Street Photography in Istanbul, Turkey

Street Photography in Istanbul, Turkey

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Introduction

6 days ago I arrived in Istanbul, Turkey to film a new Street Hunt sponsored by Cosyspeed! Cosyspeed has sponsored a previous Street Hunt, the one we recorded in December 2014 in Hamburg, Germany. Visit the Street Photography in Hamburg, Germany post to read more about that or watch the Hamburg Street Hunt to get an even better experience.

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

I stayed in Istanbul for about 5 days (4 nights) and I have to say it was one of my best Street Photography trips ever. I got to see amazing new places, I was honoured to meet new people and lucky enough to make new friends. It was an experience that will be always remembered. From the first moment I arrived at my hotel until I left 5 days later, I only stopped shooting to sleep and eat. The rest of the time I was in the streets making photos, experiencing the life of Istanbul and widening my photographic horizons.

So What Is This Post About?

A Street Hunt video usually takes about 3 weeks to produce not including the preparations and the actual recording time. So, the reason I am writing this post is to give you a sneak peak into what is to come and to inform you that before the end of September the new video will be published on our Street Hunters YouTube channel. In addition, I would like to share with you experiences you can’t see on the Street Hunt video from the other days I was in the marvelous city of Istanbul. I want to talk to you about the places I got to visit, the people I met and the amazing times I had. Street Photography isn’t just art, it is a way to bring people together and to make new friends. It is a way to communicate and a way to share messages. That is what I feel like, especially after my visit to Istanbul.

Special Thanks To Cosyspeed

Cosyspeed. Sponsor of the Hamburg Street Hunt

Even though I mentioned Cosyspeed at the beginning, I would like to dedicate these few lines to this extremely friendly and reliable brand and to thank them for supporting our Street Hunt videos for the second time! We are proud to be sponsored by such an amazing team of people, especially Thomas Ludwig, the owner of the company and a person whom I can call my friend. During this Street Hunt I got to try out the NEW bag that Cosyspeed is about to release called the Streetomatic. I found the bag fantastic. It was perfect for me. Next week we will be releasing a review on the Streetomatic, written by Digby Fullam, so stay tuned. Thank you Cosyspeed!

Special Thanks To Kerem Nasipoglu

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Kerem Nasipoglu. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Kerem was right there with me from the first hour I arrived in Istanbul, every day, showing me around, explaining things to me, teaching me Turkish phrases and helping me out with any question I had about Istanbul. He was my trusted guide that is now my good friend. Kerem is a Street Photographer from Istanbul and you can see his work on his EyeEm profile and his flickr account. Teşekkürler Kerem!

Special Thanks To F.D. Walker

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Forrest Walker. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

I met Forrest a week before my trip when he was visiting my home town of Rethymno for a summer vacation and some shooting. He is an American Street Photographer from Portland, Oregon now based in Istanbul. He promised he would help with the Street Hunt in Istanbul and he was true to his words! He took us to some really interesting places and helped give this Street Hunt a special character. Forrest is as fearless a Street Photographer as they come. He will not back down until he has got the shot. I am so grateful for all of his help! You can check out Forrest’s work on his website. Thanks Forrest!

Day 1

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

I arrived on Thursday the 20th of August at the Hotel Buyuk Kaban 3 hours late. The plane I flew into Istanbul on was delayed for 3 hours as a wheel needed  replacing! So, even though I was counting on shooting Istanbul during the day on Thursday I never made it on time for the light. But let me talk to you about my day.

I will start from just before I left Greece. In the morning of that day I got a direct message on Instagram from Kerem Nasipoglu. I didn’t know Kerem before he sent me that message, but he was kind enough to offer to meet me and to show me around town. I was very pleased with Kerem’s proposal, because I always prefer to have a local show me around. It saves me a lot of trouble and time, plus I get to meet new interesting people. So, we started chatting online (switched to WhatsApp) and Kerem filled me in on all the little details I thought I needed help with. When I landed in Istanbul, I took the train to the Aksaray station. Aksaray is a part of the district of Fatih. My hotel was in Fatih. From the station I walked to my hotel and got myself ready to meet Kerem who had offered to come and get me.

About an hour or two later we met and hit the streets of amazing Istanbul. That first night was a time of exploring, knowing the city, feeling the vibe of the people and getting in tune with my surroundings. Kerem showed me a great time, we made some cool shots, enjoyed Street Photography to its fullest and concluded the night with some tasty Raki. That first night I found out that my flash was quite well accepted by the people of Istanbul and that made me happy because I do love shooting with a flash at night.

