Legendary Local Photographer Died

Mustafa Diana - photographer
[Mustafa Diana – Photographer]
Mustafa Diana (Photo Diana), a legendary figure in Turkish Cypriot photography, has passed away at the age of 102. Born as Mustafa Mehmet Salih Okay on August 20, 1922, in Nicosia, he began his journey into photography as a teenager. His brother-in-law, Fevzi Akarsu, a prominent photographer, introduced him to the craft when he was 14-15 years old. Despite his father’s wishes for him to become a police officer, Mustafa chose photography, embarking on a career that would define his life, Kibris Postasi reports.

A significant turning point came when Mustafa met Diana Samuel, an Israeli woman who mistook him for her lost son due to their striking resemblance. At 18, he traveled to Israel, working in Diana Samuel’s photography studio. Over four years, he honed his skills and became a master photographer. Returning to Cyprus, he maintained a close relationship with Diana Samuel, whom he affectionately called “mother,” and established his own photography studios with her support. His talent quickly made him renowned among both Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

Mustafa Diana’s fame soared when he triumphed over his Greek, Armenian, and British competitors in a 1949 photography contest organised by the British-founded Cyprus Photographers Association. This victory cemented his reputation, and he became a household name. Embracing new techniques and products in the photography industry, he gained widespread popularity, opening studios across the island to meet high demand.

Even political leaders sought his services. Turkish Cypriot leaders like Doctor Küçük and Rauf Denktaş, as well as Greek leader Makarios, preferred Mustafa Diana for their portraits. In an interview with the Turkish Agency Cyprus (TAK) on his 100th birthday, he recalled his experiences with these leaders, sharing fond memories of photographing them and even teaching Denktaş photography.

Mustafa Diana - Photos
[Mustafa Diana – Photography Exhibition]
In 1952, Mustafa married Melek Hanım, with whom he had three children—Mehmet, Koncegül, and Derviş—and six grandchildren. In 1972, he established the first colour photography laboratory among Turkish Cypriots, further solidifying his pioneering status in the field.

Mustafa Diana’s life was also marked by a unique incident involving the Green Line, the demarcation between Turkish and Greek Cypriot territories. At Denktaş’s suggestion, he purchased a house in the buffer zone, subtly shifting the boundary in favor of Turkish Cypriots. He continued to reside in this house for many years after the 1974 Peace Operation, becoming one of the few civilians living in the buffer zone.

Mustafa Diana’s passion for photography endured throughout his life. In his TAK interview, he expressed that if given another chance at life, he would still choose to be a photographer. His dedication to the craft lasted until his final days.

Mustafa Diana will be laid to rest in Nicosia Cemetery on June 8, 2024, following the noon prayer. His legacy as a pioneering and passionate photographer will be remembered by many.

Kibris Postasi

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