As I mentioned earlier this month, I chose Sirkeci Train Station as a location for the photo shoot and interview I took part in for Marie Claire’s November Issue, all about November in Istanbul. I’ve been in this station countless times, and love to photograph here. What was funny about this occasion is that the minute Hasan Deniz, the photographer, put down his camera bag a station security guard with a pistol on his hip arrived and told us we couldn’t shoot here without permission. It didn’t matter that all around us were Japanese tourists with equally expensive cameras and glass taking pictures. We suddenly needed permission and 500 TL to make it legit. Somehow Ece Üremez, the editor, managed to work some magic and get things rolling without any money having to change hands. However, it was hard for me not to burst out laughing throughout the shoot because the minute Hasan started shooting, all the Japanese tourists started photographing me as well. One of them virtually steadied his massive telephoto lens on Hasan’s shoulder.
If you’re interested, here are the Q&A’s:
MC: First of all, I want to ask you why Sirkeci Train Station reflects November in İstanbul for you?
The first full calendar month I spent in Istanbul was in November, and I often wished my first impressions could have been formed by stepping off a train into the midst of this incredible city at this time of year. Everything about Istanbul is so dramatic that it’s almost a shame to arrive via a generic airport. I hope that makes sense.
MC: How much different is November in Canada and in İstanbul? Can you tell me about some details … Did you love being in İstanbul during the autumn?
Very different. Where I grew up it might start snowing now and not stop until April or May the next year. Mid-September to December is my favorite time of year to be in Istanbul. The days are warm and there’s a nice bite to the evenings without it ever feeling nasty or stopping me from wanting to sit outside.
MC: Can you describe İstanbul to me in three words?
Insanely beautiful woman, or … beautifully insane woman. Not sure which is more true.
MC: From your point of view what does autumn evoke?
Ambitions, harvest, the taste of red wine, woodsmoke, bonfires, crumbly leaves, slanted light, preparation, bitter sweet departures.
MC: I read some of your writings on myphilosofia.com … There are some very creative and interesting pieces about Turkey and especially İstanbul. So I want to ask you what will you write about to reflect November in İstanbul?
Even after seven years I’m still very interested in the culinary aspects of Turkish culture. Food and meals are something that connect us all, so I love to involve it as an experience, particularly as different food comes into season.
MC: What do you wish to do most in İstanbul and yet did not realize?
I’ve always found this city very cinematic, I’d love to write and maybe produce a film project here at some point.
MC: If I asked you to talk to me about one cheerful and enjoyable autumn day in İstanbul, what would you tell me?
There have been so many … I remember once just heading to Büyükada on a Sunday when all the tourists had left and still being able to sit outdoors and enjoy the afternoon and evening with my wife and friends.
MC: You have also passion for photography (and I loved your pictures they are so natural and beautiful.) So, if you are going to reflect İstanbul with only one photo, which place or what will be included in this picture?
That’s tough … perhaps it’s a cliché but I’d probably want to work in the Bosporus somehow. Without her, Istanbul wouldn’t be the character she is. She sets the tone. If you don’t respect her, you’ll drown, or at the very least, lose your ship.
MC: What is your most vivid childhood memory from autumn?
It’s not so much a memory as a series of vignettes or sensations. Twigs snapping underfoot. The scrape of a leaf rake on pavement. Blustery wind. Leaves blowing down the street. Woodsmoke and the flicker and pop of a kindling fire. Pale slanted light. Itchy wool sweaters.
MC: If I asked you a secret escape point of yours, which place would you say to me?
Within the city …? I’m always looking for a new one. When I grab my camera, I try and head down a new street and see what opens up before me. There are so many I haven’t explored. Hidden gardens. Obscure pasajlar. Crumbling hans. But I think my favorite, trusted escape is the Karaköy-Kadiköy vapur. It’s a route that you can easily take within a day and be back home before dinner.