Istanbul has long been one of the most photographed cities, one of the reasons being its topographical features that help give a deep and wide perspective. The history of photographs of this city started out with drawings before turning into memorable photographs.
The oldest drawing of the city is by Konrad Perting and is called ‘The view of Constantinople in Tabula Peutingeriana’ drawn between the years 1465 - 1547. A view of Istanbul also appeared in the Latin travel book ‘Liber Insularum Archipelagi’ which was written in 1420. The first panorama of Istanbul was by Melchior Lorichs in 1559. He also created many other drawings of the city such as the one that has a view starting from the Galata Tower and going until Eyüp.
The first-ever photograph of Istanbul is known to be taken by French military officer Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1826. It was a blurry photograph of a pigeon nest and had an exposure time of eight hours. By collaborating with Louis Jasques Mande Daguerre, who was working on a related project, Joseph Nicephore began to develop this technique in 1829. Daguerre continued to work on them after Niépce's death in 1833 and was able to capture an image with an exposure duration of less than 30 minutes. The early photographers began using their equipment to take pictures in locations they thought were intriguing. One of the earliest locations where these photos were shot was the landscape of the Ottoman Empire, specifically that of Istanbul.
In the 1850s, mostly in Beyoğlu, professional photographic studios started to open. Vasilaki Kargopulo was the first person to open a photographic studio. Alphonse Durand and Jules Derain were important photographers of this time. The most important photographic studio in the Ottoman Empire was opened by Viçen Abdullah Freres. He was the first imperial photographer and he usually took portrait shots. Along with studio photographs, landscapes, and architectural monuments that were also photographed. But most of these landscape photographs did not survive up to this day because, at the time, portraits were more popular compared to these types of photographs. Along with his brothers, Viçen Abdullah managed the studio well and got the title “Ottoman Empire Photographer’’.
Being one of the most diverse and interesting cities, there have been countless photographers who have captured its history and landscapes; thus, it certainly has a long history of photography.
Alberto Modiano, Fotoğraf Tarihine Giriş, Istanbul: Art Studio Yayıncılık, 2007