Istanbul – how do I begin to describe the love-hate relationship I have with this city? As a city of contrasts, it’s almost expected that one’s own emotions towards the city would also be that of contrasts.
Following 10 days of intensive photojournalism (for a workshop) there last year on the Asian side of this metropolis, I got fully endrenched and exposed to both the beauty and ugliness, the conservatism and the rebellion, the welcomes and the rejections, but most of all I was on a mission to get to know the true side of Istanbul – the one the touristic guides leave out.
I left the city that year disenchanted, not knowing if I would return (or want to return) again in the near future. However, something keeps bringing me back (and the open visa between Turkey and Lebanon certainly helps). Having most recently visited Istanbul with my beloved BSP group felt like re-visiting an old friend you’d had a clash with. Would there still be tension? Could the friendship still be saved after some time apart?
Letting by-gones be by-gones, the charm of this city in the end won me over – like it has many others before me. After four days in Istanbul, I left wanting to spend more time in the bohemian area around the Galata tower, exploring the friendly vegetable markets on the Asian side, serenading through the tucked-away art galleries blossoming at Tunel square and finding the perfect spot that serves an Iskender plate that’s nearly as good as the one I’d had in Mersin earlier that year.
You can get to know a whole other dimension of a city when you’re there as a street photographer. You’re not quite a tourist, but through your camera, you get to know the city’s people, insight into their lives and habits, and if you’re lucky, capture genuine emotions that reveal so much more. For a few days, you’re on a photographic mission to learn, discover and find what makes this city “tick”.
I’m very proud of all the powerful shots our group captured while in Istanbul, with each photographer finding their own niche within this city and representing it through their unique lens. If we achieved this much in only four days, what does the future international photo-trip hold for us? I can only begin to imagine..
The following photographs where taken in the Laleli area of Istanbul (on the European side), a commercial fashion distribution center where mannequins and humans live side-by-side, taking on a life of their own..