HomeREADERSArt & CultureIMAGES OF TURKEY Photography


Copyright by Levent Ağaoğlu, 1975

Video on Black&White Turkey in 1975:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1iYpuFys8g

1974-75 years 118 black and white photographs
Turkish English photo captions

Within the scope of street photography, shedding light on daily life in Istanbul.

Culture, history, identity, society, people and humanity. Reality and future. Naturalness and true wealth. Our treasures that we can leave from today to tomorrow…

Turkey (Anatolia, Asia Minor) has produced cultures and civilizations for 12,000 years since the Neolithic. However, books published in English on Turkey are very limited. Foreigners cannot find books or publications about Turkey. There is no database even.

The Turkey of the 1970s can be viewed through the youth of the world’s 1968 generation movement. It is a more untouched period in the cold war and bipolar world order when archeology even was not fully active.

Let’s look at these places today from the perspective of 2022 and try to understand a global  transformation story by comparing old photographs and today.

The photographs I took half a century ago in Istanbul Fatih, on the historical peninsula and in ancient cities such as Troy, Bergama, Ephesus, Didim, in the Aegean, shed light on our day. The permanence of ancient cities, which have not changed for thousands of years, clad in silence and solitude, and the sharp and striking change in the time period of 50 years in the city of Istanbul, occur together before our eyes and extend to us from the beginning years of the 21st century. The ancient cities we visited on the Aegean coast were living their heyday when Istanbul was not yet in the middle.

Despite the magnificence of Istanbul’s historical buildings, the poverty and deprivation observed in the 1975 photographs raise questions about whether human welfare or magnificent stone structures are permanent. The ruined historical wooden structures seen in the photographs were quickly destroyed and left their places to reinforced concrete structures. The apartment building fashion, which started in the mid-1950s, has rapidly changed the face of the city in 20 years.

I have been trying to convey the world reflected by the photographs and our impressions with subtitles.

I was born in Fatih district of Istanbul that is the core of İstanbul and Fatih is the historical peninsula surrounded by castles totally from the Golden Horn and Marmara Sea around. All the famous districts are scattered in Fatih. The feelings you have in the Fatih area is very unique and special and if you’re in the area you feel that it is the center of the world, not only with the center of the world because the empires Roman empire after Constantin set up in 395 and Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1453 was all controlled from Fatih district of Istanbul.

In 1974 I bought a Russian Zorki camera for black-and-white photographs and started first from Fatih and then proceeded to Western historical antique locations in the Aegean region, because of my involvement with the touristic guide course. I started from the roads and streets of Fatih, the old town, 45 years ago and got the photos of ordinary people, elderly, youngsters, children and the historical buildings and the wooden buildings in that part of the city.

These are straight black and white photographies and meaningful to show us the past of the historical Peninsula.

Maybe the individuals on the photographs, the elderly ones, may not be living now, so we can analyze the conditions of the time just after the war happened in Cyprus and Turkey started to be entering into street movements with guns which lead to the country to military coup in 12 September 1980. The photographs also reflect the property in the streets of İstanbul at the time though the buildings are very old and rich in history, the people are not that much. Here is the most conservative part of the İstanbul.

Following taking photographs of Fatih and downtown İstanbul, I moved to Western Turkey passing through Dardanel Straight snd visiting antique cities like Troy, Pergamon, Smyrna, Priene, Ephesus, Didyma, which are older than Istanbul clty, so taking the photos of these archaeological theaters and worship buildings.

These precious, beautiful and very interesting nostalgic photographs make you take a journey into the past in the face of Turkey’s old times and historical change. Everyone who sees these photos has an indescribable sense of relief. It is obvious that the paintings have a peaceful side. However, these pictures not only give peace of mind, but also lead people to deep contemplation. These frames that take us to the past guide us in building our future.

However, the real good memories experienced in these photographs, the values and beauties that people return and lose, almost hit the face like a slap. These frames, taken in different cities of Turkey, almost bring time to life. The value of these photographs, which blow love into the human soul like poetry, should be known.

These images, through a single lens, present us with the streets of Istanbul, the walls, clothing analysis and historical textures of the period, which we witness by reaching out to the 1970s of Istanbul, always presenting us those beautiful days and the states of our unique life culture in daily life.





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