Istanbul is Turkey’s most populous city, and also its cultural and financial centre. It is the nation’s largest city, and the fifth largest city-proper in the world. Located on both sides of the Bosphorus, the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, Istanbul bridges Asia and Europe both physically and culturally.

At anytime of the year, Istanbul is a photographer’s dream. It offers one of the richest cultures in the world. It is an architecturally diverse city where the culture and history of the Orient and the Middle East connects directly with the modern, western culture of Europe. With a population of between 12 and 19 million people, the city is filled with activities and action all day long. Locals crowd the streets everyday, and there is never a shortage of subjects. Istanbul is also a city where the citizens are in general very open to being photographed, and where there has been a very rich past and present photographic culture.

On my last day in Turkey, I had a chance to take a peek at Taksim Square, the most known modern city center of Istanbul. A visit to Taksim Square is a must for any visit to Istanbul. At the centre of the Square is the Independence Monument (Istiklal Aniti in Turkish which commemorates the formation of the Turkish Republic) – standing at the beginning of Istiklal pedestrian street. Taksim Square is a major shopping, tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops and hotels. I spent an afternoon exploring down the Istiklal pedestrian street (off Taksim Square), and it appears to me as the busiest street in Istanbul, filled mostly with young people. Along the long pedestrian shopping street runs a nostalgic tram (a charming and historic red tram car) that stretches between Taksim Square and Tunel Square. The trams are small and cannot hold many passengers, and are often full. The ride is also relatively slow, and the local kids had a great time climbing up on the rear of the moving tram for fun. The street just does not know how to get less crowded, with locals pouring in as the evening sets in. As I walked down the street, subjects just present themselves endlessly. There are many interesting people, and the place is filled with character.

It is such a visually charming city and a paradise for street photography. At the end of the evening, I wished I had more time there to really dwell deeper to feel and taste the essence of the place. There is simply so much to see and do in this city embodying the most exciting and interesting geo-political and cultural intersections of Eastern and Western life. The charm of the city has definitely sealed my decision to return to Istanbul again in the near future. Here are some random street photographs taken during my day in Istanbul, in particularly Taksim Square.

I had also put together another series of street photographs in monochrome (black and white) over here.

All photographs taken with Leica M9 (50mm Summicron)

Link to Series 2: A Day in Istanbul (Series 2 – Monochrome)

~Photography & Edited by Chia Loy Chuan (September, 2011)~

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Rod Andrewartha - 6 October, 2011 - 1:43 PM

Loy – great sharing the journey with you in Cambodia and thanks for showing me your websites. Great photography.

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