The Istanbul Story

It’s been a hectic week, but it was also one of the best times I’ve ever had. In Istanbul. We flew in on Saturday, a day before the start of the Foundry Photjournalism Workshop held on the Asian side of this city of 12 million people, and for the next nine days we travelled from Europe to Asia and back at least once a day. The workshop had about 150 students that were all searching for stories in Istanbul. And there’s a lot of them, just not enough time to develop them properly, and when access is concerned, well, it’s a lottery. But a lot of good stuff was produced in those six days of the workshop.

Foundry Photojournalism Workshop tuition winners take a group photo before the official kick off
Welcoming speeches.

Matej and I kind of took a chance and went for the same story through two different styles. Feeling free to do it my way, I again went for my “Bora sytle”. We boarded two small fishing boats on the Marmara sea. Two fishermen on Matej’s boat, three on mine, which was smaller. And therefore it rocked more. Which means all the kebabs were really dancing inside my stomack and mixed with the afternoon sun and the indestructable smell of fish on the boat they showed me what being seasick is like. Not enough to throw up, though (you know where I’m from, no food goes to waste!). After an hour or so I was fine, and ready for the night. Yap, we left the dock at about four p.m. and returned at about six in the morning. (But more on that in some other post).

The crew (and me :)) of my very small boat.
Ferry to Asia and back, every day, sometimes twice.

We came back to the hostel, went to sleep, and woke up at around noon to see an sms from Slovenia: “Are you OK? Bomb blast in Istanbul.” Ten minutes later, we were in a taxi, rushing toward Halikli district to cover the bomb site happening. A bus was attacked using a roadside IED, four people died.

The weather didn’t really help in getting us on a boat once again to try do even better than we did the first night. Fishermen, who bytheway don’t speak a word of English, cancelled on Wednesday, so we ended up in our favorite Kadiköy bar watching Slovenia-England match (we know how that ended…) with our good friend photographer/fixer from Istanbul (can’t thank him enough for all the help and good time we had this week). In fact, the World Cup was a very important activity :). And when you watch it with a hardcore football fan from Brazil ;), haha, well, it’s really fun! 🙂

David Bathgate, Jared Moossy and Rena Effendi at the opening of Ron Haviv's exhibition.
Ron Haviv, Adriana Zehbrauskas and Jon Vidar

The week ended in some spare time on Sunday to stroll around the city, around the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, The Grand Bazaar, down to Galata bridge, over it to the Galata tower, onto Istiklal Street, where we had something to eat, watched the first half of Germans beating the crap out of the English in South Africa, then joined (as photographers!) a crowd of gays, lesbians and transsexuals parading down Istiklal.

There’s a lot to say about this week, but the bottom line is it was a success. A big success. Everybody was great, the instructors at the workshop, students… Jared (my mentor) is really cool, Ron, who made this all possible, is of course cool as well, and that’s why he’s wearing a scarf and a hat in 35 degrees celsius. 🙂 One strange thing: the week was also all about making fun of scarfs, but we all wore them, bought some more on discount etc. Ron’s students were actually getting more Ron-like with each day, hahaha. It’s a process I tend to call “Ronification”. 🙂

And now I’m back in … well, nowhere. I would say “back in the shithole”, which is how you know I like to make my entrance back into Slovenia, but it’s getting stale. The only way I can compare last week and Slovenia is that it’s like coming to a full stop after riding a rocket. Better get used to it fast…


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