Istanbul is fascinating, vibrant and exotic. Everything I have expected, but so much more – and it can’t be properly described or photographed. You have to breath it, smell it, taste it, and reach out and touch it. It is unlike any other city I have visited, and like a small child that learns to dog paddle in the shallows – I am now way over my head in the deep dark water with hundreds of feet of cultural and historical black ocean under my feet. In the morning I’ll be leaving this wondrous place that I have learned to love in such a short time.
As a non-religious person (I have no dog in the fight) I find the Muslim “call to prayer” a very interesting experience. Typically in films, the very first shot you see in just about every movie is what they call an “establishing shot”. You get a shot of the countryside, the landscape, or a city and music (simply to let the viewer know where the story will be told), and then it normally cuts to the main actor/actress and the opening scene. If you think of just about any James Bond film, you’d see a long distance shot of the city under soft daybreak light with a subtitle that says “Istanbul” in the corner with call to prayer music to set the feeling – and then the action starts.
Istanbul has 3,113 mosques – so the call to prayer is a cacophonous experience. Loudspeakers blare to life before daybreak – some live, others recorded – some crystal clear, others tinny and flat. They all overlap and yet you can hear each Mosque with its distinct clarion call.
As a traveler and photographer my life is visual – so I expect to throw open my hotel room blinds in Paris and see the Eiffel Tower. I want to tell my story with images and hope that the people who see my photographs will live the story though my eyes as omniscient observers. In Istanbul, my experience has not only been visual – it has been auditory, and I find the first prayer call of the morning to be a heady and rich moment. As the early sun touches the Bosphorus and I reach for my first my first cup of coffee I know that the call to prayer will accompany my initial view of the city. It cheers me greatly to know that millions of people will feel comfort in that call – and it adds to the moment in a fashion that you can only experience by being here. There is no other way. –Christian DeBaun, Istanbul, November 2013