This year the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year Awards in the UK attracted no fewer than 10,500 photographers from 70 different countries the world over. The winner of the Bring Home the Harvest category was this stunning image, Drying Okra, by the Turkish photographer Fikret Dilek Uyar. A lawyer by profession, mother of two children, as well as being an amateur photographer with numerous international acolades, Uyar enjoyed her very first international success as National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year in 2017, with an image of a whirling dervish lit by shafts of light from the dome of a ruined hamam. More than 200 awards have followed, and she is becoming a household name.
In some of her best-known work, Uyar’s keen eye captures the moving flocks of sheep and shepherds on remote smoky plateaux, and dusty action scenes of wild horses and herders on the steppes of Anatolia.
Her portraits of working, harvesting, productive Anatolian village women are serene and poetic – particularly this year’s award-winning okra-drying lady, taken in Tokat, near the Black Sea. Its composition and subtle palette of shades of yellow combining with the yellow of the okra blossoms is completely painterly.
It doesn’t take long for okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) to develop seedpods from its hibiscus-like blossoms – it happens overnight. If left on the plant, the pods will grow into vegetables in a matter of days. The lady in this picture is preserving okra (bamya in Turkish) for use in winter soups by threading blossoms with string into necklaces to hang out to dry. The petals will fall away, exposing tiny dried seedpods like beads on a necklace.
Uyar’s most recent project was very different. She spent weeks behind the lines recording the fight against Covid. For more, see her website: www.dilekuyar.com
Photograph courtesy of F Dilek Uyar and Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2021
For more on okra and how to cook it, https://reader.exacteditions.com/issues/83574/spread/110#