Digital Photo Magazine interviewed me about photographing Istanbul. What a treat to visit Istanbul, but to photograph this great city, too? Wow. Istanbul offers photo opportunities wherever you turn.
What was it about Istanbul that made you want to capture it on camera?
The Ottoman architecture of Istanbul, it’s minarets reaching to the heavens, the colourful spice market, Grand Bazaar presented a vivid image in my mind. Hypothetically, I had been photographing Istanbul even before I arrived. I had seen a myriad of photos while researching my trip and visualized how I would capture the various scenes differently. Once my feet hit the pavement, it seemed as if I had already visited the city, making my task of capturing the city on camera all the more easy. Additionally, having grown up in Tripoli, Libya, re-discovering the Islamic world has been high on my list. Istanbul has been only one stop with regard to this journey.
Istanbul is famous for its beautiful Ottoman architecture, such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and so on; artistically, do you think you did it justice?
Ottoman architecture is brilliant, isn’t it? The style completely captures my imagination, and there is a fairytale magical element I’ve not seen elsewhere. My eye is drawn towards curves, and lines, so Istanbul was ideal for me as a photographer. Hour upon hour I studied Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), Süleymaniye Mosque, Basilica Cistern following each curve and line. I have thousands of images I captured in Istanbul. My aim was to take the viewer on a journey with a different perspective. I’m confident I achieved this.
Moving on to the Hagia Sophia; with it being such an imposing building, did you find it a challenge to photograph?
Absolutely. With Hagia Sophia being so large, and the buildings around it, I found the square to have the best perspective. At night, Hagia Sophia glowed beautifully with its lights, and a fantastic reflection can be found in the fountain. While up close, I could capture particular architectural elements, but even with my 18mm super wide lens the entire structure could not be captured until I found myself in the square. I did walk the perimeter of Hagia Sophia numerous times to assure myself the best perspective had been found. At night Hagia Sofia is pure magic.
The Hagia Sophia has been home to both Eastern Christianity and Islam; do you think you managed to capture those historically spiritual elements?
Hagia Sophia is a feast for one’s eyes, with or without a camera. I vividly remember being awestruck upon entering the first time. The blend of Eastern Christianity and Islam is beautifully evident in this structure, and my camera worked overtime more than once. While I was well aware of the symbols before me, capturing each through my journey through this marvel, it was not until I viewed my images later that I knew each element had been covered. That said, I focused on the overall beauty rather than single out one element over another.
What were the significant differences in photographing Istanbul during the day and at night?
My preference is capturing any city during the night hours as their beauty shines far brighter to my eye during this time. Details in architecture are more pronounced against the night sky, the lights and motion of Istanbul make the city seem more vibrant and vivacious, yet the character stays the same. With fewer people walking the pavement, I can more easily “touch the soul” of a city during the night time hours, and my creative eye wakes up. Additionally, there is more of a challenge for me to capture urban areas with long exposures as rarely do I use a tripod, and I must discover ways to keep the camera steady as well as test various exposure times.