Ergun Çağatay was born in Izmir, Turkey, in 1937. After graduation from Robert College in Istanbul, he entered the Faculty of Law at Istanbul University. Deciding against practicing law, he started his career as a copywriter in an advertising agency.
A short time later, in response to an advertisement, he embarked on the journalism career that would last a lifetime. At the age of 30, he added photography to his repertoire and worked as a photojournalist for the Associated Press and later the renowned Gamma Agency in Paris. His articles and photographs have been published in most of the major international magazines. In 1981 and 1982, he worked for Time/Life in New York City. and made the cover of LIFE magazine with his story on liver transplant
A near-fatal victim of a terrorist bomb at Paris's Orly Airport in 1983, Çağatay spent the next five years in and out of burn centers, operating rooms, and hospitals. Upon returning to his professional career in 1988, he completed the first extensive photographic essay on old manuscripts in the Topkapı Museum Library in Istanbul. The essay appeared in leading magazines in France, the United States, Spain, and Japan.
Çağatay began working in Central Asia in 1993, developing the framework for the present volume on Turkic Peoples. He has traveled more than 150,000 kilometers in the region and taken more than 30,000 photographs. Following compilation of an extensive photo exhibition entitled Once Upon a Time in Central Asia, he published a large-format book under the same title in 1996.
Once Upon a Time in Central Asia has been exhibited in the following locations:
- State Painting and Sculpture Museum , Istanbul , Turkey , February 1966
- Union of Painters, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, May 1966
- State Fine Arts Museum, Almaty, Kazakhstan, June 1996
- Memorial Museum, Austin, Texas, February/March 1997
- Kashiwazaki / Niigata, Japan, October 1997 - January 1998
- Gustavianum Museum, Uppsala, Sweden, November 1999
Çağatay, founder of Tetragon A.Ş., has also coproduced a two-hour documentary video on the ecological disaster of the Aral Sea. An abbreviated (30 minutes) version of the documentary won first prize among 98 entries from various nations in the 2000 Antalya Short Film Festival.
His book project "Turkic Speaking Peoples" was published by Prestel Verlag / Munich with the sponsorship of Prince Claus Fund of Netherlands. The book came out to market in the fall of 2006 and have been sold in Europe/USA and Turkey. In short time the book was sold out and will be reprinted as second edition as well as in Turkish and French languages in Turkey and in France.