This century’s photographers began by manipulating the sun to draw pictures for them. Drawing on diverse optical techniques going back centuries, it finally became possible to capture an image from life and the photograph emerged. European photographers set out to photograph the legendary lands of the East and compile albums. They rushed joyously to the countries where civilisations had been born. Heedless of the waves of the Mediterranean or the heat of the desert, they pursued their aim with conviction and determination. Thanks to the pioneering photographers who endured these hardships, images not only of ancient monuments but of life in eastern cities were recorded for for posterity. These first steps led to the birth of local photographic studios.
The photographs of the Ottoman photographers preserve the memory of the Ottoman Empire during the last half of the nineteenth century in pictures of coffee houses, the Friday procession to prayer, dervishes, tradesmen, street vendors, the efes (popular and chivalrous bandits of the Aegean region), and the mosaic of races who lived in the Ottoman territories - Montenegrans, Georgians, Egyptians, Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Albanians, Jews, Serbs, Arabs, Circassians, Assyrians, Kurds and Chaldeans. They also recorded the city walls, mosques, churches fountains, Hippodrome, roads, cemeteries, palaces and other historic buildings covering the six century span of the Ottoman Empire and its predecessor, Byzantium.
The archive of Engin Özendes – since 1974 - contains work of Ottoman photographers.