Street stories in Istanbul

After more than a month home from my trip to Europe, i’m seeing some of the photographs i captured with fresh eyes. I’m surprised how much difference a month makes. Photographs that i ignored in earlier run throughs are looking far more interesting now. One good reason why you should never delete a photograph hastily — there is a reason why you took the shot in the first place: sometimes it takes a little bit of time for your conscious mind to realize what that reason is.

Processing large volumes of photographs like this is not unlike panning for gold. You shake, you sift, you pour water on it, then sift through some more. You even keep the run offs, and sift through them some more later, just to be sure before throwing the chaff away.

Sometimes, you get lucky. The more you pan through the same pile, the better the results become. Doesn’t always happen that way; makes you wonder how you could have missed them the first time around when memories and impressions were still fresh.

All the shots below were taken with a Leica M9, 50mm Summilux f1.4 ASPH. Each shot comes with a story, below each photograph.


Caught this man staring out into space. Spectacles on his head, cup of Turkish tea empty, he sat there quite still for a long time. He noticed me taking this photograph of him, and smiled at me. I smiled back, gave him a wave and a nod in thanks.


A little bit aways from the Man with the Stare, i found this man. Sitting on the side steps of the famed Yeni Mosque, strangely alone and isolated despite being at one of the busiest mosques in Istanbul. There was no one else around him except the bird. And, of course, the ice cream in hand. Took my time with this one, snapped the shutter as he ate his ice cream. btw, Turkish ice cream is not really ice cream, it’s called dondurma. Delightful.



Right next door (literally) to the Yeni Mosque is the Istanbul Spice Bazaar. A more fantastic collection of fresh spices, dried herbs, precious oils, Turkish delights, and coffee and tea you are unlikely to find anywhere.


Outside the Spice Bazaar is the wet market. A crush of Turks visit every day. You can find fresh fish, nuts, cheeses, olives, meats, fruits and vegetables. Despite it all, i found it unusual to find a man in a jacket in the crowd. He seemed distinctively out of place. Almost like a man in shorts at a ball.


The street cafe culture in Istanbul is one of the things that identify it as a European city. You can find them everywhere, and they invariably serve a staple of drinks: tea, coffee and orange juice, freshly squeezed. I visited one everyday, and have particular fond memories of this one, Elif Cafe, where in one sitting, i drank all three drinks: tea, coffee and orange juice. Heaven.


A woman on the steps to the Blue Mosque. She was waiting for a friend to come out. She noticed me trying to take her picture quite a while before i took this shot. The contact sheet for this encounter was fun, in a way. She didn’t give me a stern look or wave me away, but she didn’t make it easy either, constantly moving. Many blurred shots preceded this one because of it. Finally, she stood still, and struck a pose, i snapped. She looked at me afterwards, saying with her eyes, “Did you get it?” — Yes i did. I smiled in thanks. One of the best street encounters i’ve ever had.


4 thoughts on “Street stories in Istanbul

  1. Very nice series, it inspired me to take more street photos, i like the way u write.. It really portray the image you capture more in depth, Keep posting. Thanks!

    Jy Wong


  2. Salam Aizuddin,
    This my first time visiting your site thru Robin’s blog. Thank you for sharing those great shots which make me to come for more. Beside your Istanbul series make me want to visit this city one day. The man with the bird is favourite as there is a sense on friendship between the two.
    May you have a great weekend and keep on shooting.
    John Ari Ragai


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