jump to navigation

Ton Koene March 11, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Turkey.

Istanbul, 2012

Ton Koene (b. 1963, Netherlands) holds a degree in Humanitarian practice from Oxford University. After graduation, he worked for sixteen years (1989-2006) for Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), primarily as Head of Mission in twelve conflict areas including Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Angola and Sudan. In 2006, he resigned from MSF and began working as a freelance photojournalist. He has covered prostitution in Nigeria, coal mining in Bulgaria, malnutrition in Somalia, Genocide in Darfur, the Inuits of the North Pole and police training in Afghanistan. Ton has produced five photo books and one textbook. He is based in Afghanistan and freelances with De Volkskrant. In 2012 he won the World Press Photo award for his Afghan police portraits.

About the Photograph:

“I was on assignment for the travel magazine TRVL to shoot a photo documentary on Istanbul. Each neighborhood has its own character. There is the eastern and more boring site across the Bosporus. There is the touristic center where you can photograph the diversity of people hanging around, all buying the same useless souvenirs.  But there are also many local areas across the city where tourists don’t go because they feel uncomfortable with these unknown areas. They are scared to leave their safe touristic habitat. These are the living quarters of average Turkish families. In the evening, when the sun goes down and the city cools down, families gather outside in front of their houses to chat, smoke and laugh. This picture was taken in one of these neighborhoods. A mother is playing a ball game with her kids, the mullah was praying in the mosque which you can see in the background, people relax in front of the houses and share the latest urban gossip. There wasn’t much light beside the yellow streetlight but it was enough. This is the real Istanbul when you go off the well know path and let yourself be surprised with the unknown.”