ARTIST OF THE WEEK: YENER TORUNJuly 27, 2016
Trained architect and Istanbul-based photographer, Yener Torun creates popping images of striking architecture, featuring colour-coordinated subjects. Picking out bold textures, lines and patterns, Yener’s work adds a splash of happiness to a troubled political landscape.
We caught up with Yener about discovering his interest in photography, the difficulty of finding bright shoot locations in a city crowded with ornate and traditional architecture, and the healing nature of art in troubled times.
UO: How did you discover an interest in photography, and specifically for architectural photography?
I had no serious experience in photography before Instagram. I used to take photos on my vacations, but I never adopted any sort of style. They were just regular holiday photographs that you see every day on Facebook. Even my very first Instagram photos were some holiday photos but in time I built a style which was influenced by minimalism and street photography.
I wouldn’t exactly call my work architectural photography. I’m not always interested in the architectural value of the structures I photograph. Instead, I mostly focus on the colours, lines, textures and patterns in them. Architecture is the field where I find these tones and geometric elements more often. And actually, I’m trained as an architect. That probably helps me to see these details in buildings more easily than in anything else. Nevertheless, I have no issue with people seeing my work as architectural photography.
UO: How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Geometric, vibrant and minimalist
UO: Film or digital?
Digital. Honestly, I have zero experience with film.
UO: What is your favourite camera to shoot with?
I’ve been using a Samsung NX1 mirrorless camera with several different lenses for almost a year and I am really happy with it.
UO: How do you discover these colourful shoot locations in a city like Istanbul?
It’s the hardest part for sure. Istanbul is a vast city full of grey and bland buildings and the central area mostly consists of older and ornate structures. That forces me to explore the outskirts of the city. I spend hours wandering around some neighbourhoods I’ve never been before. It’s a bit like a treasure hunt and that aspect makes it even more challenging but also exciting. I sometimes visit these places more than once at various times of day to study the effects of light and shadows.
UO: What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced to get the perfect shot?
Finding the shoot location is always the biggest challenge. But I have also faced some particular difficulties after finding the location. I have to confess that I’ve had to trespass a couple of times to get the best shots. I once waited for almost three hours in front of a factory under the midday sun until someone used its fire escape. It was quite overwhelming. But whatever the challenge is, it’s always worth it.
UO: It is a pretty turbulent time for Turkey right now – how do you see photography as something that can help people deal with the troubles of daily life?
The last few months have been especially traumatic for the whole state and personally, photography has been my only cure in this process. In fact, any form of art can help people through tough times. In the last few years photography helped me to deal with any kind of problem and now it continues to do so. I occasionally intend to spread optimistic vibes by using warm and bright colours and every time I try to add a little bit humour to create a positive image. It’s my method of self-rehabilitation. I guess I find some silver linings in the new worlds that I create.
UO: How do you think living in Istanbul has impacted your work and how you approach creative projects?
Outside of Turkey, Istanbul is mostly known for its historical and Eastern qualities with its bazaars, old streets and ornate structures. The most popular images of Istanbul are taken in these places. But it is also a developing, modern city and I’ve been witnessing this change since I moved here fifteen years ago. This non-stop evolution inspired me to escape from the stereotypical perception of the city and I started looking for modern lines, geometric patterns and vivid colours in these new and developing areas. I believe this approach provides a better understanding of the city by creating a strong contrast to ancient and nostalgic Istanbul image in people’s minds. Actually, Istanbul is a city of contrasts by all means and after years of living here I found a way to transform some of these contrasts into works of art, I guess.
UO: Are there any particular themes you enjoy exploring in your work?
I enjoy taking photos of people a lot. Hence I stage scenes of people interacting with the colourful and geometric backdrops I find. I use geometry to abstract the background from reality to create an alternate world with its own physics. When I use a model I carefully choose the colours of their clothes to create a more striking effect. I usually colour-coordinate the outfits with the background to provide a more organic connection between the human element and the environment they are in.
UO: Are there any buildings you are dying to shoot but haven’t gotten around to it yet?
There are many. I already have a list of some European cities to visit in the future. Actually, I’ve been to some of these places before but I wasn’t into photography at the time. Madrid, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are the top three on the list. I also want to revisit larger cities such as London and Paris to explore their lesser-known parts and unearth their hidden gems.
UO: What is your favourite style of architecture and why?
I am a big fan of unpredictability and chaotic order of deconstructivism.