Pictures of strangers

People watching Aya Sofya _

When I was a child, my mother always said that she enjoyed watching the people at the zoo more than the animals. I have inherited her tendencies. While touring historic sites is intrinsically interesting, observing other people touring historic sites is a guilty delight! (And one that I liberally indulged in while in Istanbul.)

The woman dressed in all-orange at Aya Sofya (above) drew my eye immediately. Can you see her shimmery crystal hair clips? Have you noticed that her backpack is the exact same shade of orange as her winter suit? Watching her was interesting. Watching every single other person in Aya Sofya watch her, was fascinating.

I not only people-watched my way through Istanbul, I also started taking pictures of other people taking pictures. Partially this is due to me having a new fab camera that allows me to “shoot from the hip” using a swivel LCD screen. Partially this is because I fancy myself an amateur anthropologist of global humanity (like Jane Goodall with the chimps, only I don’t go deep enough to pick out ticks).

With little useful news on my “where next?” expat question, I instead present my odd gallery of photographs of strangers taking photographs in Istanbul. Are you serendipitously featured? Do tell!

Videoing lamb in clay pot presentation

Stranger taking a picture of the “lamb in clay pot” table-side presentation at our table (buy your own “signature” lamb dish freeloader!)

Posing in front of tram

Stranger striking a bold pose in front of the tram to Taksim

Taking a selfie  in Aya Sofya

Stranger taking a selfie in Aya Sofya

Woman smiling for photo in Blue Mosque.

Stranger smiling for photo in Blue Mosque

Boy taking family picture in Blue Mosque

Stranger taking family picture in Blue Mosque

Taking a picture of Jesus in Aya Sofya

Stranger taking a picture of Jesus in Aya Sofya

Taking a picture of a friend in Aya Sofya

Stranger taking a picture of a friend in Aya Sofya

25 responses to “Pictures of strangers

  1. There is something great about tourist watching. People complain about popular sights because they’re too crowded without realising this special joy.

    Mainly, though, I just want one of those orange jumpsuits, and wanted to ask you if the woman in question finds herself and replies, can you ask her for me if we can do a deal on it? I presume she rarely wears outfits more than once, so it’s probably up for grabs by now. I’d hold out for a yellow one with black stripes but I don’t want to send the wrong message.

    It’s hard to tell sometimes so let me emphasise that I genuinely do like the orange jumpsuit and I’m just wondering if I’m young enough to get away with it still.

  2. I frequently want to take pictures of strangers doing stuff but feel a little uncomfortable about it. My sense is that, since I only have a small point-n-shoot, it’s somehow more intrusive. People walking around with those big SLRs hanging from their bodies come across as “real” photographers and no one seems to mind when they squat in weird positions to capture groups of ppl engaged in some activity.

    Am I paranoid, or is this a thing? I have lots of awkward photos of people glaring at me that I attribute to this, but it could just be they don’t like the look of me.

    • The best part about taking pictures of tourists in tourist sites, is that everyone has their camera out and is busily gapping at everything. Hence it’s extremely easy to take their photographs without them even noticing.

      On a day-to-day basis, I am just as chicken as you.

  3. Jen, during your last visit to the mainland, did you notice anyone trying to sneak in a shot of you? Bonus points if they were doing it where there were also “no photo” signs, such as in immigration halls or museums.

    • I’ve never noticed anyone trying to take a sly pic of me in the Mainland. But folks in (or from) the Mainland are always trying to take pictures of my kids. Sometimes they ask, sometimes they just boldly take them and sometimes they try to sneak. Can’t think if it happening in immigration halls. It doesn’t bother me, but it drives my 7 year old daughter insane. She generally runs from them or hides her head under her jacket.

  4. Haha! Love it! The orange suit was fantastic. My mom always told me that people looked like animals. She could sit for hours in a zoo or mall to try to identify what different people looked like!

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