• blueness II: oriental blue

    October 12th, 2014

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    tea-bowl

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    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?

  • the disappearing mist: tarabya

    April 19th, 2014

    triptych 1

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    Perhaps it’s the proximity to the Black Sea. One last stretch of strait and you are somewhere else entirely, behind another curtain. Some mornings you emerge from your house to a disappeared world. What was there the previous morning has vanished. Objects become outlines. The vaguest sketch of reality. It’s kind of magic, almost as if you could trip off the sidewalk and fall into an infinite nothingness.

    triptych 2

  • just like to say …

    December 25th, 2013

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    Merry Christmas

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  • lost in a big northern sky

    September 10th, 2013

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    There are few things more compelling to me than the sea. But when I think back on Denmark, which I was in about a month ago, I keep thinking of that massive sky. Not that the sea there isn’t impressive. It’s just that the ceiling above it is so mind-boggling big and blue. I miss that vastness. What will you remember, Sof?

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  • On our way … more soon.

    February 2nd, 2013

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    We’re just returning from a little trip outside Istanbul. The grass is a vibrant shade of green all year round, the ale selection is impressive and we get to see a different side of life. It’s nice having an international little family. More posts coming soon. Promise.

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  • Happy Holidays

    December 27th, 2012

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    Well here we are again, in the midst of yet  another holiday season. How do the years slip away so effortlessly? One of the best things about being a parent is rediscovering the magic of this holiday through someone else’s eyes. For me, Christmas still has some magic, but it’s best spent on the young, rather than trying to recreate the illusions you had when you were a child. It’s even somewhat weird to be the guardian of a tradition you have such mixed feelings about, and  yet, despite the doubts and the stress, it’s more than just the atmosphere. There’s something to it. Perhaps Like a magic trick, you’re better off not deconstructing it, and rather letting it be. I hope you find your magic this season.

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  • Dear Sof IV

    September 3rd, 2012

    Sorry to disappear for a while, but I’ve been busy with work, trying to catch up after a much needed holiday, and also waiting to tell you about some fun small projects that I’ve been working on that I can’t reveal just yet. Also, this blog is important to me and I want to keep the quality of the photos, stories and commentary high because I’m doing it for some really important people. If you’re reading this, that includes you, so please drop me an email, comment or make a suggestion about things you’d like me to explore. It’s my ambition to post five days a week, but I’d rather post less than just post anything. The more I think I know about this world I’m in, the more I realize I’ve just turned one small page in a much larger book which has been written in several languages. Thanks for staying with me. There’s a lot more to come.

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  • Woodcutters & Management.

    March 6th, 2012

     THE AXE MAN.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank God … or the universe. Whoever or whatever is in charge seems to have brought the sun back after what felt like an interminable season of grey. Yesterday, to pay tribute to this momentous event, I decided that I would go out and look for color, specifically, pairings of yellow and blue. At the moment, I am really enjoying the interplay between these two primary partners — red is such a prima donna don’t you think, always blazing away, snatching center stage? Sorry, I digress.

    Something else happened. While I was out shooting stuff. I heard a cry. No, it was not spring. It was a group of woodcutters. They wanted their photos taken. One of the things I love about Turkey is that the working classes are only too happy to jump in front of the camera. 

    SOME HARD-SLOGGING GENTS REVEALING THEIR TOIL TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD.

    These guys reminded me that there’s no point setting out with an agenda. The story will come, but it’ll be told through you, not by you. 

    Carl Sagan — a much more appealing voice for the virtues of reason over faith than, say, Richard Dawkins — once said something to the effect of: “We are the universe’s way of knowing itself.”

    I agree. That’s why we shouldn’t separate ourselves from it or think we can order it according to our wishes. There’s a larger reality, that’s only given to us in glimpses.

    THE BAG MAN.

    So we can stomp through life looking for what we want, trying to prove a point, or we can watch, listen and allow the universe to peel back the curtain a bit and reveal something far more interesting than we originally imagined. Yesterday I went out looking for yellow and blue. I got a glimpse of some far more interesting color while I joked and snapped photos of these guys, nobly spotlit by a shaft or two of light in the flapping tarp above.

    Then the long shadow of management appeared and sent me on my way, and the men back to work.

    THE LONG SHADOW OF MANAGEMENT.

