Can Ahtam

Go to events and shake hands. Carry your business card around and feel free to share with others. Share without the expectation that they will have work ready for you. Just share for the pure intent to connect and make a solid impression.


Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Ahtam has come a long way from those first snapshots with a disposable camera, a gift from his mother. With a following on Instagram that currently exceeds 200,000, Ahtam has garnered critical acclaim and social media “influencer” status for his distinctive composition and perspective. His Instagram profile (@canahtam), is full of lush landscapes, bird’s-eye-view cityscapes, and eye-catching portraits.

“I was fortunate enough to travel a lot with my family to countries around Europe and Africa, and of course, the Americas,” says Ahtam. “That gave me a different understanding of the world we live in and unintentionally, you compare your culture to others and try to seek out the differences and different understandings. That drew me into documenting the differences I observed visually by photography.”

Though his parents offered plenty of opportunities to develop a wide array of hobbies, the only interest that ever stuck was photography.

“I was never keen on collecting stamps or old money, or anything for that matter,” says Ahtam. “But photography is a collection for me. It’s more to pursue and learn more about different people and places. Photography is a broader hobby than just photographs themselves.”

Where did the idea for your company come from?

Through the demand I have been receiving from various brands and individuals. My work was recognized and asked for by brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Sperry, and Mashable.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I go to my full-time work and do my daily duties within my role as Social Media and Community Manager at Junk Food Clothing. During my off times, I coordinate and organize photo events as well as work on my booked photo shoots. It really bothers me to just sit at home and do nothing.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Just acting on it and trying your best to see how that idea will evolve into something else. No idea is perfect to begin with. By practice and trial and error you achieve success and perfection. Same goes with my photo shoots with individuals. The first two poses and shots don’t really feel right until you actually click in your style with them and they understand your vision.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I really enjoy seeing different perspectives from others. Whether someone is a professional photographer or just an amateur enthusiast; it makes me really happy to see something that they see but I don’t until I am shown and inspired by.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am a social butterfly. I need to be meeting and connecting with people. Los Angeles is a perfect location for that because it is bursting with talent and connections.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be afraid. Take the chance.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I am called a “Negative Nancy” at times that I don’t believe in something from the beginning and most of the times I happen to be right about my gut feeling.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Go to events and shake hands. Carry your business card around and feel free to share with others. Share without the expectation that they will have work ready for you. Just share for the pure intent to connect and make a solid impression.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Use of social media definitely helped me and my business to grow, especially when you change locations across the globe.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

It is extremely challenging to believe in your business that doesn’t flourish quickly. Patience is the key which I tend to lack. Thank God, I have supportive friends and family to back me up and keep my sanity and patience with me.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Hmmmm… one thing as a photographer I happen to struggle a lot on is carry equipment. From reflectors to diffusers, fill in flashes and various lenses; it is definitely a juggle. It would be very efficient for a product that acts as a folding changing tent, reflector, diffuser as it is standing.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

On my simple 50mm lens. Although on a cheaper scale, it is still a fun lens to shoot with.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are must haves for a photographer. From basic edits of light to manipulations on skin and color, these tools have been life savers for me.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Getting to Yes is a crucial book for those who would like to learn more about negotiating.

What is your favorite quote?

Saying “I must do something” is better than “Something must be done.” – Anon

Key Learnings:

  • It is important to take the risk and not be afraid to jump to your passion.
  • Connecting and networking are essential to filling your social circle and creating chances
  • Be prepared for your business and invest both time and capital.