My travel buddy and I had found out from the local grocer across the street that a huge soccer match was to take place on the same weekend we were there. It was the championship match between two local rivals. Galatasaray (from the European side of the Bosphorus river), was to play Fenerbahçe (from the Asian side).
Unfortunately, the game was taking place outside of Istanbul, and tickets were basically sold out. And while for a quick second we entertained the idea of somehow making it to the game, reality set in, so we put it to the back of our minds. Yet we could never have been prepared for what we were about to experience. It was one of the most exciting moments of the trip!
After a long day of walking up and down the many hills of Istanbul, my friend and I made it back to the apartment. We rested our feet for a bit before deciding on our next adventure. It was early evening and we definitely wanted to check out some Istanbul nightlife. Just when we were relaxed and ready to go again, the faint sound of what seemed like mild chaos came through the living room window. People were cheering, cars were honking their horns, and every so often, someone would be chanting words in Turkish. Clearly by what we heard, Galatasaray had won the game. However, we didn’t realize to what extent the fans would be celebrating.
I poked my head out of the window and saw people waving their flags, singing, and walking towards Istiklal St.. So of course, we decided to join the party and see exactly what was going on. I grabbed my camera, and off we went!
I’ve heard that soccer fans are pretty serious, but I didn’t know they were THIS serious! The street was packed with people and the energy was contagiously amazing. People were playing drums, singing, dancing, cheering, and showing a true pride for their team. Now I have to admit, this was my first experience with soccer fans celebrating a major win. And if they’re all like this, I wanna be there every time a team wins! (Hopefully in a different country each time though!)
Being able to photograph such an event was a great experience for me. It was the first time I actually didn’t feel awkward trying to photograph strangers on the street. Some of them even asked me to photograph them! And as you can see, the team colors of red and gold were everywhere. I even had a chance to use the flares that people were burning for some great lighting effects.
At some point, my buddy and I got separated in the immense crowd of people. Luckily, we already planned that if it were to happen, that we would meet back at the apartment, which was very close to where we were. I continued to walk down the street taking more photos and enjoyed the energy coming from the crowd. I watched strangers come together to celebrate something they had in common.
It was a beautiful thing, and an experience I’ll never forget.