Istanbul Street Photographer, A Social Media Story.

Istanbul has a population speeding towards 20 million, its chaotic sprawl stretching from the fringe of Europe to deep into Asian Anatolia, the tide of humanity not only ebbs and flows it grapples, struggles and despite the body blows of urban gentrification it survives and does so often with humility.

For a street photographer, and am not really comfortable with the rank but I am a photographer and the streets do provide my subjects, Istanbul is a feracious playground.

I had been asked to help run a workshop for some visiting street photographers and had set out to scout some new locations, the old Khans of Istanbul provide excellent settings, you only have to watch the movies Taken and James Bond to recognize the potential, the ancient Caravansaries once served as bed and board for traders, the horses tethered in stables around a courtyard and the traveling salesmen would relax on the upper levels with whatever the Ottomans used prior to cable television.

These days the Khans are shops and ad-hoc workshops and as I wandered the upper most level of one a man stepped out of low arched doorway, his face blackened from the grime of his blacksmith forge, with his hands on his hips his stare unnerving, there are times though when you really cannot turn down an opportunity,  I stopped and asked if I can take his picture, he seemed bemused I would want to do that but accepted, I shot, thanked him and moved on, he made one parting tongue in cheek comment of being African, possibly only then realizing why I had been so interested to photograph him.

Now normally it is about now the story would end, not quite, arriving home I edited the image and pleased with the result uploaded to my Facebook page, an hour or so later checking the notifications I noticed a new follower who had commented in Turkish, the translation said, “hey that’s me in the photograph”  and sure enough it was. I am still not sure exactly how he found the image so quickly and can only assume the diligent use of appropriate hash tags connected me to Murat in this teaming teapot of a city of 20 million, he was very happy with the picture and very soon shared with his family and friends, I am taking him a print although finding the same workshop in the labyrinth will be a challenge.


For more Istanbul street photography as well as commercial and editorial and portraits visit my website Istanbul Photographer

61 thoughts on “Istanbul Street Photographer, A Social Media Story.

    1. Thanks Victor, I can only assume via the Istanbul hashtag I added, seems its actually worth added them! I will talk with him soon when I take him a copy.
      Thanks for connecting on FB by the way, love your live music shots, I used to shoot music events a long time ago in the UK, will try some here sooner or later.
      Take care

  1. Clear Lake Journal

    John, thank you for liking my post on Cartegena. I really do like your work. Looking forward to seeing more of your photographs and reading more of your stories. – Larry

    1. Thank you Craig.
      Small word indeed. He was quite intimidating but cheeky with it, am so glad I took the chance.
      You have some great landscape images, something I have never really been involved with but am planning for the future, no doubt knowing myself they will be B+W but looking forward to exploring new ideas.

    1. Thank you so much Daniela, it really is a favorite of mine.
      Have been dabbling with some fashion work recently-if you ever need a break from Mexico am sure Istanbul has lots to inspire you.

      1. Health is a bit so-so but generally good. I have had mostly good reviews for the book but bear in mind it is a personal memoir and your experience might be different from mine. I am not selling it well, am I? My psychiatrist put it on his approved book list for patients…

      2. Haha am sure if your psychiatrist approves then it must be good 🙂
        Selling your own work is always difficult, at least this is my experience, its not great for business but at least its an endearing quality. Take care

  2. Great story with a stunning portrait. I really hope you find him again to deliver the print. It is amazing how a single photo, a fleeting moment, can have an impact on someone else’s live without us even realizing it.

  3. Itdm5j21

    Hello John, thank you for taking the time to view and ‘like’ my ‘ It was like 1960 again’ post. Really, I haven’t done much in the way of street photography. So, input from you is much appreciated. I too have read your ‘Istanbul Street Photographer, A Social Media Story’ and notwithstanding the difficult lives of the people you photograph, it is terrific to read of the connection possible with ‘social media’ these days. Certainly it’s not all dark and terrible! I found your post uplifting. I also, having photograph the four youngsters, made it a priority to publish and hope they will see themselves and that I may receive some feedback. My best wishes to you and I shall now click the follow button,
    Kind regards,

    1. Thank you Ian
      I think you are doing a sterling job of documenting life and the changes around WSM, often its our own neighborhoods we neglect to photograph, an archive of images over time as a city changes is a valuable thing, keep up the good work. Love your main image of the pier.
      Best of luck

  4. Very interesting post.
    I am a hobbyist photographer mostly taking snaps on our travels. I don’t seek to be a professional or expert, but your work inspires me to try my hand at portraits.

  5. Lovely story and great portrait. I was getting some prints framed recently for an exhibition and the framer looked at one of the “street portraits” and said “hey I know him, he’s my hairdresser.” I’m also going to be taking him a print but he’ll be a little easier to find than your subject I think.

  6. John, thanks for liking my post on choosing a camera.
    This is an amazing story. He must be good with social media :). The world definitely is shrinking around us. I love your portraits, they are great in B&W. They all seem to tell a story, it is so different from the posed studio or outdoor portraits.

  7. I really want to say how beautiful all your pictures are but my words are no match to your work. It’s a great feeling looking at your photos on a lazy Sunday evening. Your black and white pictures added color to my otherwise dull mood. Thank you for sharing your work John 🙂

  8. Pingback: The Girl On The Ferry – John Wreford Photographer

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