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Istanbul Style by the Bosphorus

By Joanna Nikas

 
Devin Yalkin
 

“There is such vibrant energy in Istanbul, regardless of the political climate,” photographer Devin Yalkin said.

His parents met in Nisantasi, a district on the European side. They lived across the street from each other, and when they were in their mid-20s, his father asked his mother out on a date through the window of their apartments. Ultimately they immigrated to America and Yalkin was born in Manhattan. Turkey, he said, is “always a really interesting place for me to be, because I see it as a place that I could have grown up in if my parents had decided to stay.”

Yalkin tries to return at least once a year, visiting the area where his parents met, going back to Buyukada, an island off the mainland where he used to vacation as a child, and hanging out by the Bosporus.

“I’ve seen both progression and regression in terms of politics, in terms of style, in terms of the arts,” he said of his visits over the past decade. This time he was back to shoot street style.

“When it comes to style in Istanbul, it’s such a convergence of two worlds, old and new,” he said. “You have these younger generations shining stylistically, in terms of what they want to wear, even if it’s trending or not.” The older generations “keep things kind of traditional and classy — it’s such a beautiful dichotomy.”

Devin Yalkin
 

This photograph was taken in the Karakoy district, known for its hip cafés, bars and galleries. “Coming from Brooklyn and seeing people within my age realm, kind of stylish, was nice to see in Istanbul because you see similarities between the cultures,” Mr. Yalkin said.

Devin Yalkin
 

“My favorite thing about being in Istanbul is the fact that a lot of life happens on the water,” Mr. Yalkin said. “Whether you live or work near it, lots of people gravitate toward the Bosporus.” In this case, a fisherman’s boat was feeding sea gulls about 30 feet off the dock, or “iskele,” where people were waiting for a commuter boat. “It was kind of like a ‘Birds’ moment for me. The scene had a Hitchcock sensibility to it.”

Devin Yalkin
 

For anyone who has visited Istanbul, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the stray cats and dogs that roam the streets. This animal was a bit of an opportunist, waiting for scraps on the ledge of a kebab restaurant. “It just struck me as a very Istanbul moment to have the Galata Tower in the background, the bridge, the Bosporus, and then you see one of Istanbul’s most bountiful inhabitants, the cat,” Mr. Yalkin said. “I always come back with a cat photo or two.”

Devin Yalkin
 

In Istanbul you hear the call to prayer five times a day. “The mosques can only hold so many people, so you see people who are praying pouring out to the street,” he said. This man was wearing a religious throbe worn by many African men.

Devin Yalkin
 

This man, who was at a kebab shop with his equally well-dressed friend, reminded Mr. Yalkin of people he saw in his parents’ and grandparents’ photographs. “The Turkish word is ‘efendi,’ which is like ‘a gentleman,’” he said of the men. As for the man’s abundant mustache? “It’s pretty cultural — religious and nonreligious men both have mustaches. My father had one, his brother had one, my grandfather.”

Devin Yalkin
 

“Every time I go back to Istanbul I see more and more conservatives, and more and more people covering themselves,” the photographer said. This woman wasn’t particularly religious, though she did dress modestly and wore a head scarf. Mr. Yalkin liked the form that the clothing took as she was readjusting herself in the wind. “It didn’t seem like it was a person who was under there,” he said. “It just seemed like this clothing stuck in space.”

Devin Yalkin
 

It’s not every day that the photographer sees a man treating his goat as he would a dog. But when he did see it out the corner of his eye while riding the bus toward Karakoy, he jumped off to take a photograph. “Istanbul is just full of these quirky coincidences and encounters, all very ephemeral,” Mr. Yalkin said.

Devin Yalkin
 

This young man’s bomber jacket, cap and sneakers reminded Mr. Yalkin of a look he would see in Brooklyn, where he lives. “You see that a lot, what we have here trendwise is comparable to what they have going on there,” he said. “Even being on the Bosporus, this could be in New York for all we know.”

Devin Yalkin
 

The photographer was walking in the Sisli neighborhood when he noticed a group of very dapper men and stylish women congregated outside a residential building that had inlets of small stores. He met a man named Samuel Okey, who had moved to Istanbul from Nigeria two years ago and worked in shipping. Mr. Okey told him they were gathered for church services that were held on the fourth floor. Here, Henri Achi, who was also attending the services, was standing in the entrance of the building.

Devin Yalkin
 

This is a bus line in Istanbul. The photographer liked the frame and was also drawn to the stylish woman wearing a hijab. “I think fashion is one of the ways” that religious women express “their own taste,” he said.

Devin Yalkin
 

“Istanbul, like New York, is such a fast-paced city,” Mr. Yalkin said of this photograph. The man in the middle carrying an instrument stood out to him in this sea of people. “He just seemed strikingly different than those surrounding him,” he said.

Devin Yalkin
 

Commuter boats take people back and forth from the European side to the Asian side of the city. “It’s my preferred mode of transportation in Istanbul,” Mr. Yalkin said. “You have the Bosporus, and there is really nothing better.”

Devin Yalkin
 

This photo was also taken in the Karakoy district, where Mr. Yalkin spent a lot of his time. “I just like that he was kind of hidden under this tree,” he said. “There is something to me that it was kind of an off moment that I was attracted to.”

Devin Yalkin
 

This photo was taken on Buyukada, where, as a child, Mr. Yalkin would walk the boardwalk eating ice cream and lokma, a Turkish fried dough dessert. “It just reminds me of a time and a place and it’s super nostalgic for me,” he said. “When I saw this, I was like, this is childhood right here.”

Devin Yalkin
 

This man works at a nearby shop selling fishing gear. “It just was funny to me because there are a bunch of anchors surrounding him,” Mr. Yalkin said. “It kind of looked like a trap.”

Devin Yalkin
 

“The Bosporus is where everyone tends to congregate, and whether you want to be alone or hang out in a group of friends,” Mr. Yalkin said. “It’s a place that pulls you in. So much of Istanbul happens on the water.”

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