Fishing at the Golden Horn, Istanbul

One of my recent business trips led me to the storied city Istanbul, the jewel of Turkey and Europe’s Capital of Culture for 2010. When visiting exotic places of great historical interest like Istanbul, I usually plan to stay a little longer to devote some extra time to walking around and exploring. Although this was my very first visit to this uniquely beautiful city I could only allow myself about half a day of wandering, so I headed straight to Galatabridge, one of the most historical areas of Istanbul. Tourist tours call it the passageway to the Old City of Constantinople. The bridge crosses the Golden Horn, which, according to Wikipedia is “a historic inlet of the Bosphorus dividing the city of Istanbul and forming the natural harbor that has sheltered Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and other ships for thousands of years.”

As always, my primary interest is photography and capturing authentic images of life as it happens. At the bridge I found lots of people fishing. It was a Sunday afternoon, and where I come from, this is when folks tend to travel to lakes and go fishing just for fun. In Istanbul however, fishing from Galatabridge is an everyday activity, and a large percentage of the people I observed were fishing to make a living, or at least to serve dinner to their families. Watching the fishing scene there provided me with some really good photo opportunities—just look at the profusion of fishing rods hanging over the bridge in the photos!

While tourists amble about, take boat trips on the Bosporus, visit mosques, or have dinner in fine restaurants, right below the bridge the Turkish people display their time-honored skills as merchants. Fruits, spices, fish, or getting your shoes polished are just some of typical goods and services being offered right on the street. The market atmosphere feels like a bazaar, but to the locals it’s just a busy place to be. It might sound slightly biased, but it seems to me that Turkish people are particularly adept at being merchants—not too surprising since they’ve been doing it for thousands of years.

I found out on that sunny afternoon that taking photographs of strangers in Turkey can be a challenge. Every culture has its own way of accepting or not accepting photographers. Some folks are just shy; others simply don’t like being photographed, especially by tourists, for religious or cultural reasons. You need to be careful. However very often, people just didn’t seem to notice me pointing my camera at them. Looking at my shots you can see some people who look very natural, un-posed and completely unconcerned, because they never noticed me taking their picture. My Leica M9 was certainly a great asset in capturing such images—it’s virtually silent and small enough to be inconspicuous. Still, the image quality you get out of it is truly amazing.

Galatabridge is just a tiny part of the great city of Istanbul. There is so much more to see, and such an incredible variety of intriguing sights. I would love to go back and explore other parts of the ancient town, for example the Asian section of Istanbul, or to get more deeply involved in documenting the various religious cultures. Having shot with SLRs and DSLRs my whole life, I really appreciate the discreet size and weight of the Leica M9- it’s a superb camera that you can always take with you without ever having to carry too much.

This is a guest blog post by Markus Maschik.  After family and friends, photography has always been his greatest passion. He is not a pro photographer, but enjoys expressing visual ideas creatively and capturing special moments using his Leica M9. Markus is always equally delighted to return home to Munich, Germany after traveling and go through his shots and pick the ones  that stand our from the rest. To find out more about Markus and surf through more of his photographs, please visit his blog www.smarkstracks.com.

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5 comments

  • First of all welcome to Istanbul Markus. I hope you would come again 🙂

    As a street photographer like you I agree with you but want to add one comment about behavior of people against being photographed. Nowadays taking street photographs is not easy as old times because of the popularity of photography after the digital era! Now people see many many cameras pointed to them and this makes photography an ordinary part of daily life! In old times there were small group of people (even in the tourists) who taking photos and this was a strange activity for people who photographed but now being photographed a little bit irritates them! I assume that they are not professional models or stars and wants to continue their ordinary life. They also do not want to see their photos shared on photography sites or even on newspapers forever.

    If you shoot video not photographs, they would probably be in the frame and ask that on which tv channel this movie will be published. Tv movies are like something written on water and probably would not be seen again but photography is stronger than movies because of their documentary effect and durability for more and more years…

    Warm regards,

    Serdal

  • Hi Serdal,

    thanks for your comments, very much appreciated. I love your town Istanbul and definitely plan to go back again.

    Your comments about street photography are so true. I think it is also the art of a street photographer to capture moments in people’s life, that lets them look good in a way they would accept it. We always have to consider this when we post photos of other people. My comments about this fact were not so specific about Istanbul or Turkey, but street photography in general. You have to respect people’s life and their willingness to be on a photograph or on a website.

    Hope you like my photos, greetings to Istanbul!

    Markus

  • Hi There,

    I’m currently on the road, & have a Leica X1 back at the house. Its my first Leica & was wondering what type of camera you took these shots with. And if you know or in your opinion is the X1 really worth the $ I spent on it. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but am really looking forward to it.

    I also plan to travel to Turkey & Nepal in April 2011. Nice work & thanks!

  • Hi, just saw your post and assume my response comes a bit late, anyway: I have used a Leica M9, and I am quite happy with it. I have never used an X1, so can’t really comment on it. For street photography 35 or 50mm lenses are recommended, so the X1 should be good to go.

    Let me know if you got it and if you are happy with it,

    all the best,

    Markus

  • magnificent put up, very informative. I’m wondering why the other specialists of this sector don’t notice this. You should proceed your writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

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