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

Tina from Kenya.

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Tina from Kenya.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

  • 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 travelers 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 travelers 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 travelers from around the world. He decided to start photographing travelers 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 travelers 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.

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Miha from Slovenia.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

“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.

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Miha from Slovenia.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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.

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Shayma from Kuwait.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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.

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Tina from Kenya.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

“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.

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Shayma from Kuwait.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

Jargal from Mongolia has this portrait, for instance…

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Jargal from Mongolia.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

…followed by a shot of her reading.

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Jargal from Mongolia.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

Çankaya says he currently has 117 portraits from 77 countries.

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Benson from Bermuda.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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

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Trad from Syria.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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

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Noam from Kenya.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

…to Denmark…

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Martin from Denmark.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

…and all the way to Russia.

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Robert from Russia.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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

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Agboola from Nigeria.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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

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Nicole from Ukraine.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

“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.

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Wendie from the USA.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

“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.

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Simon from the Netherlands.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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

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Sol from Israel.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

Eric was his first subject from the Ivory Coast.

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Eric from the Ivory Coast.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

“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.

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Beatrice from Sweden.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

And Khadija arrived in Istanbul from Casablanca, Morocco.

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Khadija from Morocco.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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

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Emmanuel from Ghana.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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.

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Gerd from Denmark.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

“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.

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Ibrahim Zethy from Rwanda.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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

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Ibrahim Zethy from Rwanda.
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Courtesy Mustafa Cankaya

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