This once in a lifetime journey into Turkey leads us through some of the most breathtaking historical sites in the world. Istanbul, known as the city where East meets West, was the land of the Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans and each contributed to its remarkable mix of churches, mosques, cisterns, and palaces. Cappadocia’s awe-inspiring rock formations and beautiful valleys are a natural phenomenon without comparison. The well-preserved historical site of Ephesus is one of the most important cities of the ancient world. Our path takes us through the true Turkish trifecta which blends modern, ancient, and natural world wonders.
It all begins with our arrival in Istanbul, where we are met by a private driver and taken to our luxury 4-star hotel in the heart of the city. After an evening orientation tour, we share our first group dinner of traditional Turkish cuisine.
The next day—our first full one—is spent in the colorful, historic Sultanahmet neighborhood, home to such mesmerizing structures as the beautiful Hagia Sophia, the wondrous Blue Mosque, and the fascinating underground Basilica Cistern. We learn the history and connect with local people while taking advantage of stunning photo opportunities. In the evening, we gather at a popular local restaurant for food, tea, and traditional music.
Our third day begins with a walk to the Grand Bazaar, a massive 15th-century indoor market with dozens of lanes and more than 4000 shops, where endless nooks and crannies hold endless photographic opportunities. After lunch we walk to the spectacular 16th-century Suleymaniye Mosque before hitting the city's famous spice market, a gorgeous building full of intense colors and magical aromas.
After breakfast on day four we take a short drive to the Balat neighborhood, home to Jewish, Roma, and Armenian populations over the years and recently re-invigorated by the restoration of its colorful traditional wooden homes and buildings. Here we participate in an organized photo session with local models. After lunch, we wander the picturesque waterfront of vibrant Eminonu, a neighborhood full of activity. In the evening we pause to share and review images together.
On day five we depart Istanbul for the beautiful region of Cappadocia on a 90 minute flight. Upon arrival, we take a panoramic orientation tour of South Cappadocia before arriving to our unique cave hotel (yes, inside of a cave!) before a photographic walk in the local village to take in the sweeping views over the region.
Our sixth day we visit the Goreme open air museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we explore a rock carved monastery, cave churches with colorful original frescoes, living quarters of monks and more. We also visit the Ortahisar Castle and soak up the Fairy Chimney Valley with its mushroom-like rocks and out-of-this-world formations. Our last stop is at a red clay pottery workshop located along the river where we learn about this craft that has become well known in Cappadocia.
Day seven begins with an early morning optional excursion - a hot air balloon ride at sunrise! We rise-up between two volcanic mountains for unforgettable images out over this otherworldly landscape. Our day takes us to Uchisar Castle, the Kaymakli Underground City, and the Pigeon Valley. In the evening, we settle in for a Whirling Dervish performance and a traditional Turkish dinner.
Day eight we head to the local airport for our 90 minute flight to the city of Izmir. Upon arrival we transfer to the coastal town of Kusadasi. After checking into our hotel near the seaside, we go for a photographic walk through the laid-back streets and neighborhoods of this welcoming destination. We then enjoy a home-cooked dinner with local friends at their home in a village outside the town.
Day nine’s excursion is to the historical site of Ephesus. This ancient port city, dating back to 133 BC, has some of the best-preserved ruins in all of Turkey and was once one of the most important cities of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. We have sufficient time to slowly photograph the large site, with its amphitheater, library, temples, aqueducts, and basilica.
Our final day in Kusadasi offers free time to enjoy as you wish. You can choose to spend time at the beach, wander the town, go for a traditional hammam (Turkish spa experience), or even take an optional day trip out to Pamukkale. Pamukkale is an area full of thermal springs and unique flowing structures formed out of mineral-rich water, which look like a dreamy cotton castle. We then meet up this evening for our final group dinner and to celebrate favorite images from our journey. The next morning, we fly to Istanbul to catch connections back home after a memorable adventure full of rich interactions with local people and immersion into Turkish life.
COVID-19 UPDATE: For all in-person workshops and trips in 2023, Santa Fe Workshops highly recommends that all participants, staff, and instructors attending be up to date with Covid vaccinations (per definition of the CDC). For international trips, local laws will apply, so it is important that you confirm you will be fully vaccinated according to the countries on your trip.
This program is open to photographers at all levels who are passionate about travel and improving their image making.
It’s important to note that many parts of Istanbul are pedestrian-only and can therefore only be reached by foot. Participants should be able to walk a minimum of three hours per day and to be comfortable walking up and down hilly streets. There is also a good amount of walking in Cappadocia and Ephesus, as the sites in both areas are best explored by foot.
Participants should be technically self-sufficient, as this is not a program to learn how to use your gear or editing software. This a photographic tour, not a photography workshop and there isn’t structured classroom time. There will be group image review sessions with Jennifer, as well as help with photographic ideas and techniques on-location.
Participants make their own air travel arrangements to Istanbul to arrive in time for the opening reception and dinner on Sunday, May 21 at 6:00pm. To avoid jet lag, it is advised to consider arriving a day in advance to rest before the tour begins. Once the trip is confirmed, additional information and travel details will be provided. Enrollment is limited to 14 participants.
$7,895 includes double accommodations for ten nights (ideal for couples and friends traveling together; single supplement available for an additional $850); all breakfasts, five lunches, and eight dinners; all transportation in Turkey including two domestic flights; airport transfers; and all entrance fees. Airfare to Istanbul as well as required travel insurance, meals and activities not mentioned in the itinerary, gratuities, and passport/visa fees are not included.
Jennifer Spelman is a documentary photographer and member of the Jibaro Photos Collective. She is co-publisher of CubaSeen, a quarterly magazine showcasing photography and writing about Cuba.
Jennifer received her photographic training as an assistant with Santa Fe Workshops, working with some of today’s most preeminent photographers: Jay Maisel, Norman Mauskopf, and Joe McNally.
A sensitive photographer of people, Jennifer strives to create portraits with energy and insight. She is most at home on the streets of Havana and has worked with Santa Fe Workshops across Cuba since 2011. Jennifer is a patient educator who has co- instructed with National Geographic Expeditions and taught workshops in Romania, India, Mexico, Japan, in addition to Cuba.
A popular workshop instructor, Jennifer is also part of our Mentorship Program »
This workshop is currently full. Use this form to sign up for the waitlist, and SFW will reach out if a seat becomes available.