(Cats, Cigarettes, and Hairy Men… with Efe B from Istanbul)

“Cats, Cigarettes, and Hairy Men” – this is the slogan I coined for Istanbul based on my biggest impressions after a week in the city. Not to stereotype, but based on my personal experience, there were a lot of hairy men out there, even if at close inspection, lots of the guys like to shave or at least trim. Also, a lot of people smoked, and frequently enough that a lot of puffing shots ended up in the magazine.  And finally, cats were everywhere, both as pets and in the streets, often photobombing their way into Elska. So indeed the Istanbul edition is the cattiest, smokiest and hairiest issue so far.   ​

More than any other Istanbul shoot, the one with Efe B most closely evoked my impressions of the city. He lived in the Şişli area, a lively neighbourhood full of real Istanbulers, not dominated by tourists. It’s probably where I’d want to live if I lived here, part of a community, bustling and authentic, middle class and diverse. The streets were full of baklava-selling bakeries, greengrocers, dress shops and the like… shops for everyday life . Perhaps it’s why I felt so at home here.

Or maybe I felt so at home because his flat was so welcoming. A huge duplex with multiple rooms that he shared with several flatmates, it was the epitome of youthful cool, a bit like a hippie (or hispter) commune. One flatmate was in the kitchen preparing breakfast (not for himself but for everybody), another was studying for her law degree at the dining table, another was roaming around trying to ready herself for a trip to the beach, and another was spotted laying on his bed reading (gorgeous he was too – I almost asked to shoot him too but lost my nerve). And there was Efe, nonchalantly introducing me as the guy about to photograph him naked – no one blinked an eye. 

We got straight to work, starting in his bedroom, where a cut-out poster of a kissing Charles and Diana was taped to the wall opposite a vintage Blondie poster. And there was a cat, well a few of them, roaming around or napping here and there. After a few snaps he needed a smoke break, one of about four during our shoot. More than any other shoot, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to rent his spare room and stay the summer. This was the Istanbul for me, and this shoot was the most closely attached to Istanbul too. It was so Efe, so Istanbul, and so me.

See more of Efe B and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (06) Istanbul


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