The Greatest Photographer Of Modern Istanbul, Ara Guler, Died On Oct. 17

His photos are beautiful.

Ara’s attentiveness to the inhabitants of Istanbul’s back streets — the fishermen sitting in coffee shops and mending their nets, the unemployed men getting inebriated in taverns, the children patching up car tires in the shadow of the city’s crumbling ancient walls, the construction crews, the railway workers, the boatmen pulling at their oars to ferry city folk from one shore of the Golden Horn to the other, the fruit sellers pushing their handcarts, the people milling about at dawn waiting for the Galata Bridge to open, the early-morning minibus drivers — is evidence of how he always expressed his attachment to the city through the people who live in it.

The crucial, defining characteristic of an Ara Guler photograph is the emotional correlation he draws between cityscapes and individuals.

These two are oddly familiar. The hill, the cobblestones, the houses bearing down, no street lamps. Maybe from a photo I saw as a child.

Concrete apartment houses have replaced the old wooden houses throughout Istanbul over the past two decades.Credit Ara Guler/Magnum Photos

And this one … What do you see? No refrigeration. Manual labor.

Porters at the Beyolglu market, 1954. CreditAra Guler/Magnum Photos

All of the photos tell a story. Perhaps that’s what makes a good photographer.

2 thoughts on “The Greatest Photographer Of Modern Istanbul, Ara Guler, Died On Oct. 17

  1. Marj

    Yes, each photo tells a story. And so memorable In black and white. Thank you for posting this. Also the owl is wonderful and the photographer’s website of many owl photos is too.

    Reply
  2. Bix Post author

    There’s this thing that happens for me. When I just look at the photos, they’re somewhat depressing … black and white and harder lives in times gone by. But when I put myself into the bodies of the people and feel what they might feel (I know, I can never, but still) the photos come alive. They have color and activity and some joy and some struggling. Anyway…

    Reply

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