Day 2

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

The next morning Kerem and I met at around 11:00 near the big mosque next to the Arab Market. I remember how impressed I was with the market,  the smells, the colours, the tastes, the spices and the people. I felt as if I was living in an Indiana Jones film! People were shouting, bartering, laughing, selling. The place had a really strong vibe. The previous night I had told Kerem that I would like to explore possible locations for our Street Hunt that would be filmed the next day. He had come up with a plan for us to visit different areas of Istanbul so that I could better prepare myself and also gather intel to share with Thomas Ludwig of Cosyspeed that would be arriving later that evening. So, we started shooting around the Arab Market and the Mosque, worked our way up into Fatih and then after stopping for a beer, we walked to Agia Sophia. Agia Sophia is a huge construction that used to be a Byzantine church and was turned into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire. It is the No1 thing to see when in Istanbul and I just had to visit. I’m glad I made the time to see it, because I really enjoyed it. We stayed there for a little over an 1 hour and then hit the streets again, in search of more images.

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Even though it was August, the sun was going in and out, (mostly out!) and we even got caught in some light rain. But, we persisted because Street Photography has no bad weather :-). So, after Agia Sophia we visited Galata bridge which is famous for the crazy amount of fishermen that fish there. After that we had our lunch break and when we finished we continued shooting in the Galata area and the famous Istiklal avenue. While we were shooting in the streets of Galata, we got a message from French Street Photographers Yves Vernin and Safia Delta who were also in Istanbul, inviting us to the area of Balat to shoot.

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Balat was already on our list of places, so we decided to head out as soon as possible to meet them. Once there, we joined forces and hit the colourful streets of Balat. Most buildings in that area are painted in bright colours that give it a pleasant feel. People live mostly outside, not in their homes, so the streets had loads of people talking and sitting as well as kids playing. We really enjoyed shooting in that area as we did talking with both Yves and Safia who are amazing people. While we were there we received a message from Thomas notifying us that he was in town, so we grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel to pick him up. We had a quick drink and a nibble and then headed out with our cameras and flashes in hand.

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Yves Vernin. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Safia Delta. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Thomas Ludwig. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Shortly after we hit the streets, while in the Galata area, F.D. Walker joined us. As I mentioned above, I had met Forrest in Rethymno a week before when he had visited my home town for holiday. We had spent 2 days shooting then and had a blast and were planning to continue the great times in Istanbul! It was a great night! We all shot until we dropped.

Day 3

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

The big day had arrived. It was the time we had been waiting for. Time to film the Street Hunt #16 in Istanbul. Kerem, Thomas and myself met at about 10:30 in the morning in the Yeni Cami square. That is where we started filming. A couple of hours after we started, Forrest also joined us and we continued recording the Street Hunt and having a blast. I will not get into details about how the Street Hunt went, because I will be writing a post dedicated to the day of the Street Hunt to share the video with you. That post will be ready in 3 weeks time.

Spyros Papaspyropoulos and Thomas Ludwig on the Istanbul Street Hunt
Spyros Papaspyropoulos and Thomas Ludwig on the Istanbul Street Hunt. Photo by Kerem Nasipoglu
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

What I will say is that the recording went absolutely great and that by the end of the day I could happily say that I got a few keepers! Just after we finished the recording we continued our shooting in Kadikoy on the Asian part of Istanbul and headed to the Moda area to meet up with Julius Motal of the Phoblographer and his girlfriend Maria. We met at the Yer bar in the Moda area and soon after we were joined by Yves and Safia. We all had a wonderful time enjoying our favourite beverages, good food and talking about Street Photography and other interesting topics. After we all left Yer, Kerem, Forrest, Thomas and myself headed back towards the dock so that all of us staying in Fatih could grab a minibus back. While we were walking back a crazy rain started and we had to take cover in a bar. Luckily there was lots of beer in the bar! About an hour later when the rain stopped, Forrest, Thomas and myself grabbed our bus back to Fatih. Day 3 was over. So soon!

