Tag Archives: photo essay

Circumcision Parties Are A Rite Of Passage In Turkey

Photographer Bradley Secker journeys to Istanbul to document the traditional ceremonies surrounding sünnet, or male circumcision.

On a Sunday morning at the Sünnet Sarayi (Circumcision Palace) in Istanbul, groups of 7- and 8-year-old boys are paraded around in glitzy costumes reminiscent of Ottoman sultans. Excited and nervous, they are preparing for their circumcision. The ritual is considered the first step in the passage from boyhood to manhood, and on this day each boy is a little sultan in the eyes of his admiring family.

The Sünnet Sarayi was established in 1976 by Kemal Özkan, one of Turkey’s most adored traditional figures. Özkan claims to have circumcised more than 125,000 children during his lifetime, more than half of which he did without charge for local councils and municipalities throughout Turkey.

Yahya Kemal Ãœnal after his circumcision in Sariyer, a town on the Bosphorus coastline north of Istanbul. Bradley Secker

Before the knife cuts, the children dance for their families, get entertained by a clown, and are given a ride on a football-shaped train. Parents sit at large tables around the room and cheer for their kids.

When the time comes to perform the operation, the mini sultans are seated in a large red velvet throne opposite of the late Mr. Özkan’s son and his assistant. Families gather around, looking through excited and nervous eyes. While the ceremony takes place, a religious leader recites verses from the Qur’an to add the religious element to the celebration. After the procedure, which lasts a few seconds, the boys are catapulted onto the dance floor below to celebrate with their parents.

The finer details are performed shortly afterward in a medical facility backstage, where the boys are checked over by a doctor. During the checkup they are given an iPad to entertain them. Once the checkup is finished, the surreal clash of past and present traditions is over.

Parents of participating children and entertainers help the boys to feel relaxed and excited before the circumcision takes place. The Circumcision Palace in Istanbul claims to have performed more than 100,000 operations. Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker


Erken (left) and Yigit Huseyin (right) after their traditional circumcision in Sariyer, a town on the Bosphorus coastline north of Istanbul. The boys dress in costumes of Ottoman sultans on the day when they are seen as stepping into manhood.

Families of the young participant eagerly watch the circumcision taking place in Kemal Özkan’s Sünnet Sarayi in Istanbul. Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker


Mehmet Karakum after his traditional circumcision in Sariyer. Bradley Secker

Families of the young participant eagerly watch the circumcision taking place. Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker


Yekta Selami Ãœnal (left) and Can Umut (right) after their circumcisions.

A mufti recites a religious verse while the boys, dressed as Ottoman Sultans, take a break to let the local anesthetic take effect at the Circumcision Palace in Istanbul. Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker


Berat Ayan after his traditional circumcision in Sariyer. Bradley Secker

During the religious element of the sünnet ceremony the female guests cover their heads. Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker


Eren Alp (left) and Umut (right) after their traditional circumcisions.

After having the quick operation the participant children dance with their relatives in celebration of moving into manhood. Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker


Baris Can Giçi (left) and Gencay (right) after their traditional circumcisions.

Arda (left) and Yizit (right) after their traditional circumcision. Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker


A patient uses an iPad as a distraction while he is being checked over by Dr. Levent Ozken before leaving the Circumcision Palace for his coming of age sünnet day. Bradley Secker

Ali Girgin after his traditional circumcision. Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker is a photographer based in Istanbul. To view more of his work, check out his website at http://www.bradleysecker.com/.

Photo Series Asks: What Souvenir Did You Keep From Your Ex After The Breakup?

Photographer Sam Evans-Butler and Hello Mr. magazine wants you to share the t-shirts, lighters, and other mementos that you hold onto — even after you let that special someone go.

1. After the break-up, was there anything from your ex you just couldn’t let go of? Perhaps an object you kept as a souvenir of sorts?

hellomrmag.com / Via Sam Evans-Butler

2. That is the exact question the Souvenir photo project, shot and conceived by photographer Sam Evans-Butler, is attempting to explore.


This project, archiving the stories of objects men still have from their ex-boyfriends, originally appeared in an issue of Hello Mr. magazine and is now being relaunched as a larger project for Valentine’s Day. “When Sam pitched the idea to editor Ryan Fitzgibbon, the story really spoke to him because he himself had a ‘souvenir’ from his ex and felt that this was a story that would speak to a lot of people,” Assistant Editor Francisco Tirado explained to BuzzFeed News. “In these simple stories, the series explores that peculiar fondness we feel for an object, despite the not-so-fond feelings we might not have for the person associated with it.”

4. The Hello Mr. team is encouraging people to share their own souvenir stories using #YourSouvenir. The best of the best will be shared on their Instagram account.


5. Here are a few of the souvenir stories they have collected:

6. “Will, an editor, kept a flask that his ex engraved his initials on.”

Sam Evans-Butler / Via hellomrmag.com

7. “Sam, snuck into his ex’s apartment after the break up to drop off a box of stuff left behind, and left with his ex’s favorite lighter. ‘I don’t know why, but I felt like I deserved it.'”

8. “Dylan, set designer. The only item that he has ever kept from a relationship was this t-shirt. They are no longer together, but the business carries on.”

hellomrmag.com / Via Sam Evans-Butler

9. “Erol, small business owner, opened Kahve coffee shop with the man he was dating.”

hellomrmag.com / Via Sam Evans-Butler

10. “Mark, furniture designer/builder, and his cat Amiga, who was a gift from the first guy he ever dated.”

Sam Evans-Butler / Via hellomrmag.com

11. “Matthew, DJ, got a tattoo that his boyfriend paid for to commemorate their favorite song, ‘I Found A Reason’ by Cat Power.”

hellomrmag.com / Via Sam Evans-Butler

12. “Adrian, stylist, found this drawing after his partner moved out. He’s not really sure if it was intended to be mean spirited.”

hellomrmag.com / Via Sam Evans-Butler

13. “Paul, painter, stole these sunglasses from his boyfriend during a messy break­up, despite the fact that he didn’t like them.”

Sam Evans-Butler / Via hellomrmag.com

14. Drew, chief creative officer: “I hung on to my ex-­boyfriend’s cape. He bought it, and I stole it. Capes are my signature look now. Haha.”

15. “Jon Jon, DJ, kept this pop up card that was made for him as a gift.”

Sam Evans-Butler / Via hellomrmag.com

16. “Dan, marketing, kept this framed DC Comics art even after he and his boyfriend broke up. Here, he bares it all.”

17. Post a picture of #YourSouvenir to your Instagram for a chance to be featured and win a prize from Need Supply. More info here.