Summer, when it passes, leaves a certain hazy vagueness. A pleasurable dream reluctantly relinquished. The way the sun warms your limbs. The blueness behind your eyelids as you stretch laze beneath the sun. Some places in the world, they’re about to drift back into that dreamy state. Just before summer disappeared here in Istanbul, I was fortunate enough to complete an assignment for my client, Atolyia, as Kurban Bayram, approached. Hopping on and off a sailboat around the Islands shooting beautiful women in pestemals and beach wraps is not a bad way to spend a few days. Here’s a glimpse of some of the highlights.
All styling by the inimitable Selin Sönmez-Tokgozlu.
Today I finally get to share something with you that I’ve wanted to share for a while. One of the reasons my posting has been so spotty of late is that I have been busy working on an interesting new project for BABAJI PIDE, a new venture by famed London restaurateur, Alan Yau, which places pide centre stage while celebrating the many pleasures of Turkish cuisine.
Working with Simon Johnson from THAT Magazine, we’ve been creating content for the new website, which just launched and you can view here. I’m pleased to say that I’ve done all the original photography for the site so far as well as a bit of writing too.
A high point in the work so far was getting to shoot with Ayse Dilek from FOOD PROJECT, who shared this recipe which you can make at home. So as a bonus today, I’m including the extremely delicious pide recipe she shared to make at home and tide you over until you can drop in on BABAJI PIDE on Shaftesbury Road in Soho. Here it is:
MOZZARELLA, COTTAGE CHEESE, SEMI-HOT PEPPER PIDE
INGREDIENTS (Makes 5 pides)
500 grams flour
12.5 grams olive oil
10gr granulated sugar
12.5 gr salt
1 grams fresh yeast
625 grams mozzarella / Turkish string cheese (if available)
375 grams cottage cheese / Turkish Çökelek (if available)
25 small pickled semi-hot peppers
Add fresh yeast to warm water (slightly warmer than lukewarm) and wait until it dissolves, set aside.
Combine flour, olive oil, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Make a trough in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Using your hands knead the dough together until it is smooth and consistent. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise for minimum 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Divide the dough into five equal pieces. Using a thin rolling pin, shape each portion into an oval.
Place ovals onto an oven tray. Distribute the toppings equally among the ovals.
Drizzle with olive oil and bake for approximately 10 min or until the pide dough is golden and crisp at the edges.
Serve with some fat dollops of Balkan style yoghurt and roughly chopped fresh mint & parsley … afiyet olsun! And drop me a line if you try the recipe at home, please. I’d love to know what you think.
I have a confession to make. Wait … I have two confessions to make. One, I have neglected the blog a bit lately and for that I am genuinely sorry, so I hope today’s post helps rectify my shabby behaviour. Two, I have an addiction.
My addiction led to wanton coffee consumption all across Istanbul. Worse, not all of that coffee was virtuous. To be honest, much of it was downright awful. You see, I did not know the origin of my espressos and lattes. And, yes, I am ashamed. Fortunately, a little over two years ago, I met a coffee snob who helped reform me. I am a new man, thanks to Çagatay Gülabioğlu. In coffee, once more, I trust.
Thanks to Çagatay’s high standards, he drew the attention of Mr Mehmet Gürs, top chef and the founder of Istanbul Food and Beverage Group, who has since become involved as a patron of coffee excellence. My own personal stake in this story is that I have had the pleasure of doing a couple of photo shoots with the new Kronotrop gang, both at their Cihangir shop location and their roastery, and truly enjoyed myself witnessing the processes involved to brew a worthy cup.
Perhaps to some coffee seems like a rather mundane affair, but in all seriousness, I really like to explore the processes and the degree of attention which the people who work together to bring me — and, I hope, you too — a much better cup of coffee. Think of all the different people a single cup of coffee connects. It’s the attention to detail and the eagerness to share a better experience which I can relate to and inspires me in my work.
Above and below are some of the keepers and outtakes from the shoots.
Pomegranates. Steaming tulip shaped glasses of tea. Walnuts and wood fires. And, most importantly, good company. Blue may be a theme this October, but there’s no reason not to pair it up with a little warmth, right?
Don’t know about you, but I like a good party. However the party of parties is a wedding, so I have to say I like a good wedding even more. Today I thought I’d reminisce about my favourite assignment of 2013: Cansu & Baskin’s Wedding. Like all the best jobs it was an opportunity to collaborate with some great talent, including a true friend and a great visual storyteller, Ahmet Polat — I certainly wouldn’t have been comfortable attempting to tell this grand a story without him. Over 400 guests! So let it be known that his shots feature prominently in this collection. Now that you know who I documented the event with, let’s introduce you to our two leads in this grand love story, the bride, Cansu, and the groom, Baskin.
Nice couple, no? If only every assignment found me working with such a fun pair. Not surprisingly, their family and friends were a class act and a spirited group of individuals too. When shooting a wedding, I like to include lots of the back story. It’s not simply about the poses, the set ups and I do moments. It’s as much about all the work and all the dear friends that brought two such worthy people together. That’s why it’s really important to document these moments in the lead up since they fly by so swiftly on the day itself. Read More…
These are just a few of the people who stood out over the last little while. People who inspired me with their professionalism. It’s not what they wear to work but the way they work their personal style, making hard work look all the more rewarding. I’d like to buy you all a nice cold beer.
You’re the colour of renewal, of life. As the sun leeches the blue out of you, you succumb to a sickly, yellowish tinge. But while you’re at your best, vibrant and deep, you’re flexible, beautiful, strong and limber, fresh and true. Stay good. Stay green.
If posting has been a little erratic lately that’s in part because I’ve been gearing up for a week-long exhibition I’m taking part in called Printemps Des Artistes which opens in Galatasaray next week. The theme is Passages. I’ve been trying for the last couple of months to shoot, select and narrow down a number of photos which fit this theme, but also sing of Istanbul. The images shown here were shot for this purpose but didn’t make the final cut. While it’s a fantastic compliment to be asked to be part of an exhibition, narrowing down the images for my first exhibition was really difficult for me. Fortunately, I had plenty of guidance from the organizers and was also able to draw upon the expertise of a true friend, Ahmet Polat — I couldn’t have done it without you. All the self-induced torture and torment dissipated when I saw the images appear in large format art prints at Difo in Seyrantepe. Hope anyone who’s in town will come out to the opening and see the final cut.
Doors open at 18:30 Friday, April 12 at Sainte Pulchérie Fransız Lisesi,
Çukurluçesme Sokak No 7, Parmakkapı 34433 Beyoglu, Istanbul
The range of emotions you experience in a city like this makes a minute wear like a day, a day like a week and a … well you get the idea. Yet there’s nothing wrong with feeling, right? But how much can you confine to such a small time and space? Something could rupture. Hope it isn’t us.