A place where legendary and epic battles took place, fighting over what was conceived as the entry point and most strategic region between Europe and Asia. Istanbul has witnessed the woes and foes of civilization, even to this day, it still suffers from political and social crises, nevertheless, it holds as one of the most attractive and compelling places ever to exist, discover and photograph with a multitude of cultural treasures. The city can offer everything for anyone, considering how the planning of the city has been studied for ages, it has a complex yet thorough transport system, helping citizens and tourists cross the Bosphorus, and lead them from downtown to the outskirts. Many faces, religions and beliefs overlap in this amazing city, and French photographer Igor Males has documented it out of pure passion and curiosity. Armed with his Leica M6, his black and white images tell a story of the beautiful complexity this city holds.
My name is Igor Males and I started to take pictures in 2005. I was born in France and currently live here but my family comes from former Yugoslavia, city of Split, to be more precise. Large areas of the Balkans were part of the great Ottoman Empire. At that time, Istanbul was the most influential city of the world and also the gate to deep Orient. I felt natural to start the journey in Istanbul, cross the several countries of the region and go west until Trieste, in Italy, which for me is the gate to the western world. It don’t feel like I’m in a hurry so this road could take many years.
Istanbul is a huge city of 14 million, increasing everyday, sometimes I felt like I suffocate in this mass but it’s easy to get lost and feel alone and that’s what I loved in the quarters like Balat or Fener. It’s difficult for me, a French guy to describe my feeling for this city, a mixed feeling of what we call “envoûtement” for the atmosphere, interest for their rich history and love for Turkish people but also fears of drama that is happening in the country with the Syrian refugees, the struggle with Kurds and the recent ISIS threats.
I can tell, than it’s easy to carry a camera in Istanbul, unlike some other cities in the world where there’s more suspicion in people’s eyes.
All the pictures were taken with a Leica M6 and a 28mm Elmarit version 3, and Tri-X film. A combination that I have used for several years. This camera is a tank, solid, reliable. The shutter is fully mechanical, like all M cameras before M6. No matter if you’re out of battery, it will still work. Nothing else than the essential: speed, focus and aperture.
My eyes were “educated” by photographers like Klavdij Sluban, Bernard Plossu, Fouad Elkoury and Stanley Greene. Recently, I found great sources of inspiration in works of Jing Huang, Ben Molina and Ljubisa Danilovic. Exception with Plossu and his faithful Nikkormat, I found that all theses guys that blew my mind used Leica M cameras.
To know more about Igor Males’ work, please visit his official website.