Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sevket Sahintas - Capturing Istanbul's Underbelly

Sevket Sahintas is a self-taught photographer and cabbie by night in Instanbul Turkey from midnight until dawn. Sahintas, who began driving a taxi when he was 19, said he started taking photos five years ago when he began working the night shift. His work highlights the huge income gap in Turkish society. Even though the Turkish economy enjoyed steady growth for much of the past decade, the latest government statistics show that nearly one in five Turks live below the poverty line. During the past year, the economic crisis pummeled Turkey's export-driven industries, pushing unemployment to record highs.

"I like to capture those contradictions," he said. "Happy smiling people on the ad boards beside that unhappy person who is trying to sleep. I want the happy people to see that minority and do something about it." Sahintas also takes black-and-white portraits of the other characters who roam Istanbul's streets at night: dirty street children, garbage pickers, transvestite prostitutes.

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