WELD Artist of the Week: John [Can] Turkylimaz
Career: Photographer| Dream Analyst
Mantra: Individuality is best fulfilled within unity.
Interview by: Kristin Read
Tell me about your Turkish background and how it brought you stateside.
I was born and raised in Turkey and didn’t move to the states until 2000 when I was 25. My only knowledge of the English language was through trending movies and music, so I had a ways to go. I quickly joined a couple of graduate programs to dive in headfirst and learn the language. My last few years in Turkey were spent as a photojournalist and copywriter, where I realized my deep passion for storytelling and the camera. And when I moved to states, the language barrier caused me to heavily rely on photography as a way to communicate and express myself.
From what I’ve heard, you like to analyze dreams? Should I start by telling you one of mine and asking for your analysis of my sanity?
Take comfort in knowing that we’re all insane. Dreams are a good way for us to learn life’s lessons, because they offer almost instant feedback [from the deeper levels of your mind] of how you’ve spent your conscious/awake life. When your mind rests, the conscious mind can get out of the way and the subconscious is able to offer its feedback. I study dream analysis at a school in Dallas, but I also teach the practice as well —You learn things in a whole new way when you teach them.
Let’s hear about your study/practice of metaphysics. I’m intrigued.
I’ve actually been studying metaphysics for the past three-and-a-half years, and dream interpretation is just a small part of my studies. [If you’re unaware, metaphysics is the understanding that the physical world in which we live is simply a manifestation of our minds. In other words, we think so we become.] Along this journey, I’ve discovered that I have the potential to create [physically] whatever it is in life that I am after [mentally]. And if we’re all creators, we’re all equally responsible for the peace and love we hope for — it’s up to us to create it. Before this study, I didn’t realize that the only way to conquer life’s negativity is through my own positivity. I know now that it’s a waste of my energy to hate the haters.
How do you balance metaphysics and photography?
That’s the thing: We’ve all made a mess of ourselves by, in essence, creating multiple universes to compartmentalize our lives; which is so hard, if not impossible, to manage. And in my mind, everything’s connected. I’m learning that no matter where I am, or what I’m doing, I’m going to be myself. I try to be the same person all the time — father, teacher, son, artist, photographer, community activist. If I’m being one way in one aspect in my life, and different in another, I’m only hurting myself and limiting what I’m able to give.
How do you best work with light? Do you try to shoot at certain times of day to maximize natural light, or do you use artificial light to make your images pop?
I believe the best available light is the light that you have with you at any given moment. Whether it’s the sun, the ceiling bulb, or the off camera flash you have in your hand. I’m more focused on the subject and the emotion I’m trying to capture than the limitations of surrounding light. But I do love to shoot with the sun and see it captured in my frame.
As a photographer, what’s been the wildest thing you’ve captured?
In all reality, I think shooting portraits is a crazy thing to capture. In our line of work, we don’t have hours, we might have a good 15-20 minutes to capture a headshot that reflects who a person really is . . . I think we all have this urge to give of ourselves, but if the photographer isn’t receptive to what you’re trying to offer, they won’t take it. Think of it like this: If someone’s pouring water and you don’t have a cup ready to capture it, you’ll miss it. Photography is the art of listening — being receptive to the subject’s non-verbal communication and the energy they emanate . . . It’s fascinating when two people sit down and the only thing between them is this tool capable of freezing time. It’s a delicate game, and I love to play it.
What is something [whatever the medium] that you wish you were better at?
I struggle a lot with honesty — Not towards others, but towards myself. Sometimes I play out a scenario in my mind, and layout potential limitations, and falsely accept them as my character or identity. And it’s those nonexistent limitations that keep me from creating and/or connecting. So I’m learning to focus on potential before I see or create limitations.
Are there any creative websites that you visit daily?
I love to look at the work of those I personally know, so that I can better connect with them, their creations, and the thought process behind their creation. My views on light, and learning how to access my surroundings to best capture light, come from frequently visiting Strobist.com. And I also really enjoy visiting Photoeditor.com to learn from the successes of other talented photographers.
Do you feel collaboration is imperative to your success?
Individually, we can only perceive the world through one set of eyes, ears, a nose, whatever. But when we involve a second person, they add their own perception/reality. Resulting in double the ideas, thoughts, emotions, and creative abilities. Put simply, we learn in two ways: we do and we observe. And because we cannot possibly do everything, we observe much more than we realize . . . Collaboration with others allows us to learn through observation things we might not ever do on our own.