These girls were living on the outskirts of Van, a major city in eastern Turkey, not far from the border of Iran. I met them in the summer of 1971 as I was walking to an ancient castle and the ruins of the old city of Van, completely destroyed during World War 1.
This is an excerpt from my diary from that journey 41 years ago:
"The road towards the castle was lined with trees and surrounded by fertile meadows. There were many small cottages, their walls plastered with mud and often featuring nicely carved wood around the doors and windows and under the roofs. Lots of kids were running behind me all the time, asking for money, but they didn't really bother me. I took a picture of some small Kurdish girls and soon after that an old man offered me a ride on his horse-cart".
The city of Van surprised me in 1971 by being so relatively much more modern than other towns and cities in the southeastern part of Turkey. From what I can see from recently taken photos Van has grown incredibly much and changed totally beyond recognition.
As always, when I see my old pictures of children, I can only hope that life hasn't been too hard on these obviously very poor girls.
I have scanned this from a slide, probably an Agfacolor CT18.
Critiques | Translate
fds (8690) 2012-11-17 5:18
dear friend great portrait of the 41 years ago
i 40 years old
great document of the history
mohammad_H (9566) 2012-11-17 5:19
View portraits, children, cute, charming smiles
Peasant dress with beautiful colors
Have a nice day and enjoy every moment of life.
mesutilgim (87354) 2012-11-17 5:21
Hello dear Gert,
Another wonderfull capture from 1971 ! Very good quality scan and nice compo.
Those girls must be today around their fifties, the elder one maybe also around sixty.
The smile of the cute little girl at left is just amazing.
TFS and have a nice weekend
TopGeo (38206) 2012-11-17 5:21
Hello Gert! A good quality of image, if and old time, a great sharpness and a few managed-well colors, they make a very interesting composition amazing portraits and informations.Today I have grown up and maybe see and impress
ACL1978 (7511) 2012-11-17 5:38
We are neighbors today, Gert, but with two quite different shots. Here you have a wonderful look at this family of girls; their reactions to you are nicely varied and full of life, especially the girl at far left. Despite the obvious poverty of their situation, there's a nobility in your shot, especially in the oldest, who is presenting herself to the camera. Good angle shooting from lower down to catch them against the bright sky.
saxo042 (37596) 2012-11-17 6:14
En osedvanligt bra bild och man kan på nytt undra hur många lika bra bilder du har kvar i gömmorna. Färgerna är mycket bra och det är uppenbart att du lärt dig en hel del om efterarbetet sedan du kom med i TE. Så här pass lysande färger kan jag inte minnas att var på dina tidigaste skannade bilder du visade här. En välkomponerad bild och en intressant text. Nog borde det finnas folk nu, som känner igen dessa unga flickor från 1971.
abmdsudi (44966) 2012-11-17 7:55
I very much enjoy the way you get down lower to their level -a good technique- to give a real feeling of closeness making them to look bigger of these gorgeous young girls -mothers now. This is surely great encounters from this remote part of the country. A lovely moment well caught and the range of emotions in the faces of these adorable innocent is astounding, except the smallest one who seems to be unhappy with your lens may be. Nice happy smiles, expressions, the curiuos look, intensity and yet calm. A truly charming and happy memorable shot indeed. Excellent pp treatment, Congrats. TFS
Highmountains (2255) 2012-11-17 8:02
The expressions are so very humane !
Photography as a form of visual art - does imitete life. In photographs such as these - its surely beyond life. Its a representation of truth.
The colours are bright and vivid.
The family poses for the photograph and the little girl on the left is definitely smiling.
Life is tough and difficult, and at times survival itself is an achievement.
Thanks for sharing, Gert.
leo61 (0) 2012-11-17 9:16
Good quality for this old scan, and so nice scenes with the chance to photograph are exactly why I want to travel to destinations where the world is totally different to what we are used here in Europe.
Good shot with these diferent facial expressions.
THis year I wanted to visit the Van region, but then there was this earthquake and now the trouble with Syria......
I`m just editing and saving photos for printing of my beloved people in the fishing village around Ngapali beach.
Today in exactly 5 weeks I start my 5th travel to this wonderful, now very fast changing country.
Can`t wait to meet these wonderful people again.
Have a great weekend,
dkmurphys (50734) 2012-11-17 9:30
A funny capture in this old travel document. Nice scene, full of life.
Have a nice evening.
Nicou (126322) 2012-11-17 10:23
quelle iamge de ces jeunes filles elles sont charmantes, sueprbe cpatage de ces enfant avec leurs beaux hatism rouge, sueprbe.
Braov et amitié
Tigerlily (3107) 2012-11-17 10:35
Beautifully taken image..It is really wonderful.. I love it! The colour is great. The five girls all have different expressions..full of life.
