April 22, 2021

Airport Employee Photographs Travelers He Encounters From Around the World To Show the Beauty of Diversity

Mustafa Çankaya is an accomplished photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey.

But by day, he works at the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, which is where he found himself inspired by the thousands of travelers from around the world. He decided to start photographing travelers in March 2018, which turned into a project named “100 Faces 100 Countries.”

Çankaya’s Instagram for the project is starting to take off, and even though he’s been at it for less than a year, Çankaya has already captured 117 portraits of airport travelers from 77 different countries. His end goal? To have at least 100 countries represented.

Keep scrolling to see some of the project’s most striking portraits, and to learn more about the people in them.

Mustafa Çankaya: Instagram

#1 NICOLE FROM UKRAINE

Mustafa Çankaya  – “Nicole is a tattoo artist from Odessa. She was starting a tour in Europe for tattoo lovers.”

“I’m a photographer from Istanbul who work at center for photography also works at Atatürk Airport and at the same time I run photography blog because I really enjoy photography news websites. I see thousands of different faces passing by every day, from every culture and every part of the world. It is like a treasure for a photographer like me! This inspired me to combine my passion for photography with my work at the airport and create a new project called “100 Faces 100 Countries” for my photography blog.

Almost every day I walk around the transit section of the airport trying to find the right face. The person that I decide to shoot has to be different in some way. It could be the hairstyle or the dress but the most important is the atmosphere between me and the participant.

I have started my project in March 2018 and currently I have 117 portraits from 77 different countries. I will continue my project with the hope of having an exhibition of 100 different countries. When I posted my project on Bored Panda in May 2018, it was published by German, Portuguese, French, Bulgarian and Turkish media.
I love how this project connects the world in one place! I also participate on photo websites for photographers where we share our ideas and our passion. – Mustafa Çankaya 

#2 SHAYMA FROM KUWAIT

Mustafa Çankaya – “Shayma was following the project before we met. She wrote me between her connecting flight to Greece. She studies medicine in Malta and also volunteers for refugees in Athens.”

“I see thousands of different faces passing by every day, from every culture and every part of the world,” Çankaya writes. “It is like a treasure for a photographer like me!” This inspired him to combine the two facets of his life. Now, he walks around the “transit section” of the airport with an added purpose of finding the right face to photograph. “The person that I decide to shoot has to be different in some way. It could be the hairstyle or the dress but the most important is the atmosphere between me and the participant.”

Çankaya has captured not only over 100 faces from 100 countries but also our fascination with his inspirational project.

#3 FREYA FROM SCOTLAND

Mustafa Çankaya – “Freya studies Human Sciences at University of Oxford. She was flying to Kenya for her studies.”

Çankaya’s passion project began in March 2018.

“I see thousands of different faces passing by every day, from every culture and every part of the world. It is like a treasure for a photographer like me,” he writes.

This influx of diverse faces is what inspired Çankaya to combine his day job with his love of photography.

When it comes to choosing his subjects, Çankaya looks for a single thing that makes them unique or different.

It could be a certain hairstyle or way of dressing, but ultimately it comes down to “the atmosphere” between the Çankaya and the participant.

#4 BASH FROM LEBANON

Mustafa Çankaya – “Bash arrived from the Burning Man festival, the dust is still on his shoes. He is a percussion artist playing djembe drum.”

“Tina’s hairstyle is a piece of art. The moment I saw her, I thought she should be in the project,” he writes on Instagram.  In addition to portraits, Çankaya photographs wider shots of his subjects that further capture their personality.

His goal is to live up to the name of his project, and photograph subjects from at least 100 different countries.

#5 IBRAHIM ZETHY FROM RWANDA

Mustafa Çankaya – “This is what happens if you meet a dancer from Rwanda at the airport. Thanks to Ibrahim Zethy!”

#6 KAVINTHIDA FROM THAILAND

Mustafa Çankaya – “Kavinthida had holidays in Denmark. She had a very long layover.”

#7 INDRĖ FROM LITHUANIA

Mustafa Çankaya – “Indrė was heading to California to spend her summer there.”

#8 FRÉDÉRIC FROM FRANCE

Mustafa Çankaya – “Frédéric is a teacher in Nigeria. After 2 months summer vacation he was flying back to start the new semester. By the way, the jacket is his own design.”

#9JUSSI FROM FINLAND

Mustafa Çankaya – Jussi owns a tattoo studio in Helsinki. We met before his flight to Africa. He was going to have a long journey to the middle of the jungle.”

#10 PARL FROM ESTONIA

Mustafa Çankaya – “Parl is a heptathlete from Estonia. Hereby I’ve learned that “hepta” means seven in Greek. We have met before her flight Houston.”

#11 CHRISTOPHE FROM BELGIUM

Mustafa Çankaya – “His T-shirt rocks! It even made me ask Christophe to join the project.”

#12 JARGAL FROM MONGOLIA

Mustafa Çankaya – “I have met Jargal before her flight to Ulaanbaatar. She studies in Frankfurt, Germany.”

#13 SARA FROM TANZANIA

Mustafa Çankaya  – “Sara was in Barcelona for holidays. I really love the natural look in this picture.”

#14 MAY FROM LEBANON

Mustafa Çankaya – “May loves to travel. She volunteered at a refugee camp and was on the way to Egypt for work.”

#15 IDRIS FROM NIGERIA

Mustafa Çankaya – “Idris is a fashion stylist from Nigeria. You can hire him both in Nigeria and Kenya! He travels a lot and we met just before his flight to New York.”

#16 FRANKIE J FROM ENGLAND

Mustafa Çankaya – “Frankie J is one of the best house dancers on the planet. We have met before at Istanbul Street Dance Carnival. He was the judge for House Dance contest and I was a photographer there.”

#17 ED FROM KENYA

Mustafa Çankaya – “Ed has both British & Kenya nationalities. He was waiting for his flight to Nairobi country.”

#18 TAKESHI FROM JAPAN

Mustafa Çankaya – “Takeshi is an architect and fashion designer from Japan. He designed his dress which was inspired by the Arabic dress called thawb.”

#19 PARIS FROM THE UNITED STATES

Mustafa Çankaya – “Her full name is Paris London. What a beautiful name! She had lovely holidays in Greece and was heading home.”

#20 PHILIP CHANG FROM SOUTH KOREA

Mustafa Çankaya – “Chang with his friend arrived to Sweden. We met on their way back to Seoul.”

#21 SOPHIE FROM FRANCE

Mustafa Çankaya – “Sophie plays her guitar as a hobby. When I met her, she was waiting for her flight to Lebanon. She has chosen a good destination to learn Arabic!”

#22 BOUBAKAR FROM NIGER

Mustafa Çankaya – “Boubakar is the leader of the pilgrim group. I met him on his way back to Hajj.”

#23 SIMON CHENG FROM TAIWAN

Mustafa Çankaya – “Photographer Simon Cheng was documenting the refugees in Slovenia. When we met, he was heading to Northern Irak where the refugees are coming from. Hope to meet him on his way back to hear his story!”