An airport employee has spent almost a year photographing people from all over the world, and the results are stunning

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaTina from Kenya.
  • Mustafa Çankaya is a photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey, who works at the Atatürk Airport by day.
  • Inspired by the thousands of faces that pass him by every day, Çankaya began photographing travellers in March 2018.
  • In just a few short months, his project – called “100 Faces 100 Countries” – has started to accumulate followers on Instagram for its honest and raw portraiture.
  • So far, it features 117 portraits of airport travellers from 77 different countries. Çankaya’s goal is to reach 100 countries.

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 travellers from around the world. He decided to start photographing travellers 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 travellers 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.


Çankaya’s passion project began in March 2018.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaMiha from Slovenia.

“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.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaMiha from Slovenia.

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.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaShayma from Kuwait.

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


It was Tina’s hair that stood out to Çankaya.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaTina from Kenya.

“Tina’s hair style 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.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaShayma from Kuwait.

Jargal from Mongolia has this portrait, for instance…

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaJargal from Mongolia.

…followed by a shot of her reading.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaJargal from Mongolia.

Çankaya says he currently has 117 portraits from 77 countries.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaBenson from Bermuda.

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

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaTrad from Syria.

He’s got quite a start already, with participants from Kenya…

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaNoam from Kenya.

…to Denmark…

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaMartin from Denmark.

…and all the way to Russia.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaRobert from Russia.

“Almost every day I walk around the transit section of the airport trying to find the right face,” Çankaya writes.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaAgboola from Nigeria.

He was drawn to Nicole from Ukraine because of her tattoos.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaNicole from Ukraine.

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


And Wendie from the USA, perhaps, for her smile.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaWendie from the USA.

“Just asked Wendie to make a serious face,” Çankaya writes. “This is the result.”


Çankaya asks only for his subjects’ first name and where they’re from, but gets to know them pretty well.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaSimon from the Netherlands.

On Instagram, he often writes about where his participants are headed to, or if he has photographed someone else from the same country before.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaSol from Israel.

Eric was his first subject from the Ivory Coast.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaEric from the Ivory Coast.

“We couldn’t speak the same language, but it was easy to understand each other,” Çankaya writes about Eric.


Beatrice from Sweden was headed to Uganda.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaBeatrice from Sweden.

And Khadija arrived in Istanbul from Casablanca, Morocco.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaKhadija from Morocco.

Emmanuel is the second person from Ghana featured in “100 Faces 100 Countries.”

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaEmmanuel from Ghana.

Participants have to be willing to be photographed, of course — and if they say no at first, like Gerd from Denmark, they tend to come around.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaGerd from Denmark.

“Gerd denied me at our first meeting,” Çankaya writes. “But she had enough time to think about it in Niger, and she liked the idea how the project connects the world. We met again on her way back to Denmark and had enough time for chat and the shoot.”


That is, after all, the purpose of Çankaya’s project: to connect the world.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaIbrahim Zethy from Rwanda.

And the photographer — and his subjects — certainly have a fun time doing it.

Courtesy Mustafa CankayaIbrahim Zethy from Rwanda.

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