I like the title..there was a mis-reading, made me laugh.. When I read "middle-age.. 41 years" I thought you were kidding.. couldn't they count? Or you forgot to put your glasses on?:-D, and then I saw the ward "ago".. ah... that's it then.. wish them well...and you too.
vasilpro (41035) 2012-11-17 13:35
Wonderful portrait from the past, I like the expressions on their faces, maybe it is the first time that they posing for a tourist, TFS!
Greetings from Greece, Vasilis.
mafegan (8624) 2012-11-17 15:00
Although the girls are obviously posing for you they still seem a happy bunch - content with their winnings in the lottery of life. I was also interesting reading your detailed notes which you wrote at the time. Your own journey through life must be so well documented. Thanks for sharing, Marlene
emka (82596) 2012-11-17 16:34
Another gem from yor archive. Amazing that they all have dresses of similar colors. Is the woman mother of all girls? She does not look so old. All were obviuosly curios about you.
I would like to see are near Van, because of Nemrut Dagi and also famous cars. have you seen them? They are white and they are the only cats that like swimming.
wolf38 (31282) 2012-11-17 23:14
Hello Gert. Truly a heartwarming photo. Rarely have I seen a more sympathetic group. Perfectly arranged. Each of the faces has a very personal expression. This 41-year-old photo is a perfect social study. I think this photo belongs to one of your best.
Miguel82 (25495) 2012-11-18 7:56
An exceptional document you accept to share with us
Colorful traditional clothes
Colors, contrast, framing and light are excellent
Have a good We
adores (39223) 2012-11-18 10:24
Good to read that part of your diary and see this great old photo. The two little ones on the right seem really amused with your camera. A very good portrait! They look poor but it was taken a long time ago. Let's hope their lives have changed for better!
ourania (34455) 2012-11-18 10:44
I like very much this group portrait with the girls clustered together in the middle of the frame and opposite the lens, each of them with her own attitude. The eldest girl has an expression that shows her strong character and the responsibilities she has assumed in the family. The youngest ones are more interested in each other. I'm captivated by the expressions of the two girls on the right. Friendly, shy and curious, they seem to be studying you and the viewer with the same interest that we are studying them.This interaction is fascinating and accentuates the feeling of concern mentioned in your note about how their life has been since. The rich red hues enhance the vividness of the picture. Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a great week,
pajaran (53721) 2012-11-18 12:35
Lepa fotografija i secanje na 1971. godinu.
Lep trenutak sa decom koja se smeju.
Prijatno vece i sve najbolje sa lepim secanjem na posetu Turskoj.
Beautiful photos and memories of the 1971st year.
A nice moment with the children laugh.
Good evening and all the best with the beautiful memories of the visit to Turkey.
tyro (21126) 2012-11-18 13:18
What a fascinating note and how it sparks our imaginations to wonder quite what has become of these five girls now! Like yourself, I hope that life has not been too hard for them. Excellent too that you included a quotation from your diary of 1971.
A wonderful photograph in which it is interesting to note that all the girls appear quite happy apart, perhaps, from the eldest one, holding the youngest, and who is probably bearing the responsibility of caring for her younger sisters or cousins.
Even in those days, you were aware of depth of field and have obviously used a fairly wide aperture here to throw the background nicely out of focus. Excellent details of the girls themselves and their clothes, good colours (for Agfa CT18) and spot-on exposure too - for transparency film was very unforgiving of inaccurate exposure settings.
aliabazari (16050) 2012-11-18 19:58
Hej Gareth s
Det är ett mycket gott tecken och ett dokument av modern historia är intressant. Jag beundrar dig för att dela denna bild med värde.
Mycket trevlig och med respekt ...
siamesa (27751) 2012-11-19 0:04
Bom dia Gert
Fantastic. 41 years ago is a long time. As always we make the question: Where are these people now? Very nice photo.
fabbs99 (16803) 2012-11-19 7:21
Another great documentation of history by you.I salute you for the efforts put in by you to properly preserve such old photographs(as old as me), which might have become meaningless to you at any point of time during the last 40 odd years(but they didn't),unlike me becoming meaningless to many over the same length of years.I wish these malnourished girls,some of whom may have become grandmas by now ,could take a look at your inspiring effort.Hats off to you,Sir and your idea of perseverance.
eldancer1 (30040) 2012-11-19 9:27
Very nice portrait of this family, I hope they are all doing okay. The children (adults by now) look happy with beautiful smiles. Good lighting and dof with nice details. Well done, tfs.
gildasjan (41936) 2012-11-19 10:16
Ce groupe de portrait est parfaitement exposé avec un beau rendu des attitudes.Il est un peu dommage que le ciel soit si laiteux mais je suppose qu'il n'était pas possible de faire autrement.
