Maryam Şahinyan: The First Female Photographer of Turkey
March 24, 2017
Born at Sahinyan Konagi, now known as the Camli Kösk in the city center of Sivas, Turkey. Maryam Şahinyan (Մարիամ Շահինեան 1911 – 1996) was a famed photographer who is considered the first woman studio photographer in Turkey.
Maryam’s grandfather, Agop Şahinyan Pasa, was the representative of Sivas in the first Ottoman Parliament established in 1877. After the Armenian Genocide of 1915, at the age of 4, Maryam Şahinyan escaped to Istanbul via Samsun leaving behind many assets such as the Sahinyan Konak, 5 flour mills, and large amounts of real estate. The family settled in the Harbiye district of Istanbul and soon adjusted to a new lifestyle under the Republican Era of the Turkish Republic. She attended the local Armenian school Esayan.
Maryam Şahinyan’s father Mihran was avidly interested in photography. In 1933 he began to work for the Galatasaray Photography Studio in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul. In 1936, Maryam’s mother Dikranuhi died a sudden death and left the family financially strained. Due to these circumstances, Maryam was forced to dropout of the French School Sainte-Pulchérie she attended in order to help her father out in the studio. By 1937, in order to assist the financial burden of the family, she started managing the studio independently. Maryam Şhաinyan managed the studio until 1985. She died at her home on Hanimefendi Sokak in Sisli in 1996 and is buried in Sisli Armenian Cemetery. Şahinyan left behind a photographic archive made up of approximately 200,000 images.
Maryam Şahinyan’s work focuses mostly on portrait, of subjects ranging from transgender people and members of disenfranchised religious and ethnic groups to wealthy women, identical twins, babies and long-haired beauties.
Here is some of her amazing work.