Last winter I travelled to Istanbul to capture the city on 35mm film. I have a very minimalistic approach in my photography so as usual I only brought my Leica M6, 35mm Summicron and tons of Kodak Portra 400 film.
I absolutely fell in love with the city and hope I could capture some of the vibe that’s omnipresent there.
I stayed with a friend who lives in Kadıköy – a neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul. Looking at it on a map you might think this is inconvenient as most of the popular sights are on the European side. But looking back staying there was great.
Instead of stepping out the door right into the bustling city I would start my day with a beautiful ferry ride across the Bosporus drinking tea, gazing over the sea and appreciating the beauty of the city in front of me.
From the point you step off the ferry the best thing you can do is pick a neighborhood and get lost. This is my default process for any city but I felt it works specifically well in Istanbul. Although it’s such an enormous city it also feels incredibly dense.
Small alleyways, side roads, and backyards are waiting to be explored everywhere.
What fascinated me the most is how calm and peaceful the city and its residents are despite the huge dimensions. With 14 million residents, the city can get hectic at times but you will never have to look far for a cozy place to warm up with a cup of tea and take a break.
Which brings me to another important aspect – food! Like most large cities in the word Istanbul has more culinary treasures to offer than I can even begin to list here. What’s different in Istanbul though is that trying them all won’t break your bank account. To the average tourist food is very cheap in Istanbul. Or at least it can be.
It’s cliché to say this and it everybody says it about every travel destination but it still must be mentioned: The people are great! They really are. Even when my lack of Turkish language skills made communication difficult people never hesitated to go out of their way to help me.
Without getting too much into the politics or the sad news about terror that has struck the country in recent times I think it’s safe to say that a lot has happened in Turkey and Istanbul since I was there last year.
So I will probably return soon to continue this as a project and see if can document more of the of the city and maybe beyond Istanbul too.
Like most of my work the series sits between the genres of street photography, travel photography and sometimes elements of documentary photography.
If you’d like to see more of my work you can follow me here.
~ Philipp Wortmann
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