‘The Photographer’ by David Choi, with Kanat Beisekeyev
by David Choi
I used to run into Kanat Beisekeyev, on my weekend visits to Soho. We were acquainted before, but we were practically strangers during our first few encounters. I remember I would see an interesting character on the streets, and when I slowly proceeded to approach my subject; Kan was already in front of the dude, pointing his God damn Canon to the dude’s face. After a month or two of running into each other and eating halal food on the streets, we quickly became great friends.
From what I hear, Kan moved from his birthplace, Karaganda, to Almaty when he was 8 years old. And as a wee little child, Kan would grow up kicking the soccer ball around with his friends, and seldom skip classes to hang out with cute Kazakh girls. Upon his parents’ wishes, he entered the University of International Business in Almaty to become an engineer. ‘Photography’, he explains, was ‘strictly a hobby’ at first. However, he soon found himself working in the Kazakhstani TV industry as a backstage photographer to pay for his tuition.
Going against his parents’ intended future for him, Kan, made a decision to switch his major to journalism. While still in school, he entered famed, Kazakhstani online magazine, Vox Populi, as a junior photographer. There, he would shoot projects accordingly for the magazine editors and learn the craft behind photography from veterans in the industry. Young Kan was learning at a fast pace; much faster than your average, and he didn’t want to stop.
Kan applied for a chance at scholarship through SABY, a charity fund in Kazakhstan, to study abroad in New York. He succeeded; and in New York, Kan started shooting his own projects for Vox Populi, while juggling through New York Film Academy’s Photography program. His documentary projects for Vox Populi, ‘Kazakh Adoptees‘, ‘Kazakhstan in America‘, and ‘Diana and Kristin‘, helped him gain popularity and mainstream viewers back home in Kazakhstan. By the time the prodigal returned to his motherland, he had already become a household name in the Kazakhstani photo journalism world.
Back in Almaty, Kan enjoyed eating homemade plov and drinking delicious berry drinks, all the while working on big commercial projects. He had been a regular shooter for the Kazakstani film and TV industry, as well as shooting important parliament members of the Kazakhstani Government. Not forgetting his roots in journalism, Kan continued his project, ‘Kazakh Adoptees‘, in Kazakhstan, and started a photo documentary series on children with autism called ‘Fly Away‘, which was held in an exhibition in Almaty.
‘Fearless’ is a good way to describe Kan as a photographer. I believe it was fine art photographer, Dawit Petros, that first coined the term for him; and anyone that knows Kan would instantly agree. The kid from Kazakhstan is truly fearless. I have another recollection in Harlem, 2014, when Kan went up to a couple of guys and straight up started shooting them. Needless to say, they were super pissed off, and started chasing the poor photographer around the block until the police came to the rescue. Crazy as it might all sound, this is the world of a photographer, and still to this day, I see this bastard stealing my subjects away from me in Soho.
Hey young world, Kan’s back in New York City, and he’s currently working on a new documentary project!
‘a bonus shot for baby kan’