I’m not much good at portraits. I don’t want to keep the person in front of the lens waiting for any longer than necessary. I feel uncomfortable, that I am somehow objectifying them the longer I keep them waiting, the more I persist in getting a “better shot”. So usually, in my awkwardness but eagerness to have a picture, I only manage one frame.
And here is one. We never exchanged names.
She invited me into her home, so that I could take photographs of the ramshackle courtyard with the traditional stone work. The old house was divided up by three families. She wanted desperately to move out, and spoke of how it was not possible to use the courtyard for cooking or washing carpets or enjoying tea, as her neighbours had no neighbourly feeling. But the influx of Syrians had increased rents beyond any affordable measure for her. He husband worked in construction and was away in Erbil for two or three months at a time. Her eldest son was unemployed, her elderly mother’s health was ailing. She insistently offered me breakfast; I only accepted tea.
When I asked if I may take her photograph, she was surprised and a little embarrassed: “A photo? Of me? Looking like this?”
I think she looks beautiful.
Another nightmare. Again about betrayal. It has been four months of this, and I don’t know when my dreams going to come back.
I don’t want to write down my nightmares. I am not sure how to describe this acute sense of betrayal in words. I don’t think it is a skill I want to learn. I don’t want to be able to go back and read over it. Where pens fail, cameras come in. So here is a self-portrait. I took several in quick succession with the timer. I’m caught here, mid-rubbing my face. I have not felt this vulnerable in a long time.
Lately, I’ve been digitizing the 1994 photographic survey of the Lower City church for my father. I like handling old photos and trying to decipher the notes written on the back. The colour quality of analog printing is always lovely.
Photographs of French special forces soldier killed during in an operation to save a French Intelligence Officer held hostage in Bulo Marer, Somalia. My first thought seeing these images - I hope who ever loved him does not see him like this.
Then a cascade of thoughts:
- The English of this tweeter feed is very fluent.
- The body does not appear to be desecrated in any way.
- Is it ever appropriate to share and distribute such images?
- On regarding the pain of others*
- “A return of the crusades, but the cross could not save him from the sword” is nearly poetic.
- Death and photography, photography and death: always so closely linked.
- He looks young.
- The smell of blood carries very far into the future.
For about five month in 2010, I lived in the Tarlabaşı district of Istanbul. It is only 5 minutes walk from the Galatasaray Lycée and 7 minutes from Taksim square. The area is currently undergoing an aggressive gentrification process. When I was there, it was the ghetto. Whenever I told someone, especially a born and bred İstanbullu, the shock and horror expressed was always the same.
A short synopsis of what I saw: drug dealers, mice, transvestites, drug users, big rats, sexual acts, poverty, scorpions, police barricades, gunshots, cockroaches, extreme poverty, violence against women and community.
Yes, community. They looked out for me. One morning I woke up to find someone had put flowers on my window sill. I have no idea why, but it was surreal and wonderful to wake up to.