Day 4

Photo by Kerem Nasipoglu
Spyros Papaspyropoulos, Thomas Ludwig, Forrest Walker & Kerem Nasipoglu. Photo by Kerem Nasipoglu

When I woke up on Sunday I couldn’t believe how great I felt knowing that I had one more full day ahead of me for Street Shooting! After Thomas and myself had our breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to go to the Kadikoy Eminonu to get the ferry to Kadikoy to meet Kerem and Forrest. Forrest was coming in from another port. While walking to the port, halfway there, the bright sun vanished and it started raining. Luckily it was warm but even so we got quite wet. Our cameras were protected in their Camslingers so the only thing I was really worried about was myself catching a cold. We manage to catch the 11:00 ferry and headed out towards the Asian part of town one more time. When we got there it was raining cats & dogs. Kerem arrived soaking wet as did Forrest. We decided that no matter how much we all wanted to shoot, it was just not possible so we took a cab and headed straight for Kerem’s place. Kerem lives on the 12th floor of a building with a view of the sea. I felt so relaxed looking out to sea as it was raining hard. We took a small break and then got back to work, but this time we had another task. Cosyspeed produces the “Photographers Philosophy” video series and I had been invited to be interviewed for this series by Thomas. Seeing as there was nothing else we could do in the pouring rain, we decided to record the interview at Kerem’s awesome place. Once that was done, the sun came out. We grabbed our gear and headed out. We had lunch and after that continued shooting until we got back to the port. There we took the ship back to the European part of Istanbul and headed back to the hotel to say goodbye to Thomas.

Photo by Forrest Walker
Kerem Nasipoglu, Spyros Papaspyropoulos & Thomas Ludwig. Photo by Forrest Walker
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Thomas Ludwig. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

We still had a few hours to spare and we felt like shooting, so we grabbed the Metro, got off at Taksim square and headed down Istiklal avenue. We grabbed a few shots and headed to a Nargile place to have a smoke and some beers. We had the time of our life, talking about Street Photography and just laying back and relaxing. We played some flash photography games with the smoke of the Nargile and once we had our fair share of beers, we grabbed some street meat.

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Spyros Papaspyropoulos. Photo by Kerem Nasipoglu
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Kerem Nasipoglu. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Forrest Walker. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Street meat. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

After our snack we continued shooting street for hours until later we decided to start photo bombing people in the street! So, what we did was one of us would hold the camera and the others would jump behind a couple of girls or a couple and make funny faces while the one with the camera would photograph us. Ha ha ha! It was hilarious and generally we were greeted with a positive attitude, with very few exceptions. We ended the night drinking beers at the ROCK N ROLLA bar. We said our goodbyes and we each headed our own way. I had had a blast! Thanks Kerem. Thanks Forrest.

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo bombing people in Istanbul. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Kerem Nasipoglu
Spyros Papaspyropoulos and Forrest Walker photobombing people in Istanbul. Photo by Kerem Nasipoglu
Photo by Kerem Nasipoglu
Spyros Papaspyropoulos and Forrest Walker photobombing people in Istanbul. Photo by Kerem Nasipoglu
Photo by Forrest Walker
Kerem Nasipoglu. Photo by Forrest Walker
Istanbul Street Hunt
Spyros Papaspyropoulos, Forrest Walker & Kerem Nasipoglu.
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Spyros Papaspyropoulos, Forrest Walker & Kerem Nasipoglu. Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Day 5

Monday was my last day in Istanbul, but I didn’t have much time on my hands. I barely managed to wake up in time for breakfast, to get my things ready and check out of the hotel. I took the Metro and went to Taksim and from there got the Havatas shuttle to the SAW airport that is in the Asian part of Turkey. Luckily I had no hiccups during the journey and I arrived on time. Before I knew it, I was on my plane leaving the Turkish airspace. My trip to Istanbul had ended.

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Conclusion

Istanbul is just perfect for Street Photography. Personally I think every Street Photographer should visit the city and shoot there. The people are interesting, warm and many. Istanbul is one of the most crowded cities in the world with a whopping 14.16 million people as of 2014. That number is said to reach 20 million during the summer when there is more tourism. Istanbul is versatile. If you visit will see the rich, the smart, the average, the weird, the poor and the extremely poor. You will feel safe, there is nothing to fear as long as you use your common sense. It is not a city that has crime issues. Turkish food is awesome and the cost of general everyday things is very reasonable.

Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

In 3 weeks from today the Istanbul Street Hunt will be ready and you will see what an amazing time we had and how nice Istanbul is for Street Photography. So, until then…

Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!

5 COMMENTS

  1. Nice write up and I definitely had a great time! Can’t wait for the video, it should be good.

    *I would like to note I was under the influence of Spyros in some of these photos 🙂

  2. Nice, interesting and funny Spyros, you did not use your “You are very pretty” to the Niqab women, did you? ;-)). Awaiting the video!!!!

    • Hello Jordi!

      No, I didn’t use my “you are beautiful” line on the ladies in Turkey 😛 I wasn’t sure how they would respond. The video will be ready in 3 weeks. I have already post processed half of the Street Hunt shots. I estimate I have another 2 days of post processing and then I will get into the video editing. I will keep you all posted.

      Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!

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