Joie de vivre.

From French, the words translate to “joy of living,” a phrase that evokes the carefree delight of being alive. It’s a saying that photographer Sezgi Olgaç uses when describing her photography.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a very upbeat or optimistic person,” she says. “But the photographs I take usually turn out to be fresh and bright scenes.”

It’s not uncommon to hear that her images put smiles people’s faces.

Growing up, Sezgi always read and collected monthly photography magazines. Then, when she was in high school, she found a neglected analog camera in her house and began experimenting.

She’s loved photography ever since.

Sezgi’s photography captures city life from various perspectives. She seeks out the nuances, the quirky and unique corners of the places she visits instead of the postcard-perfect landscapes. She especially loves any subject matter related to architecture — doors, facades, structures, storefronts — or anything that evokes a sense of nostalgia. Often, she’s drawn to the relationship between a city and its people.

Though she was born in a town on the northern coast of Turkey, Sezgi calls the country’s largest city, Istanbul, home. She’s lived there for more than 20 years, and worked at an advertising agency for a decade before deciding to redirect her career.

Suddenly, Sezgi had the freedom to explore Istanbul during the day, when she’d been previously relegated to an office. She loved wandering the streets in the daylight and discovering her home-city in a completely new way.

After two or three years of photographing Istanbul, Sezgi decided it was time to venture out to other parts of the world.

She loves Cuba for its charm and overwhelming sense of nostalgia, Lisbon for its light and pastel hues, and Mauritius for its unique atmosphere and setting.

Traveling while photographing is the best way to learn about a new place, or at least that’s how Sezgi feels. She enjoys the preparation for each of her trips — the planning, the research, creating her own personal map of each new destination.

Photography pushes her to stay curious and discover more about the world.

“I love that feeling when you see something for the first time with fresh eyes,” Sezgi says.  “A beautiful city, a charming cityscape, a unique piece of architecture — photography keeps me hungry for those kind of moments.”

When asked what makes her photos so unique, Sezgi’s answer is unexpected.

“Probably because I don’t think while I’m taking photos,” she admits. “I usually try to capture moments that make my heart beat faster: anything that makes my inner voice say, ‘Yes!’”

She lets her intuition guide her photography, and she lets her photography guide her travels.

It’s possible that this very practice is what allows Sezgi to capture that feeling of joie de vivre in her images. Her lifestyle, after all, is all about the carefree delight of being alive.