The Money Traders of Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey.

I'm trying to get away from single shots- as recommended by a friend of mine. Rather, I'm trying to tell better stories through a series of photos. 

Positioned, perhaps symbolically, in the Grand Bazaar's gold district, the street currency traders are loud. Really loud. So loud that my hand went directly to my camera, thinking a Cairo-esque protest  was around the corner.

Instead of finding a sea of red and black flags, I saw 20+ men in leather jacks, red faces and sharp eyes. They were packed intimately on a side street- one of the few uncovered areas in the 'Covered Market' (the Turkish name of Grand Bazaar). 

These guys are the pulse of Istanbul's money exchange- armed technological warriors of the 21st century, iPhones are now the de facto tool to trade millions of dollars. The shouts of prices gets incredibly confusing, especially when the word used for US Dollar is 'whole one'. 

The men pay service to a time honoured tradition of capitalizing on the ebbs and flows of the global currents markets, housed in this narrow street for generations. Trading global currencies on the street used to be illegal, but those times are now just a memory. In the most reductive sense, these men are the moves shakers for the fluctuation in the lira and dollar seen by most shoppers in and around the market. Employed by currency houses and banks, the 20+ set the rate. 

They spend their days alternating shouts with a phone pressed tightly against their ears. Tens of millions of dollars will pass through their hands over the period of a few hours.

While I usually try to shoot colour, sometimes I can't resist juicy, rich black and white. B/W should be used sparingly, but there are also times to indulge. This is one of them.