Back to the future in Istanbul

Disenchanted with blindly snapping away when you travel and then having your hundreds of images sit on a memory card for eternity? Well, our Tim Flatley fells the same and he shares his perspective on the conundrum.

Recently in our London office we were shown the short-list for the On The Go photography competition. As ever, the entrants were of a fantastic standard. But what I was most impressed with is people who take the time to actually do anything with their travel photos after their trip has long expired.

Typically, I post a few photos on Facebook, or send a few on emails to my parents so they know I am still alive, but following that they sit gathering dust somewhere on my computer’s hard drive. (It’s special invisible computer dust. If you are not an IT expert like myself you probably won’t understand). They rarely get looked at ever again, let alone edited, printed and put on display anywhere. I blame technology. (Before I go any further, I realise the irony of airing my grievances with technology on an internet blog, so please don’t point that out.)

It has become the norm that instead of 24 or 36 essential holiday photos, we now return with hundreds. The obsession to record every moment of a trip is removing people from enjoying the moment whilst they are living it. The importance of each memory is diminishing with each extra photo. (Math boffins can google; ‘Tim’s curve of photographical significance’, where they may or may not find more information on this important theory).

With this in mind, on a recent trip to Turkey, I left the memory card at home and armed myself with a cheap film camera. (For the kids in the audience, you may have to google; ‘Film’). Istanbul is one of those special cities that regardless of your photography talent, or lack thereof, you are bound to get a few very special photos. Sitting on the borders of Europe and Asia, it has a combination of sights, sounds and smells that are unique in my experience.

I found that with fewer shots available to me, I chose my subjects far more carefully and, a couple of inevitable blurry shots aside, was very happy with the results. There is a kind of old world charm in not knowing what you have captured on film until you hold the prints in your hands, returning with them a flood of memories and nostalgia, which pushes me to go and do it all again.

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