• Photography

    cansu & baskın

    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…

  • People

    The Epiphany

    Today was not a warm day for a stroll beside the Bosporus and no one with any sense was dressed in anything less than full headgear and warm winter clothes. Then again — for some there is a strong sense of faith in both community and tradition. Today is a special day for Turkey’s Orthodox Community, who marked the date of the Epiphany, or the revelation of God to the Gentiles through the form of the Christ. Into the Bosporus jumped four brave souls on the most blustery cold day of the season. We were expecting snow today, so you had to be brave to leap from the shelter of a boat to the warmth of a waiting terry cloth bathrobe. Nevertheless some young men from the Orthodox community did just that to mark this important date on the calendar. Once again, I’m grateful to have witnessed one of the…

  • Places

    Mussel man

    Everyday in some ways, extraordinary in others. That for me is what life is like in this city. This man is rinsing his catch of mussels with water from the Tarabya harbour. Some 25 metres away they’re driving huge underwater pylons/footings for the new floating pier system. It’s a little disturbing, thinking of what may be being unearthed, and what’s being poured into the water this man is using for his food source. Apparently this is one of the cleanest stretches of the Bosporus, and people (during warmer weather, at least) often swim around here. I’m certainly no marine biologist but the vast numbers of predators such as dolphins, often seem like an encouraging sign that this seaway is still a vital one. Let’s hope it stays that way for men like this as well as for the life within it. We need each other.

  • 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…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    Bosporus deluxe

    A few weeks back I spent some time in front of the camera instead of behind it touring around the Sea of Marmara and up and down the Bosporus. It was quite an experience and a nice way to earn some money, especially when being on the water was a lot more comfortable than being immersed in the dense heat of the city streets. The Bosporus really is this city’s spiritual life source. It never gets tiring being on the sea, whatever type of vessel you’re on. However, I have to say, this particular one was the finest I’ve had the pleasure of being aboard, incredibly comfortable, and tastefully appointed. It had all the old school charm in its design that I’d want if I was fortunate enough to be able to afford such a craft. Despite being perfectly happy aboard a vapur on the Bosporus you can imagine how…

  • Places

    Escaping the hottest month

    It’s Ramazan and it’s hot. Forgive me, humid. In any case it’s not the best of times to be in a cramped city of 15 million … or is it that 18 million? Everything is a bit of a blur right now. Anyway, the days are a real test for everyone in the city, especially those observing the fast. As I’m not, the challenge is finding someplace cool and welcoming where you can eat and drink without feeling like you’re rubbing it in people’s faces.

  • Photography,  Places

    Neighborhood watch: Tarabya

    In a few months we’ll probably be leaving our beloved Yeniköy for Tarabya, one village farther up the Bosporus towards the Black Sea. Like Yeniköy it’s originally a Greek village (Therapia). However, it differs from Yeniköy significantly in that it has a large natural harbor dominated by the architecture of the Tarabya Hotel which is currently under renovation. This building is unique to the Bosporus in both its architecture and its size and under normal circumstances would be an illegal building for the Bosporus, exceeding its building height restrictions, yet somehow this one snuck through. While I wouldn’t want more hotels like this crowding the shores of the Bosporus, I’m actually quite fond of it and its placement at one of the last points before the strait curls towards the Black Sea. Tarabya is a very mixed neighborhood. Waterside there are pricey properties and perhaps one too many a fish…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    Cold tea time

    It’s not always easy to get a beer in this city. Sometimes, it has to be done on the sly. Recently I was in a nice little eatery a bit too close to a mosque to have an alcohol license, which used the code name soğuk çay (cold tea) for beer. There are times when I enjoy these little rituals and games and  then there are times when I just want a beer without any secret handshakes or fuss. Yes, there are days when it seems that there are a few too many fences between me and the swinging Sultan style of life I believe I desire. Some days I’m half tempted to just knock at the gate of someones’s yalı and find out what’s going on for those fortunate enough to live within toe-dipping distance of the Bosporus. Fortunately there are a few places where you can almost pretend you’re an Ottoman…

  • Places

    The last outpost

    Sometimes I wonder where the city of Istanbul begins and ends. I don’t mean officially, on a map, which it splashes across like an upended bucket of paint. Psychologically speaking, there’s a place where its growth seems to have stopped: Rumeli Kavagi. There’s something about this place that intrigues me, something I can’t quite explain. It could be paradise. It’s far from it however.  There’s a desolate, decaying, end and edge of the world feel. It’s full of broken docks, listing boats, tumbledown buildings, gaping parking lots, and half closed fish restaurants streaked with gull droppings. Yet it’s in a magnificent position, full of unkept promise, staring across the Bosporus at its counterpoint, the much more alive feeling Anadolu Kavagi. Despite its decrepitude, despite its cracks, I have a strange hope for this place. I can imagine how it might be one day. There’s something waiting in this seaside village,…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    Breakfast of Pashas: Emek Cafe

    Breakfast on the Bosporus is a sure way to start off the day feeling like a Pasha. One of my favorite spots lately is Emek Cafe, one block north of Yeniköy Iskelesi. The tea is kept fresh, the service is classic white shirt professional, and the food simple, unfussy but good. It’s the sea-side atmosphere and neighborhood charm that elevates the experience. Then there’s the menemen, perhaps one of Turkey’s finest breakfast offerings, eggs cooked up in a sauté of tomato and green pepper. You simply can’t go wrong if you want something savory. If your taste runs sweet, then there’s always bal-kaymak (honey-cream). Turkish honey is deservedly famous, with a pure uncluttered taste. Paired with another Turkish specialty, kaymak—somewhat like clotted cream—and served on the thick fluffy wedges of bread, it’s like something out of a dream. As always for me, though, the starring duo of the morning, is the…