    What do you think? Are we storytellers? Or merely props in a story too grand for us to comprehend? Are we woodcutters or management? Feel free to let me know. 

  • Reading list: James Salter

    March 5th, 2012

    Due to technical difficulties, I seem to have lost— in fact, deleted by my own blundering—my original post. Somebody recently suggested I start a reading list on my site, so with that in mind this is the first entry under that title.

    A Sport And A Pastime, for the simple reason that it was the first book of his I read, and also the one that has stayed with me ever since. Literally. I picked it up back in 2006, before a brief escape into the paradise of Turkey’s of Turkey’s Lycian and Aegean coasts, and have yet to relinquish this copy. I have bought other copies, and loaned them out, but it’s the one book I never put down. I’ve read it from start to finish many times, but I have often carried it with me to pop open at random and read, if only to remind myself what good writing is whenever I feel lost.

    The book tells the story of a love affair between a Yale dropout and French shopgirl as they tour France. The nameless narrator recounts their tale in fragments. What he tells has been told to him, observed by him and imagined by him. Salter’s France is as vivid as the real thing.

    I’ve accorded Mr Salter’s book my first reading list post for a simple reason. No other writer has taught me so much about good writing in the last ten years as Mr Salter. His prose is, in a word, luminous. Five words of Salter’s can render an image as vivid as even the best photographs.

    If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know what you think. If you haven’t, I can’t recommend it, or his other writings for that matter, enough.

  • February Elle Magazine (Türkiye) Interview:

    February 7th, 2012

    PORTRAIT TAKEN BY SELIN SÖNMEZ

    Following is an English transcription of my Q&A’s with Elle Turkey’s Seda Yilmaz:

    SEDA YILMAZ: For how many years did you work as an advertising creative? How did you decide to stop and pursue your dream of becoming a writer?

    I worked as an agency copywriter for around 10 years. Then it lost its spark …  but I was really fortunate to work with some amazing talents in art direction, copywriting, as well as photography, illustration, sound and television production. Working with actors in the studio on scripts was a particular highlight, but advertising was never where I wanted to be. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about 15. That was the first time I thought about it, but I took action around 6 years ago with the decision to drop everything I know and move to Istanbul to work on novels rather than try to cram the kind of writing I love into the 3 hours I had before going to an agency. 
    SEDA YILMAZ: In what ways does Istanbul inspire you?
    Endless ways. Where do I start? It’s a very curvy city, winding and deceptive. You think you know something but then you round a bend and you’re in an altogether different place than you were 30 seconds earlier. The people. The energy. The architecture. The everyday drama. It’s so changeable. You needn’t look far for a muse in Istanbul. The water alone has a voice.
    SEDA YILMAZ: I don’t want to call you an outsider. But even though you’ve been living in Istanbul for a long time you still have this curious and distinct way of looking at the city. How do you maintain this?
    No, no, call me an outsider. That’s one of the liberating things about being here. I’m comfortable with that. Even after a lifetime I think I’d still be getting the hang of this city, its rhythms, its nuances, its unpredictability, its people. It’s kind of like a love affair. Some days are caring. Some days are tempestuous. Some days I feel downright bruised. But it never bores me, being in this relationship. Once you think you know someone, it’s over. Then there are no surprises left. There are times I need a break because Istanbul is a demanding beauty, but she’s worth it, and her indulgences are great. 
    SEDA YILMAZ: Which parts of the city do you like the most? What makes them appealing?
    Right now I’m really loving Karaköy. Its a very unpredictable place, with a lot of divers yet converging flows—people, places and personalities. Again, it’s never still, but it manages to hold on to something that Beyoglu once had and now seems to have lost. But there are countless other places I’m dying to explore. There are so many hidden corners, I haven’t explored. The idea of those excite me the most. But being near the water is really important. The Black Sea, the Bosporus, The Marmara, The Golden Horn, stray to far from those and the thrill dries out.
    SEDA YILMAZ: I love the way you associated alchemy with creativity. How do you nurture your creativity?
    By staying curious. If you approach your work with openness, and hone your observational skills, I think you’ll always be rewarded with an interesting outcome. But if you approach your creativity with an ego-driven agenda, to prove something or win some personal glory, it gets tired fast. You have to be passionate about the act of questioning, not answering. You have to lust for wonder. Once you have the answers, the story’s over. 
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