Katil Var was a long time coming. I preordered it back in early 2019 and waited patiently through editing woes, issues with printers, and then COVID-related fun stuff, but it’s finally here! And unusually for me, I’m reviewing it in a timely manner, largely to get some press out for the book.
tl;dr: Katil Var is excellent. It’s perhaps the best pure street photography book I’ve seen from a contemporary photographer. Copies remain available: go buy one now and come back to read (and/or thank me) later. This isn’t a paid ad or anything: I bought the book just like (most) everyone else. I just really think this book needs to be in your hands.
I first became acquainted with Kirk back in 2011 or 2012, during my (thinking-I-wanted-to-or-could-be-a-)street-photog days and thanks to Eric Kim… smh. Those days are long past: I’m not a street photographer. Shoot. I don’t know what kind of photographer I am. I’ve barely clicked the shutter in months.
But Kirk is a Street Photographer in the classic sense, capital ‘S,’ capital ‘P.’ Katil Var is, remarkably, his first photobook. I would’ve thought he’d have a couple out by now, though if his updates have been any indication, it’s not been an easy task. Three years of shooting with a Leica MP and a flash and HP5, 40,000 negatives, Gezi park, the Soma mining disaster, the refugee crisis, a deportation, self doubt, procrastination, self doubt, and then led to Katil Var and its 48 pictures. I’m reminded here of Frank’s Americans, and why I’m unlikely to ever produce anything like this. You have to put in the work, and Kirk worked.
The gestures, glances, puns, landscapes, jokes, clouds of teargas turned dreamscapes by the black & white film and bright sunshine… I just can’t put this book down. The images are universally excellent and flow perfectly; the book is right-sized and perfect for close, intimate viewing; I really have nothing bad to say about this book: it’s a joy in every way.
Overall, I give Katil Var a well-deserved and solid 4.8 stars.
As mentioned above, Katil Var remains available direct from Kirk. Do yourself a favor and drop the £35 on it. You won’t regret it. And do yourself another, cheaper, favor and follow @twocutedogs on Instagram.
I really wish I was a better reviewer. Kirk and Katil Var deserve a someone that can actually write coherently about photographs and photobooks. A Szarkowski or Steichen to champion the work. Maybe someone already has… Google is no help thanks to a conservative
bullshitter pundit with the same name. Appending “photographer” helps, but the first two pages are a mix of interviews from 2011/12 and Eric Kim, and then Google runs out of results. Shame. I did find a reddit thread that’s wildly critical of Kirk’s technique, the shove-the-camera-and-off-camera-flash-in-someones-face ambush thing more popularly associated with Bruce Gilden. There’s a bit of that in Katil Var, but there’s more there too, and even if the shooting technique isn’t your thing (it’s not mine either: I have some admiration for it, but I’m simultaneously and overwhelmingly creeped out by it) the images he made in Turkey between 2012 and 2015 are undeniably excellent. And if you want to claim that your child or a monkey could come up with a 48 picture photobook out of 40,000 negatives, I invite you to go shoot those 40 thousand negatives, or get your kid to, and then put out a photobook, get me to buy a copy, and see if I swoon over it. I’ll wait.
In the mean time, go buy this book. Now.