Istanbul and its people by Pierre Belhassen

December 2020

Travel / Immerse yourself

The story of a photographer in search of moments of grace.

The photographer Pierre Belhassen adores Istanbul. With photo film in his hands, his series of images captured on the spur of the moment is driven by emotion.

Photographer : Pierre Belhassen

Making a memory come alive again

He got his eye from the streets of New York. With an eye for color photographs taken in the moment on the spot, he is on a continuous quest to capture moments of grace. An eye that he brought with him to his current home in Marseille, the perfect stage where the unexpected emerges at every street corner. Then, it was off to Istanbul. His father, originally from Tunis and in love with the Turkish capital, introduced him to it in the early 80s.


The smells of the city would forever leave their mark on him and so, with fleeting memories of his childhood, Pierre Belhassen turned Istanbul into a lifelong passion project. Each of his visits feature the same ritual: Airport, hotel and 10 to 15 days on location – never rushing. His photos take their time. His project will be the subject of a book.

In the midst of the whirlwind, an unforgettable moment

Absorbed by the light and the ambiance of the city and the way the people of Istanbul move, Pierre Belhassen lets reality unfold before his eyes. Amidst the city’s hustle and bustle, he melts into the crowd with a silver Leica in his hands, checks his map, then patiently waits, always looking for the potential of any moment and letting himself be driven by emotion. On his walks between Taksim Square and the Ortakoy district, one of the liveliest antique shops in Istanbul, he befriends the locals, follows a friend from the Magnum agency through the secret nooks and crannies of the city where tourists have disappeared, and often gets lost in the process. In each of his shots, he leaves a trace of himself. He has a natural desire to photograph other people, and from many different angles. And he always reserves a spot for color, the signature thread of his storytelling.


Pierre Belhassen has notably exhibited his work at the Festival Voies Off Arles, and FotoIstanbul. He regularly collaborates for print magazines.

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