Instagram turns waterspout holiday snap into award-winning photo

Mehmet Gökyiğit's 2002 image has taken Instagram by storm.

Taken in 2002, but causing a storm in 2015. Photo by Mehmet Gökyiğit

Taken in 2002, but causing a storm in 2015. Photo: Courtesy of Mehmet Gökyiğit

Instagram has turned this waterspout holiday snap into an award-winning photo. Back in September 2002, Cypriot photographer Mehmet Gökyiğit was holidaying with friends in Turkey. They were visiting the Alanya Castle, located on the Mediterranean coast in the south of the country, when Gökyiğit looked out to sea.

"Suddenly I realized the weather changed and I was lucky to have my digital camera with me," Gökyiğit tells GrindTV. "A whirlwind or waterspout started to form with an extension striking into the sea. I knew it was definitely something special because such natural events don’t occur every day, and I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time."

By the time he shot the first image, two other waterspouts had formed next to the original and Gökyiğit snapped away. "For those who like the technical aspects of photography, the photo was taken with [a] Fuji Finepix 2800 zoom camera at 14mm, f 4.8, 1/180 sec and ISO:100," says Gökyiğit.

At first Meh Gökyiğit met just showed his friends and family, this being before the existence of photo-sharing platforms like Flickr, Facebook or Instagram. "Some of my friends who saw the photo first thought it was created in Photoshop," laughs Gökyiğit, "but after seeing the other photos, they were totally convinced that it was real."

Evidence of the formation of the three whirlpools. Photo by Mehmet Gökyiğit

Evidence of the formation of the three whirlpools. Photo: Courtesy of Mehmet Gökyiğit

However, for more than a decade the photo remained on his hard drive, just one of thousands of holiday snaps in a photographer's collection. Two summers ago, though, Gökyiğit's girlfriend, Ebru Dervis (@ebrudervis), posted the image on Instagram and the reaction was incredible.

"After Ebru published it on Instagram, it quickly became very popular," says Gökyiğit. "I then started sending it to various photography exhibitions under the title 'Whirlwind at Sea' and it has won many international awards over the last two years."

It is incredible that the image lay unseen for so many years, but at least now it is getting the recognition it deserves. "Although many years have passed since I took the image, right now it is one of the most popular photos on Instagram," says Gökyiğit. "It shows no matter how old a photo is, it can still grab people's attention."

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