“Think of the most popular images of Turkey and especially Istanbul: grand mosques, old streets, ornate structures,” Yener Torun says. “Although I like the images of Istanbul that we’re used to, I think they reflect a very one-dimensional and superficial picture.”
And so over the past few years, Yener has taken his camera out into the streets of his home city, seeking to document it in a totally different way. A trained architect, his vibrant, colourful, beautifully-composed images have amassed a huge Instagram following and won over high-profile admirers like designer Jessica Walsh.
“Lines, patterns, textures and shapes in architecture have been a part of my life for a long time, and that helps me to see some details much more easily,” he explains. “And since I’ve been in the construction business for almost 10 years, I am usually aware of the new projects in the city and that helps me to find the best places for shooting.”
In just a couple of months Yener found people were engaging with his images, thanks not only to their aesthetic qualities but also because they are so unexpected. Simply put, they are not what we think Turkey looks like.
“From the very beginning, I was looking for something fresh, something never done before and so I stayed away from the over-used themes and locations. Outside of Istanbul, the city is often known for its mystical, Eastern qualities, but displaying the city’s modern and more Western face creates a more striking effect.
“Istanbul has been changing for a long time, but people always chose to stick to the nostalgic part of it, especially in photography. Thanks to the strong lines and vibrant tones in them, my images brought attention to these lesser-known, modern, suburban areas of the city.”
Yener admits he is not always crazy about the new developments springing up around the city, and captions like “Sweet Poison” and “Torn Apart” communicate his true feelings about some of the subjects to which he turns his lens.
But more generally, he is not really using his photography as a means of critiquing things he doesn’t like.
“I basically use these new buildings as raw materials to create work of art, and while doing that I also document this development in the outskirts of the city. I guess this documentation slowly changes the stereotypical perception of Istanbul.
“My work simply proves that there can be many different, fresh themes out there. You just need to go and grab them.”