17th June 2017

Deciding where to fly on my birthday predictably became an obsessive game of pros and cons. After narrowing it down to Iceland and Istanbul I begun the research. Both offered equally opposing possibilities. Exploring a lively, character filled city ridden with history and culture. Istanbul offered a more social option and getting out of the city to hike and explore Cappadocia. Alternatively renting a wagon for myself and spending some much needed time alone to think, breathe, reflect and slow down in Iceland felt like a dream. Settling on Istanbul for the most practical of reasons (time and money) I knew either way it would be an escape which despite all the travelling I’ve been doing felt appealing.

A pleasant 4-hour flight later trying to contemplate how the hell I’ve lived 32 years left me feeling a little numb and anxious.

Other tales will come but the images are from an escape whilst roaming away from Istanbul. This was day two on the motorbike exploring the local towns. I was now used to the speed and joy of zipping along the roads surrounded by beautiful rocks formations and vast landscapes. Realising our initial destination would consume the day we headed elsewhere a little disappointed but enjoying ourselves.

We turned onto an alluring woodland path and a dinky elderly man holding a book of weathered tickets asked us for two Liras to pass. Now even more curious we paid and entered what looked like a nature reserve. We soon drove across a dam and saw a few families dotted along a large lake. Steaming bbq’s and children playing lined the ridge of the water. We hopped off to explore. I choose my family. We managed to have a relaxed conversation. They were kind, calm and hospitable. The people I met in general in Istanbul seemed incredibly warm, always eager to help or host.

I asked to shoot a few pictures and focussed mainly on this gent and occasionally turned to capture another family by the waters edge. In between an impromptu game of volleyball with their daughter Nisa, I watched as he tendered the fire with patience. Swamped by the trees and smoke the scene seduced me. After a few frames we sat down to toast the tea he kindly offered us before throwing a bag full of meat onto the bbq and insisting we join.

Oao x