Erol Bey

Out of the 10 years I lived in Istanbul from 2004 to 2014, I stayed 8 years in various flats and bedsits in a bohemian hip neigbourhood called Cihangir. Well, that’s not quite true: I was actually living in the poorer part of it, Firuzaga, which at the time was not yet gentrified. The trendy coffee places hadn’t started creeping in yet, but everybody living in Firuzaga would say « I live in Cihangir » for simplicity and effect.
There was living an old taylor named Erol, with who I had chatted a couple of times (he was a keen francophone). At the time, I was attending a photography workshop in IFSAK with Dora Günel on narrative photography and Erol Bey was kind enough to accept me and my camera in his tiny shop.
I went to see him a couple of times afterwards, to have some clothes mended (a leather jacket that gave him some trouble, a pair of trousers) and then I didn’t go for a while as I had moved a bit further from this neighbourhood.
At some point in Summer 2014, I asked the shopkeepers opposite why his shop was closed and was shocked to learn that Erol Bey had died a couple of months before. I thought I should maybe try to find his relatives and give them some prints, but didn’t do any of it, because I was not convinced it made any sense at all, or maybe I just made excuses.
It was the first time someone I’d photographed died and the photos were all that was left.

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