The Istanbul in Elja’s Head

Picture by ©Elja Daae

Istanbul tea vendor

After two days of a photography workshop with a world-renowned photographer, I have to acknowledge: Art requires expertise.
A photographer like him manages to look at 450 pictures in 20 minutes and in that time determines: 1) which photos need cropping for a better result; 2) your specific signature, style so to speak, and 3) which ones to add to your portfolio.

So after my 20 minutes, Thatcher Cook hits me right in the core of my heart – after selecting and reorganising a series of my photographs – when he described them as “The Istanbul in my head”. He continued: “A rather heavy place, quite gloomy, but beautiful”.

And so it is. I experience Istanbul as a beautiful city, full of the most amazing things. But at the same time it seems a burdened city, a dirty city, a city where life is hard and gloomy at times.  Americans call it grittyness.

Istanbul is full of entrepreneurs, from shopping malls and bazaars to restaurants. And there is the beautiful Bosphorus.
Istanbul breaths history. From museums and old buildings and lively neighborhoods to mosques and bus boats. Istanbul ís history.

But there also is the dirt, the many homeless people, the Syrian refugees who live on the streets, the many buildings without roofs, where only (partial) walls still stand. Or worse, collapsing while people live inside. Plus tens of thousands of stray cats and dogs. And traffic, lots and lots of traffic.
And a lot of people…

Istanbul grabs you by your throat, pierces your heart. She tires you. Surprises you and sometimes demolishes you. Makes you despair while she captivates you.

The Istanbul in Elja’s head was published earlier in Dutch on Elja’s website: Istanboel in Elja’s hoofd
Elja Daae currently lives in Istanbul.