Sea of Men

© carolyn drake

I had seen only one live football match in Turkey during four years living there – a game against Liverpool at Besiktas – and it was my first game ever. I remember feeling smothered by the raging furor of the crowd.  To survive such an experience, one needs to be willing to surrender to the madness of the crowd. But I spent the whole time fighting it, trying to protect my inner peace while wishing for a set of ear plugs.

It turned out this was not an easy subject to shoot. The seats in the stands are so packed together that you cant, as a photographer, step between them to enter the sea of chanting. I was secretly thankful for this. I spent a lot of time on the edges, watching the game from the distant upper corners of the stadium where there was always a seat or two free; or in the press area, where I could climb the barrier between fans and the playing field to observe the crowd from the outside.

I spent my last day of shooting in the amateur fields on the edges of the Bosphorus. It felt like beginning another story. The fiendishness and zealotry that surrounded the professional games was gone. This was a much needed escape from the cramped rooms and chaotic streets of an overbearing city, a chance to run in the wind, move your body, sweat, play, breath. I wanted to drop the camera and race with these guys instead of puttering around on the sidelines, waiting.