Having grown up in Texas I am used to seeing roadside stands where everything from peaches to watermelons are sold but I discovered long ago that the rest of the world has these great markets. Ever since I saw my first one, years ago in Germany, I have always been attracted to the markets in various cities and towns. Whether it’s a Green market, Wet market, Flea Market or Food Market I like them all because that is where you can find the soul of the city you’re in.
You see everyone from well dressed women shopping for produce to fish mongers. The sights, sounds and smells envelop me in a way I never got by stopping at a fruit stand on the highway. In most cities around the world the market is the social hub of town. A place to shop, talk to your neighbors and catch up on daily events.
Go down one row and there will be nuts, dates, dried berries and spices, the next row is full of whatever fruit or vegetable is in season. I am not talking about commercially grown, mass produced, perfectly shaped non tasting specimens here. Instead you will find tomatoes that taste like they came out your grandparents garden. Peaches and plums that come straight from the family orchard and local delicacies and sweets that are handmade.
Some places become famous for the markets they host such as Thailand’s Floating Markets or the Night Markets in Manila. The Middle East has their Souks where everything from gold to metal ware and wooden chests are sold. England has great Flea Markets.
No matter where you are, big city or small town, chances are somewhere near the middle of town is a market of some sorts. Spending a little time in the local market can give you a sense of the locale and people unlike anything else. Next time you find yourself in a new location do what I do and check out the market, sample some of the local food, pick up a true handcrafted item, meet some new people and come away with a different perspective of the place your visiting instead of just seeing the main tourist sites.
How do you deal with permissions from vendors to take a photo of them and their goods? Most people I’ve met are camera shy and angry about being photographed.
Most of the time I just ask and they have no problem with it. On the few occasions they have said no I move on. I have never had a problem if I bought something.
The thing is, most people perk up their ears immediately upon seeing the camera. Markets are a sensitive issue and they might be worried if you are not from tax inspection, etc. So, basically, I ‘steal’ photos in markets.
Violeta Matei says
Indeed, markets are great, not only for taking photos but also for buying yummy foods. I love cooking, even when I travel, so I always make sure to visit nearby markets wherever I go. It’s interesting to see how markets are different from country to country.
Great photos and totally agree! The markets are definitely where you will find the heart and soul of the city. I take a lot of *random* photos in the markets, usually of the stalls rather than the people. As I travel more I get braver to ask people for a photo.
Sometimes I just take photos that happen to have people in them. If I am taking one where I want the person to stand out I will ask permission however just taking random shots where people are going about their everyday life usually garners me a better photo.
I tend to prefer the natural shots and try to capture people unawares. But I’m always surprised at the number of people who are happy to pose for a photo if you ask them!
I prefer the candid shots also but sometimes a posed photo looks good
I agree with you about the markets! They are like the heart of the city, always pumping with activity. I have gotten to visit a few cool markets here in Korea; the most memorable was the fish market where I had fish guts spilled on my feet…haha
Duke Stewart says
You’re so right about why markets should be on your list. I love walking through these places not just for the spectacle but because there’s some really good food in these markets. Ben Thanh Market in HCMC is my favorite but each one is special in its own way, I say. Thanks for sharing this. It was great to travel to some of these through your perspective.
I love the markets, You get to meet some really nice people, try all kinds of local foods and for me it is a great way to learn about the place I am visiting.