The first week of my 6 month Erasmus exchange in Istanbul, I made a picture of this toilet man. He was sitting in his office all day long and collected money from everyone who wanted to make use of the toilet. I had to go to the toilet as well and I directly fell in love with his little and fully packed office. After my toilet visit I went back to ask if I could make a picture. He said yes and I could see he felt a little proud. After the picture he offered me a çay. This was the beginning of a interesting photo project, Faces of Istanbul.
For this project I’ve been focusing on small shops in Istanbul and especially those in Kadikoy, the neighborhood I lived on the Asian side. These small shops are often owned by one man who has been working there all his life.
This is Nurretin Polat, 70 years old. He has been working in this tailer shop for 42 years.
Old Turkish men have style. They are dressed well with a nice suit and a fitting shirt. Sometimes a head, a tie, or a jaquette and of course their charismatic moustache.
This is Mutsen Atmaca, 76 years old. He has been working since he was 16 years old and he has been working in this toyshop for 31 years.
The bakery man.
It took a while for me to shoot this picture because the guy was a little camera shy. But in the end I managed to take a natural funny picture. Like I did with almost all persons, I came back to give him a photo copy.
This is Hasan Costum, 50 years old. A Bouzouki (mandoline) maker.
When I came back to give him his photo, there were three girls in his workplace. I sat down and they gave me some watermelon. With the little Turkish I speak, I could understand that Hasan was a teacher as well. The girls were his students. 22 hours of the week he is teaching on a school and the rest of the time he is working in his workplace. None of the girls could play the bouzouki unfortunately. They asked me if I played a music instrument and the next minute I was playing guitar. I sang a song for them and after that I made this picture with the teacher holding the first picture and his students. ‘Güle güle, arkadasim’ (‘good bye my friend’) he said and I left with a smile.
This is Kenan Kartal, 50 years old. He had been working in this press shop since he was 17 years old. This was the first time I managed to explain the goal of my photo project in Turkish. With the raise of big supermarkets and shopping centres in Turkey, the small shop have a harder time to exist. Sometimes they’re not able to compete against the big firms and they have to shut down their shop. That’s a big shame because these little shops are full of charm and their service is really warm and personal.
The shoe repair shop. Names unknown.
I really enjoyed doing this project. I made a lot of friends in my neighborhood Kadikoy using my camera. Even more then I have in my neighborhood in Amsterdam. It was great to get closer to the people and every single person I photographed, was more than happy to cooperate in this project.