Street Photography in The Grand Bazaar – where do you start? It’s mad, just completely mad. There’s around 4300 stalls inside – purely inside, then about triple that outside and in the surrounding area. It’s impossible to comprehend unless you see it. I asked a few locals and workers inside if they ever got lost – they looked at me like I was stupid, with a resounding “of course we do!”.
The place is manic and sometimes we found ourselves being swept up in this giant stream of people that you just can’t go against, you just have to walk with them! There are pockets of respite to the side that you can jump into to take a moment, but generally once you’re in, you have to go with it! Who knows where you’ll end up?
The main building of the Bazaar is phenomenally big. I’d say if there was nobody in there at all it would still be a good half hours’ walk from one corner to another, maybe more!
The Grand Bazaar is geared up mainly for tourists now, selling any premium brand you can think of – this is where you’ll find the best fakes! From Prada shoes, to Beatz Audio, Mulberry handbags – this is the spot. There’s also a section full of gold and silver jewellery, all local and handmade.
The sellers do try and pull you in to their shops to buy things; perfume, leather bags, jeans and of course carpets. Strangely, when speaking with various shop owners, they all seem to know someone from Britain, and before you know it, you’ve bought a Persian rug! The advice locally is not to go in; no doubt you’ll be flogged something you don’t really want – so ideally you need to be comfortable with saying no. I generally find a strong “no thanks” and walking away works. It’s not terrifying, but certainly something you’ll need to be geared up for and aware of if you decide to join us on a course.
Away from the tourist side of the Bazaar was the area where the factories and the wholesalers are based. Some streets are purely centred around handbags, others shoes. I was told that the guys who work in there start as young men and become very skilful at knocking shoes out impossibly quickly but of beautiful quality, even if they’re not genuine designer!
The food in this area was also amazing – there are one or two memorable cafés we’ll be taking people back to. The kebabs are of course, the Real McCoy. And everything is so fresh – it’s all good stuff. We found one stall where a guy was pressing fruit by hand – we were buying full glasses of pomegranate juice for next-to-nothing. It’s all Incredibly healthy and natural, and the variety is staggering.
The Bazaar is truly a brilliant experience for street photography. It’s vibrant and diverse, intense and rewarding. I’d expect to spend a good full day there in order to capture some of the most unusual and exciting images. Pat and I spent around three days in and out, and found we still had more to cover! The photographic opportunities are endless – I guarantee you won’t ever witness anything like this again.