Tag Archives: Istanbul

Gezi Park

Several months ago I published a mini series of images that was inspired by the summer riots of Istanbul- resISTANBUL.  Just over a year after I wanted to share the actual images from the numerous days that thousands of people protested not only to save a small green space in the centre of urban Istanbul, but also to protect the voices of millions against a government that is getting more corrupt each day.

The images were taken with a digital camera and then converted to film to allow a complete tactile control of the printing process.  As the actual voice of a protestor is stronger than a digital signature or “like” on a social media platform, processing with analog techniques felt absolutely right for this body of work.

Ara Güler: The Man Who Shot Istanbul

The first time I came across the name Ara, literally meaning in-between, was in Istanbul.  Ara Cafe sits snuggled between a busy bustling high street and a quiet narrow street meandering towards the Bosphorus.  Little did I know that this exact building was where the world renowned photographer  Ara Güler grew up.

Ara was born in Istanbul to an Armenian family in 1928.  Growing up, his goal was to become a film director or a script writer.  Although he became Turkey’s most celebrated photographer, he did reach his goal in 1975 when he directed the surrealistic 18mm movie, End of a Hero.  He started working for newspapers as a photographer and as he became more known, in 1953 he met one of the founding members of Magnum Photos, Henri Cartier-Bresson.  This meeting became the pivotal moment in his career as he became the Turkish representative to the photographic agency.

His list of awards is endless and it includes Master of Leica in 1962 as well as being listed as the Top 7 Photographers of the World by The Photography Annual Anthology.  He is most renowned for his Lost Istanbul work where he stays faithful to his photojournalistic roots but this did not stop him from travelling the world and photographing people as famous as Sofia Loren, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.

No matter which part of the world he may be photographing, people always feature in his works.  Whilst some of these maybe joyful or playful, Güler often portrays social issues.  He does not shy away from showing the uncomfortable or the sinister.  His Leica camera has captured Istanbul through decades of change and it would not be inaccurate to say that these hold an archival value.  The feeling of melancholia that resonates throughout his Lost Istanbul work could be traced to the photographer’s frustration with the loss of Istanbul’s aesthetic.  As the migration from Anatolian towns continue, the concrete jungle expands.  He states that the younger generation that live in the city are not aware the poetic or romantic aspect of the city.

He uses the banks of the Bosphorus often, the stretch of sea that separates Asia Minor from Europe, to use as a metaphor for separation.  The sea is what distances us from others as well as ourselves.  In his photograph Saying good-bye on the Galata quay taken in 1955,a woman with a headscarf is reaching towards the man inside the boat.  The framing makes use of the geometric shapes formed by the horizontal lines along the metallic ship and the vertical as well as slanting lines formed by ropes attaching to a pulley.  I initially assumed that the man and the woman were a couple and they were reaching out to each other to say good-bye one last time until the unforeseeable future.  Due to the fact that the ship is white in colour, it is not very obvious that the man is reaching towards a folded piece of paper that the woman is passing to him.  This changes the story of the photograph as we are left wondering what is written in that folded piece of paper.  Is it her feelings that she could not share with him?  Is it a letter from someone that he refuses to see in person or someone that just couldn’t be there?

Güler states that photography is not art although he accepts that masters such as Ansel Adams or Henri Cartier-Bresson have visual education, this does not make them artists.  He believes “photography is reality above all else” and that it is his job to record what he sees.  To him, the dark room tricks are not acceptable as he hates the idea of becoming an artist.

Güler has a list of qualities to describe what makes a good photographer; “A photographer must be well equipped…  They need to know painting, know music, understand theatre, read a lot, decide in an instant and all in all be very intelligent”.  Whilst I would strive to possess all these qualities he describes, I do see myself as an artist and as a photographer I feel that I have to show my own reality.  Perhaps all artists are journalists since they share their version of ideas, concepts and occurrences.

Balat House

I had memories. S/He had memories. We had memories. They had memories. Those were just fleeting moments that are imprinted on our minds and etched onto the landscape where it occurred like the remains of a rusty nail holding up the portrait of a lost loved one.

Balat is a neighbourhood of Istanbul that remains unchanged and not developed for many decades. Visiting this place is almost like time travelling and watching the memories of those around you that you are yet to meet, yet to talk and yet to touch.

Void of the 5 senses, you can feel the essence of this place through your aura and through your physical cage. You can feel their love, their pain and their loss. You can imagine their dreams, fears and desires.


Destruction, air pollution and government policies… Where do you stand or are you taking a nap?

European Environment Agency (EEA) has announced in their Air Quality in Europe 2013 report that 90% of the urban population within the European Union is exposed to one of the most damaging air pollutants and that the levels in which that damage can be caused to our health is lower than once it was believed.

Turkey is still not in the EU, however the finding of the EEA’s report still applies to the country I was born in.  Furthermore in 2012 The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded that the level of air pollution was one of the highest out of the 36 countries that took part in the Better Life Index.

What does not make sense is the fact that compulsory “environmental impact assessments” for new projects had their rules changed.  For instance, an area that would have been defined as a forest previously is now considered “not forest” or it can be classified under the new heading of forests that won’t benefit from protection.

Environmental policies were one of the reasons why thousands of people were protesting during the Istanbul Riots in May/June 2013 including myself.  The GP-5 Soviet Russian Gas Mask in these photographs was not the one I have used to protect my respiratory system but an eBay purchase to be used in this photo-shoot inspired by the events.

And now you sleep…

Mathias Sleeping

You will sleep but forever be awake.

I send you away, far away from me but this is the only way.

Like a child telling their mother lies, I can see right through them.

I can see that you changed your mind.

The painting you did on that water surface

can’t hide what you painted first.

Don’t be afraid, as there won’t be anything worse than what you can imagine.

Close your eyes.

Bitter- sweet slumber
















Bitter slumber

Bitter slumber

Hard hat yellows

Hard hat yellows

Agent provocateur

Agent provocateur

No parking

No parking