Since 2011, celebrated fashion designer and couturier J.J. Valaya has also been a fine art photographer. With two solo exhibitions under his belt and a third in the works, Valaya is well on his way to being a master of the craft. He is also a firm believer in the dictum that “the best camera is the one that’s with you”. No surprise then that all his Istanbul images have been shot on a smartphone. It even has a name, phoneography, and many believe it is the future of photography (some believe the future is already here). Few cities ooze with endless visual imagery quite like Istanbul. But this cosmopolitan city seems to have met its match in Valaya, whose sensitive images capture the eclectic spirit of Istanbul perfectly.

Inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “inevitability of a decisive moment”, Valaya says, “It is my core belief too, that Art indeed does exist everywhere, and candid photography is perhaps the most honest way to interpret it. I have also realised, over time, that whilst my fine art photography offers me the supreme opportunity to be a storyteller, it also demands patience and time to be woven together into incredible shows (sometimes years!). I had to, therefore, find a medium that would allow me to satiate my chronic desire to seize the spontaneity of the moment…for my own pleasure, as also to, perhaps, celebrate all that exists around us.”

Valaya’s Istanbul is the first in a series, an amuse-bouche if you will, and we can’t wait for more. All images from The Little Book of Memories: Istanbul, by J.J. Valaya. Available on amazon.in, and at stores like Nappa Dori , Paperboat (Goa) , CMYK bookstore; 1,200

J.J. Valaya
Istanbul outside Valaya's window
Istanbul outside Valaya's window
J.J. Valaya
Building under construction
Building under construction


J.J. Valaya
People taking a stroll on a bridge overlooking the city
People taking a stroll on a bridge overlooking the city
J.J. Valaya
From the cab
J.J. Valaya
The Art Walk
The Art Walk
J.J. Valaya
Hagia Sofia
Hagia Sofia
J.J. Valaya
The carpet seller
The carpet seller
J.J. Valaya
In conversation
In conversation
J.J. Valaya
The walk
J.J. Valaya
Rare finds