Southeastern Turkey is viewed as the most dangerous part of the country- its proximity to war zones, ethnic conflicts, etc. all make it a no-go in the minds of many travelers.

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While in Istanbul, I spoke with a man from Mardin, one of the most diverse and ancient cities in Turkey, and asked him whether it was really as dangerous as people said.

“I was there just last week,” he said. “If you believed what the media told you, you would think that Istanbul, where we are right now, is too dangerous to visit!”

He was right. So many friends and family members back in the States worried about me being in Istanbul- and yet with America’s mass shootings I worry about them sometimes. Nowhere is completely safe, and we’re all going to die sooner or later, I figured.

Of course this was a calculated risk. I wouldn’t go to an active war zone or anywhere near one, but at the same time, life is too short to let the bad guys scare you away from learning about the world.

I took both digital and film photos on my trip through Diyarbakır, Batman, Midyat and Mardin. These are the people I saw and spoke with.

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Solomon Mosque, Diyarbakır

Diyarbakır

Backstreets, Diyarbakır

Diyarbakır

Korean War Veteran, Diyarbakır

Turkey joined the Korean War on the side of South Korea and the US- and this veteran in Diyarbakır still proudly wears his medals.

Yazidi Refugee, Midyat

This Yazidi boy spoke surprisingly good English- his family had fled northern Iraq and he wanted a good photo.

Flying a Kite, Mardin

A boy uses a plastic bag as a kite.

Dinner Time, Mardin

A family in Mardin invited me into their house for dinner- and getting toddlers to eat is a universal struggle.

Mardin

Mardin

Mardin

Tea House, Diyarbakır

Shot on Ilford Pan 35mm

Mardin

Shot on Fujifilm Provia

Mardin

Shot on Fujifilm Provia

Portrait of a man smoking a cigarette, Mardin

Shot on Fujifilm Provia

Hasankeyf, Batman

Part of Batman Province, this town has some dramatically placed buildings.

Traditional Houses, Midyat

The Language Jesus Spoke

This sign for Turabdin Hotel in Midyat is written in Aramaic.

Traditional Architecture, Mardin

Reading the Qur’an, Mardin

Shepherd, Diyarbakır

Dessert vendor, Diyarbakır

Midyat

Copy of the Bible, Mardin

The Syriac community has managed to keep their Aramaic language and Orthodox church alive for centuries.

Donkey, Mardin

Some sellers still carry their merchandise on the backs of donkeys, which they lead through the winding ancient streets of the city.

Şerbet seller, Diyarbakır

This boy was selling an herbal şerbet- it had a very strong flavor but is apparently very healthy.

Nebi Mosque, Diyarbakır

Backstreets, Diyarbakır

Shot on Ilford Pan 35mm

Aramaic Sign, Diyarbakır

Shot on Ilford Pan 35mm