Photography & Expression: fail
During my many times studying abroad I had the chance to participate in lectures within various academic disciplines. But often I also didn't have the chance to take the courses I wanted. In Turkey I finally had the opportunity to take on an arts class. I was excited to learn about photography, cameras, how to see and evaluate an object or scene, how to play with color and light, and much more. Turns out the lecture was shit, the teacher in love with himself but deadly critical of others, attendance was a pain in the ass and I have learned precisely nothing. Like some others I quit the course after a few weeks and went traveling instead of taking my mid-term which automatically kicked me out of the course.
Still, I liked my idea and even though I had to leave Turkey a bit early and couldn't finish the project in time for myself (it should have turned into a real photo book with roughly 15 pages), I wanted to share the project with you. The photos have not been retouched as it was not about creating a book anymore but simply sharing the idea.
In Istanbul I lived in the district Kadıköy (which means Village of the Judge. It was located outside Constantinople, but was put under jurisdiction of its courts), in Duatepe Sokak which crosses with Karakolhane Caddesi. This previously problematic street has turned into a new, young and stylish one with traditional shops and wonderful new eateries. I went out on Karakolhane to interview owners of those old and new little shops and take pictures of their faces surrounded by their passion or source of income.
As I couldn't finish the project I will also show practice shots from other sources afterwards. Since my travel has ended and I have to be a productive, capitalistic member of society for a little while, extending the project throughout the other countries didn't work out. I hope you enjoy those pictures.
Please, keep in mind that I am not a professional photographer, nor am I super into it, nor have I used a very good camera. This is supposed to be a fun project - Erasmus style
Unfortunately, I seem to have lost all my notes about the interviews as I have changed countries 5 times in the meantime, so I will try to reconstruct the main points from memory.
Lots of love,
The faces of Karakolhane
The tailor is a lot older than what he looks like. His story was incredible and full of twists. To avoid misrepresenting his life I will only summarize it roughly. He grew up in the Northeast of Turkey as the son of poor farmers. One day he saw a movie about the glamorous, buzzing city of Istanbul. The next day he rode to Istanbul by hiding on train, at approx. 13 years of age. He lived on the streets as a beggar until he could find a job as a helper with a tailor. Since he had seen some in the movie, the man was intrigued by the elegant Western-style suits and colorful, pompous cloths from the Ottoman times wealthy men were wearing in the beginning of the 20th century. Soon the old tailor who had hired the young boy and specialized in male clothing, discovered the talent of his helper who became an apprentice and soon was a successful tailor himself who took over the shop from his old master. The shop and its name has remained the same over the past decades. Once he travelled back to his hometown to meet the family he out of the blue left and tell them about his new successful life, only to find that his parents had died. Nowadays his profession in its traditional form is dying out, but luckily he still has enough work because his name remains known throughout the city and among business men who appreciate his craft and passion. Since starting on this path not one day has passed on which he didn't sew. He told me that he plans on dying with a needle in his hand, the love of his life and the only thing he ever knew how to do.
The hair dresser has hands which have known hard work. He as well is from the Northeast and has come to Istanbul with his family to find work. There, as a little boy, he began working in a blacksmith. In those times protective gear was not common, so his hands, arms and partly his face has seen pain, scars and burns. At some point he couldn’t go on anymore and found a place as apprentice with a hair dresser. Today he has many customers, (almost) exclusively male, and refused to stop working even for 5 minutes for the interview. He loves his profession.
This woman is several years younger than me and has opened her own pharmacy only months ago, right out of university. She has been working diligently, and with support of her family she acquired this place to make her dream come true: be self-employed in her academic field. She has chosen to open her pharmacy in Kadıköy because she saw great potential in the growth of this area and loves the feeling to be on Karakolhane.
This woman is full of joy. She had taken over this little café/bakery and kept the name unchanged due to its popularity, it was the name of the previous owner. She is doing all work herself, but her husband, who is working a full-time day job, helps out in the evenings and weekends. It is a lovely little place with delicious baked goods, most of which are cookies. Her dream came true with this shop and still things are going well, but she is afraid she cannot stay solvent as the café is not hip and young, the direction Kadıköyis changing in.
The café man has always dreamed of owning a place like this, completely modeled to his vision, and had recently opened this modern café which has a name that expresses his deep feelings for his partner. He feels at home in Kadıköy and foresees a great future in the development of the area, the young people coming in and the international crowd that for the most part does not consist of short-term tourists.
The Pide man was the one I was frequenting the most. He was the shiest and most quiet interviewee. And the only one who was unhappy with his choice of work. He never wanted to work there but has taken over this shop from his father. Sales are not going as well anymore though his goods are cheap, delicious and of good quality. He didn't know what else to do with his life, what his passions were. He simply followed what life had thrown at him or what was expected of him.
The baker likes his job but has seen a huge drop in sales with the growth of supermarkets and is thus extremely worried about the future. He built up his shop, experienced the golden age of fresh bread and the problematic years of social unrest. Now the gentrification threatens his business.
Of the Simit man I took a picture by myself but unfortunately could not talk to him.
My classmate who is the head of a number of clubs and in the forefront of many events in the university.
My first Turkish tandem partner who works tirelessly to learn German for his exam so he qualifies for a scholarship. He dreams of starting a new, better life in Germany, starting with a cultural visa and scholarship as a Karate coach, even though he has never been outside Turkey his entire life.
This was a guy living in the flat beneath mine who has kept his dog sometimes on our big balcony. He is a surfing instructor waiting to start working around the world again while taking English classes in his home country.
The guy who I met in the hostel after my arrival in Istanbul. He has arranged a flat for me and my friends and became my translator for these interviews. He has become self-employed with a couple of friends who now help others to realize their projects in the fields of social and environmental work through networking, gathering funds and organizational support.
Waitress in Pärnu. I chose her because she has the most Estonian face ever.
My Kazakh-Estonian friend. Student. Beautiful on outside and inside.