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.