001) first professional woman photojournalist for the Turkish press, also first professional Greek woman photographer in Turkey.

Documentary in Her Memory

Nisvan - Tarihe Adını Yazdıran Kadınlar, script: Mustafa Karadiş, Yıldız Bakoğlu, director: Hüsamettin Ünlüoğlu, 2012.

Further Reading


Quoted Sources
  • See the section "Further Reading"
Source of Visual Images

Translation into English: Çetin Alanya, Istanbul, Turkey
Editing: Judith Cederblom, Seattle, Washington, USA

©2012 Meral Akkent
euro.message madebycat ®