Although our day started this morning with emails and phone calls, we did manage to step out this afternoon with our cameras. We were lucky that Ferdi Limani was available to come with us. Ferdi speaks fluent Turkish (one of his 5 languages!), so he was able to chat with local Turks on the street. David and Ferdi met in Kosovo in 1999; at that time, Ferdi was working as a fixer for James Nachtwey.
Here’s Ferdi against a background David was experimenting with on our walk:
Ferdi, David Gross
(Side note for those curious about equipment etc.: David shoots with an Olympus OM-D camera. This shot was taken with a Leica DG Summilux 25mm 1.4 lens, at ISO 250, 1/60, f2.8)
We decided to head to the Eminönü neighborhood in Istanbul, as we had heard from several people that there were many Syrian refugees living on the streets and parks there; specifically, we had heard that many were living near the Süleymaniye Mosque. The reality was much more complicated. We discovered some Syrian families living in abandoned buildings in the area, but as one Syrian man told us, many of these people had moved to Istanbul for economic reasons, rather than in flight from the war.
The information we got from Turkish people on the street was varied and often contradictory. Some claimed the Syrians in Eminönü were largely well-off, and pretending to be refugees in order to make extra money by begging on the streets. On the other hand, the people we saw living in abandoned houses looked like they were really scraping to survive. The truth, whatever it is, must be extremely complicated.
In leaving Eminönü, we ran into a lively bunch of Turkish kids in the street, including this young girl with a mask:
Young girl on street, David Gross (same camera & lens as above, ISO 250 1/80 f2.8)
We also discovered that the light in Istanbul becomes incredibly warm and beautiful this time of year at around 4pm. It turns the colors of the street rich and vibrant.
Here’s another iPhone photo I took of David. I promise to start taking a wider variety of test photos on the iPhone, so you all don’t get tired of looking at him. I am excited to see how my film images (of others!) in this light & location turned out.
David in Eminönü, Mieke Strand
Such gorgeous colors and textures in this city.