School children prepare to perform a dance under a banner depicting Ataturk in Ankara, Turkey.
All state holidays in Turkey are marked by elementary school programs featuring various groups of children singing, reading poems, or performing dances (both modern and traditional). This first-grade class (including my son, who is not technically Turkish) delivered a spirited rendition of several folk songs and anthems in praise of Ataturk.
In the graveyard of the Lutheran church in Herre, Norway.
Here is my daughter standing in the doorway of the Great Hall at the Viking museum in Midgard, Norway. She was less than two at the time but I think she enjoyed it.
A little girl sits among Oriental carpets in a store in Ankara, Turkey.
“One city does not greet another, but one man greets another.”
– Sumerian proverb from Ur, c. 2000 B.C.
This proverb, quoted in Rory Stewart’s excellent book The Prince Of The Marshes, does a pretty good job of explaining how I think relationships are most genuinely formed on the international stage. In our case, we usually leave the greeting to our children. These pictures should give you an idea of the scene a year or so ago when we went on a walk with our kids through the historic Ulus neighborhood in downtown Ankara. Kaya is the little blonde two-year-old in the picture above; at that age he was still loving the attention and hadn’t gotten sick of it yet, whereas his older brother Moses (in the stroller below) was starting to develop some reservations. Perhaps it’s just a personality thing – international diplomacy can’t be every preschooler’s job.
This is just a candid shot of some children on their way home from school, past a carpet shop selling Turkish cicims and Uzbeki suzani tapestries in the old Ulus neighborhood of Ankara, Turkey.
This picture was taken in the older area of Ankara within the castle walls, where a little girl was seated selling bracelets and keychains as an older man passed her on the street.
The girl is covering her face because to the right and out of the picture, a local photography club was passing by on a photo walk, and she didn’t want her portrait taken. People around the world have various reasons for shying away from a camera – once in Ecuador, I had a woman approach me in a market and ask me not to take pictures because her friend was afraid her soul would be stolen away. In conservative Muslim cultures, including those found in parts of Turkey, married women in particular will cover their faces or turn away because for them or their families, modesty requires it. A photographer needs to know and understand the people around him, and respect their feelings or beliefs.
I know this girl a little and often buy bracelets from her for my own children when passing by. She was laughing while covering her face, and I think her reason is one that can be understood by anyone in any culture when faced with a strange camera: she was embarrassed. Cultural beliefs may be different from place to place, but underneath some things are just human nature.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/7.1, 1/40 sec.