• Food & Drink,  Places

    Spilling into the street: café culture in Istanbul

    I recently composed a half page piece for the Globe & Mail, one of Canada’s national broadsheets regarding Istanbul’s café culture, and my pick for the best coffee joint in the city. It was nice to see they used my photography as well. I must say I had a great time researching the piece, as drinking coffee and people-watching seems to be one of favorite pastimes. They didn’t edit or alter much of what I submitted. I had hoped to include a link to their website, but the piece has only appeared in print. To read the full text please follow the link below the article picture.

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Dragon and his lamps

    Don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for workshops. I think it’s great to  see how people work, how they create. Today I went to the old city as we just move house and are in need of some new lighting. I decided to go old school, as in Ottoman old school. For some of my Turkish friends Ottoman touches around the house can feel a little kitsch, but I like an eclectic mix of contemporary and old, and one of the things I really enjoy, kitsch or not, are Ottoman-style lamps. In order to see if I could save some money, I decided to pay a visit to a han where I remembered seeing a lamp maker. At first, I thought he was gone but then I called out up the stair above the closed dükkan above and then then popped my head up the stair, where I…

  • People,  Places

    Sokak Style at Holy Coffee

    A good café needs a cool street presence. In fact, it’s not just about the coffee, it’s about the vibe, which is all about the people, the kind of character and the community you draw. Holy Coffee in Çukurcuma not only brews a decent cup, they attract a lively crowd, happy to spill into the street, whether it’s for a smoke, a chat or to soak up the nice warm autumn light. This place has a friendly, lively vibe and it regularly fills with some of my favorite people. I have to say, I’m feeling the love.

  • Places

    Sirkeci Train Station

    What is it about train stations? They’re certainly a reminder of the most civilized form of mass transportation ever conceived, a place where you can travel in relative comfort, style and not somehow feel dehumanized at the same point. That’s not to say there aren’t routes or stations (especially in India) that can’t be cramped or uncomfortable, but how romantic is our notion of trains? This station was the last terminal in the legendary Orient Express. Embarking or disembarking here would be something special. Just imagine the people who trafficked through this place. I recently chose it as a location for a magazine photo shoot, where I was fortunate enough to be the subject (I’ll let you know the details when the November  issue magazine hits the stands).  Train stations in Istanbul like this one seem to communicate the transitional nature of this country from a dwindling empire to republic…

  • Food & Drink

    Palamut

    No innocent people were harmed in the crafting of this post. Just some fish. Yes, my friends, the streets have come alive with the sound of “Beş Lira! Beş Lira! Beş Lira! Evet Palamut! Beş Lira! Beş Lira! Beş Lira!” Palamut, a kind of Turkish Bonito is in season at the moment, and no matter where you go they all seem to be 5tl (Roughly $2.50 US) per fish, which is a mighty fine deal for catch of the day. This oily fish is a perennial favorite of many fishstanbulians—sorry could resist, but didn’t. They’re caught both in the Bosporus and Black Sea, and probably chock full of all the right omega fatty acids. So Bonito appetito! Their suffering isn’t in vain. It’s Friday and this nice man below will do all the hard work for you, like gut and behead the little devils. Now stop staring at me, fisheye, you had it coming, and you…

  • People,  Places

    Istanbullu II

    There are so many great faces, and so many great stories to go with them in this city. What do each of these expressive faces tell you? How much can you read? It’s all there in black and white, shadow and light.

  • People

    Romani girl

    Today I was out researching a story on café culture for a foreign newspaper and I saw the Romani girl above carrying this small boy past the cafe I was sitting at in Karaköy, where the privileged young and beautiful lounge, surf and socialize. She was importuning some man for a handout or something she wanted. It happens all the time, but there was something striking about her. No one batted an eyelash. About an hour or so later I stopped for a tea on the Golden Horn past the Galata Bridge still thinking about the story I’m working on. There she was again perched on a stool with a glass of tea at her feet and a foolishly long cigarette, awkward between her painted nails, and this young boy, her brother, I hope, fast asleep in her lap. She’s tiny and he looks almost half her bodyweight, yet she carries him around and…

  • Food & Drink

    Autumn Ottoman Delights

    Once again I managed to snag a delicious (literally) photo assignment with friends and foodies, chef Selcuk Aruk and writer Lale Kayabey for XOXO the Mag. October’s issue features a fantastic array of autumnal colors and tastes favored by the Ottomans. This time I thought I’d show some of the photos that didn’t make the final cut. Trust these dishes and their ingredients — jujubes, pomegranates, cinnamon, spice, carrots, spinach and yoghurt and everything nice — to make your mouth water. They certainly did mine.

  • People,  Places

    Tarlabaşı

    Between thriving Beyoglu and the Golden Horn, Tarlabaşı could be the most cheerfully doomed neighborhood in the world. I’ve been meaning to pay this area a visit for some time, but have been deterred by the fact that some other people whose work I really respect have already delved into this dilapidated old Greek hood which is largely populated by Kurdish migrants from Eastern Turkey as well as Roma. Regardless, I felt I needed to see this area before the last vestiges of its current community are driven out in the ongoing gentrification or “urban revitalization” or “historic protection” — whatever you’d like to call it — process is complete. What I found truly surprised me. It’s  the friendliest neighborhood I’ve encountered in Istanbul, and perhaps the poorest. There are plenty of men on street corners who don’t want their photographs taken for reasons you can probably imagine, yet there was…

  • People

    The salvagers

    They’re as essential a part of the community as the fish monger or the green grocer, but they’re seldom greeted by residents with anything but disdain and sometimes hostility. Even the street dogs will sometimes let loose and kick up a fuss, bark at them and chase them in packs. Yet in a city like Istanbul these people provide an essential service, one of many that keeps this city moving  They take our discarded papers, boxes, cans and beer bottles to recycle depots, saving taxpayers the feel-good service of a recycling service. They also unburden city sanitation workers of a great deal of waste, and somehow salvage a living, digging through smelly and possibly dangerous bins, combing society’s junk piles for today’s treasures. I couldn’t help but notice the man above as he paused in his recovery efforts this morning and sat down with a perfectly folded intact copy of…