bayno (18344) 2012-11-19 10:46
Many times I have tried to give an explanation, children, sometimes most are poor and most seem to smile, it's always a pleasure to see your old photos, it reminds me a little bit my India
UlfE (14641) 2012-11-19 12:29
Jämfört med de helt fantastiska skanningar som vi sett från dig tidigare kommer den här bilden inte upp i sammma klass. Förmodligen för att ljusförhållandena inte var de bästa när du tog bilden och inte att du inte gjort ett bra skanningjobb. Bildkvalitén spelar dock mindre roll när det är en sådan fantastiskt tidsdokument. Färgerna är också väldigt bra,liksom kompositionen. Det man kan hoppas på är att det gått bra för dem på bilden och att någon av dem för nöjet att se denna fina bild nu när du efter så lång tid visar den för världen. Tack för titten och ha en fin vecka!
P.S. Din fråga om temperaturen i Zermatt. Det är nog -15 eller något åt det hållet. Inte så farligt eftersom luften är torr. Det kan dock blåsa ordentligt och då blir det förstås kallare i vindarna.
COSTANTINO (57919) 2012-11-20 7:30
simple but nice portraits of those women
your useful notes helped me to understand
and reading a part of your diary from that
journey 41 years ago,great experience
my friend to have done a jorney like this
one to outskirts of Van in eastern
Turkey not far from the border of Iran
thanks for sharing all themn with us
mirosu (15102) 2012-11-20 18:20
You must have a very good scanner (can you advise me?).
I like this group photo and the way how they point their attention to the camera. I like it. Regards Miro.
batalay (36141) 2012-11-22 19:44
Initially I looked at for Kodachrome coloration, but there is none. I see that you were using Agfacolor. Adding 41 years to these children's ages does indeed make them middle aged. I too hope life has not been too hard on these young impoverished girls. I am sure that you remember the before and after shots of the 17-year old Afghan girl. The photographer was the legendary Steve McCurry of the National Geographic.
Warm regards, Gert.
delpeoples (54141) 2012-11-22 21:48
Hello dear Gert
As I am the same age as this photo, I find it even more fascinating. That little babe-in-arms is (hopefully) a fully grown woman with a family of her own now. I hope their lives have been good ones. The quality of your photo is superb. I would never have guessed it was 40 years old! Superb colours, wonderful definition and a poignant (and a little sad) moment, delicately captured. Thanks for sharing, I have really enjoyed this.
willperrett (7660) 2012-11-23 15:13
Very interesting "archive" image, giving relevance and perspective by your comments. It would be wonderful to know what became of them. The grouping in the photograph is tight and I like the way you've obviously crouched down to be on their level. Good range of expressions on show: the eldest clearly isn't too sure about your activities!
agjika (3616) 2012-11-23 15:25
What a fantastic decumentary shot. Did you write your note in Swedish or English?
Thanks for sharing
kordinator (19598) 2012-11-25 1:09
How to look like drug addicts, even a little better.
Poverty is not the greatest evil, evil is what has led to poverty.
Very nice view and a fine of 1971 observations in your journal.
An excellent composition that reflects the time that it presents.
A perfect old scene you captured with this group portrait.
livermore (1629) 2012-11-25 11:41
Une photo documentaire authentique sur cette fratie de soeurs.
J'aime beaucoup le sourire malicieux de celle de droite.
macjake (58890) 2012-12-01 4:17
yes, thats the beauty of these older shots isn't...wondering how the lives of these people have evolved over the years, for better or for worse.
too bad there isn't a way, somehow, to find out.
the clothes of the girl 2nd from the right really tells a story.
and i wonder about the oldest child here, probably she has to play a much 'older' mature role, therefore not being able to be a child herself.
as mentioned many times before, its great to view these shots of yours.
they get us thinking.
mkamionka (31481) 2012-12-02 11:40
great group portrait. You were really so lucky to be in all these places and see all the people. I guess it is not easy to see this much poverty and not being able to help very much. But at least your photos are sharing this experience with us and telling the story.
papera (14042) 2012-12-26 12:39
one of these days you will have to scan the pages of your diaries :)
I love to look at your pictures from the past, especially because we live in times obsessed by image quality where content is often considered secondary. I always take away something from your pictures with people, a question of how their lives turned out to be, the naked feelings on their faces, the hope that something worked out in the end, giving them some kind of happiness.
thanks for that.
kasianowak (7321) 2013-09-06 5:32
Beautiful group portrait! Thank you for pointing me out to this section of your diary. These notes are priceless. I may be going to this region next year, 43 years after your trip. :)
Have a nice weekend
Zengi001 (2587) 2013-12-01 13:35
You take this image 15 days after I was born.
That's great indeed. For me it is like a journey to the past.
I really loved your past time Turkey photos.
Thèse days the country had a more distinct character.
Not today's degeneration on People's faces.
Thanks for sharing,