You could spend a year chronicling life on the streets of Istanbul and barely scratch the surface.

I’ve been to this city – home to some 18 million people – six times. Like New York, it’s a metropolis with a lively street life. Rain or shine, there’s always something happening on an Istanbul street corner.

It’s the commercial heart of a country that has leaped from backwater to economic heavyweight in just a few decades. The politicians may reside in Ankara, some 450km (281 miles) away, but that is more down to Istanbul’s recent past. The end of World War One led to the fall of the Ottoman Empire, hastened by a French, British and Italian occupation of the city.

After the new republic’s new president Kemal Ataturk – the hero of Gallipoli – took power in 1922, one of the first things he did was to move the new state’s capital inland to Ankara, far from the reach of imperial dreadnaughts.

Istanbul is a city with all the hallmarks of a modern European metropolis – excellent modern art galleries, restaurants reviewed by the New Yorker, Uber and coffee chains – but is very much on the fringes of Europe. Most of its fast-growing suburbs lie on the city’s Asian side.

It is also a city of Ottoman history, mosques and calls to prayer, markets centuries old.

Even in the tunnels and underpasses of its transport system there is something exotic amidst the familiar. They are thronged with stalls selling everything from toys to clocks to cheap bags, with a constant captive audience filing past.

These are great places for street photography, and LOMOs are a great tool for squeezing it all into a frame. I shot this in 2013 on my LC-Wide, on a quick autumn trip to what had become my favourite photographic destination. It’s one of the many underpasses at Eminonu, the bustling thoroughfare that connects the European side of Istanbul to the teeming Asian districts thanks to its ferry terminus.

The films – cross-processed Agfa CT100 Precisa – boosts the colours to a certain degree, pulling out the tones of the headscarves. There is blur and movement, but also the stillness of the towards the right. Has she found a bargain?

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Stephen Dowling
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