Recently I travelled to Istanbul to shoot for an NGO called Small Projects Istanbul. Three days in the vibrant city of Istanbul, exploring, soaking up the colours, sounds and sights, and learning more about what this incredible NGO does.
Day One: Exploring Istanbul, camera in hand!
I spent the first day wandering around Istanbul, with my camera bag on my back and camera in hand to capture lots of imagery for use on Small Projects Istanbul’s social media channels. What an incredible city… I was instantly drawn in by its vibrant street art, bustling markets with food and fabrics at the heart of it all. It was an easy job, around every corner there was a bustling market, busy street, or friendly faces just waiting to be photographed. You cannot help but be inspired by the streets of Istanbul!
Day Two: Shooting Products for Drop Earrings Not Bombs and Muhra
On day two the product shoots began. This was the main reason I had travelled to Istanbul - to support this incredible NGO with two of their projects. Small Projects Istanbul works to integrate the Syrian community into the city’s population: “enabling each person to fulfill their individual potential to live a healthy and rewarding life while contributing to their social environment”. The charity runs a Community Centre in the neighbourhood of Capa, with the aim of integrating displaced communities and equipping them for their future. Read more about Small Projects Istanbul on their website.
Throughout the Community Centre there are some incredible projects and social enterprise businesses which focus on women, and their families. Ensuring they have a community to fall back on, and teaching them skills with which they can earn a living and support their families.
Introducing Drop Earrings Not Bombs
One of the products these women create and sell at the Small Projects Istanbul Community Centre are gorgeous earrings, handcrafted out of silk thread and wire with beads all added by hand, under the name ‘Drop Earrings Not Bombs’.
I had the honour of spending a day in the Drop Earrings Not Bombs workshop, watching the women bend and weave the thin metal into tiny little works of art. Choosing the coloured silks, adding beads one by one, and creating intricate patterns and ultimately beautiful unique pieces of jewellery.
Amazing jewellery, with amazing karma attached! These earrings make a beautiful gift and can be bought online from The Muhra Store.
The women also make beautiful hand beaded bracelets, each one unique.
Fashion with Heart: Muhra
My second task was to visit another project within the Community Centre, Muhra and to shoot the new range of clothing that the women of Muhra had designed and made. I got to see firsthand the process, thought and love that goes into each and every garment. From hand dying the fabrics, to creating patterns and screen printing them on, to adding embroidery and fashioning the sheets of fabric into beautiful items of clothing…
Once I had captured the process, myself and a team of wonderful models headed out into Istanbul to make the most of the cities incredible backdrops and get some photos to really show off Muhra’s fashion range.
My third day in Istanbul was spent back at Small Projects Istanbul’s Community Centre. The Centre has five storeys and each and every one is bustling with life and positivity. Here, over 150 families come together to support each other, learn new skills, chat and get the help they need.
On the first floor there is a daycare centre, where children can feel safe to make new friends, play and learn. On the other floors there are a whole host of spaces and resources for all ages - from an IT suite, to an Arabic literacy school, a video editing suite, a science club and a teens club. It really is a centre with community at the heart of it.
My three days in Istanbul were full of colour, light, life and laughter. Small Projects Istanbul is an incredible NGO that I am beyond thrilled to be able to support.
If you would like to find out more about the wonderful work that Small Projects Istanbul does, please do visit the website. Or support them, by buying their beautiful handmade clothes and jewellery from The Muhra Store!