How this AP photographer in Istanbul found a distinctive moment observing daily life

Commuters take a ride in a ferry crossing the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Commuters take a ride in a ferry crossing the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)


For AP Photographer Francisco Seco, taking photos of daily life in cities around the world is one of his favorite activities because it gives him a sense of the people of that city in relaxed moments.

In this photo, Seco was walking the deck of a ferry when he saw a woman watching the water.

Here, he shares how he made this extraordinary image.

Why this photo

Taking photos of daily street life is an opportunity to explore the city at a different pace - witnessing universal behaviors that become unique to place. Going to work, taking a walk, having a coffee, meeting friends, etc., is something that millions of human beings share, but each city and culture offers us its own scenario that is rich in nuances.

This photo was taken on one of the ferries that connect the Asian and European shores of Istanbul. Hundreds of thousands of people commute every day between the two banks of the Bosphorus Strait.

Ferries in Istanbul are a way of transportation. But it is also a place where - during a 20- or 30-minute ride - you can take a break, chat with friends, have a tea, read a book or simply relax by watching the sea. It’s a place where usually I try to get some nice shots.

That day I was returning from Kadikoy, on the Asian shore to Karakoy, on the European side. It was a day that after working many hours on the computer I decided to go out to take some daily life photos. Being able to take photographs of daily life in Istanbul is a gift for me as a photojournalist. I usually go out every week. It is a good excuse to refresh my mind and, above all, get to know the city that has welcomed me for the last two years.

How I made this photo

When I travel by ferry, I usually walk around from one side to the other, up and down … looking for photos.

This photo was taken at the bow of the ship. I did it on the outside through a window. That is why you see reflections in the photograph. The railing that you see on the right side in the photograph was actually behind my back.

I used a Sony 50mm lens. I prefer to use short prime lenses instead of zooms because they push me to move closer or farther away rather than stopping in one place when zooming in and out.

The warm sunlight comes in through the windows. I made a few shots until I managed to get the woman’s gaze right between the rails of the railing. Later, when I opened my pics on the laptop, I knew I had a nice shot.

Why the photo works

Istanbul is a very busy megacity with around 16 million inhabitants. It’s like a nonstop beating heart.

I think in the photograph you can see a moment of calm. An atmosphere of pause.

The ferry was heading towards the European side of the city and what the passengers saw through the windows was the sun setting over the Golden Horn, with Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace on the horizon. It’s a magic and beautiful view.

I think the warm sunlight, composition and reflections work well in this photo. Perhaps it is a moment of pause and calm among so much news of conflicts, pain and wars.