04 May Travel Through Istanbul with Yener Torun

Photographer and architect, Yener Torun, represents a more fresh, colorful side of Istanbul. Yener found fame through his immediate success on Instagram, with over 151K loyal followers to date. We were dazzled by the colors and shapes he captures in his snapshots.

Originally an architect, how did you make the transition to photographer?
It all started with Instagram almost 4 years ago. Even the initial response to my Instagram posts were very positive, so that encouraged me to explore the world of photography further. As my following got bigger I started being recognized by giant media outlets like The Guardian and The Washington Post, and, thanks to that attention I have been able to have professional photography opportunities. That’s how my hobby became my job.

When taking your photos, what do you look for in terms of color?
Just because I always tend to spread positive vibes through my work, I look for bright colors and warm tones. These vibrant hues help me to ingrain an optimistic and playful tone to my graphic narrative.

Your work showcases a different, more colorful side of Istanbul. What inspired this?
Even at the very beginning I wanted to do something different and unusual. Historical areas of Istanbul are overly-used in photography and at some point all the photographs start to look the same to the viewer. Therefore I decided to visit lesser known parts of the city, which were the newly developing outskirts, and, my colorful findings were surprising and inspiring enough to start these series of photos.

How has Istanbul influenced you as an artist? What is the artistic atmosphere like?
Istanbul is an extremely inspiring place for any form of art. It’s the ultimate city of contrasts and it is constantly changing and full of surprises. You need to explore each and every corner of the city to discover its hidden gems. And when you find them there are infinite ways to transform them into art. I believe that every aspiring artist should visit Istanbul at least once.

You’ve described architecture as a tool for telling a story. What story do your photos tell us about Istanbul?
These stories are not actually about Istanbul, they are more personal stories about me. I just use architecture as the setting. Although most of these buildings are in Istanbul, in my pictures they don’t really look like they belong to a certain place, and that’s intentional. I try to abstract these structures from reality to repurpose them as settings to my personal stories. In other words I’m trying to picture an imaginary world (my inner world if you will) which is governed by colors and geometry. But of course this is what I only “try to do”. From a viewer’s perspective these photographs may be documenting lesser-known qualities of the ancient city of Istanbul as well. And if that’s how the audience wants to approach these photographs, I’m totally fine with that.

How does adding the element of people in your photos enhance the stories you are looking to tell?
Since I claim that these photographs are actually personal stories, adding the human element lets me to emphasize the story rather than the architecture. Actually human element is the only thing I can really “modify” in favor to the story. It helps me to expose the new purpose of the backdrop. If there’s a message to be told in the picture, the human element makes it easier for me deliver that message. In that regard, it’s a kind of a signature of mine as well.

What’s next? Do you have any events coming up?
In the last couple of years I had several exhibitions and I really want to continue to do more this year. Recently I completed a mini photo series titled “Symbiotes” which is now live on my website (yenertorun.net) and I’m currently working on 3 more mini-series which I guess will all be completed by June. I’m willing to make an exhibition for all these 4 but I haven’t arranged any locations yet. I also haven’t done any solo exhibitions outside of Turkey yet. That’s definitely my next goal!

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