Dominic Turner

Book Review Dominic Turner – False Friends

© Dominic Turner

“I’m very interested in this interplay between what is real and what is not, what is true and what is false and whether we ever really know the difference….


─── by Elizabeth Kahn, May 6, 2024
  • Photography may give the impression of faithfully representing reality, but it doesn’t always convey absolute truth. Each image, even when seemingly straightforward, carries the subjective perspective of the photographer.

    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner. Tree branches in snow


    This subjectivity becomes especially apparent when images lack contextual information, sometimes leading to misinterpretation rather than clarification.

    Dublin-based Turner creates visually arresting imagery that blends elements of fine art with storytelling. He first encountered the term ‘False Friends’ (or ‘Faux Amis’)—referring to words in different languages that appear similar but have distinct meanings—in a French class. This resonated with him, as he says he ‘was always intrigued by this idea of being lured into a false sense of security and ultimately being caught out by it’.

    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner. Ladder against wall
    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner. Boy in mask stood against a tree


    This can occur through manipulation and deceit by others, such as leaders or authority figures, or through our own vulnerability to letting personal perceptions and interpretations cloud our judgment. This might result in a strong emotional reaction to something without a factual basis, or a misinterpretation of a situation due to insufficient information or personal biases. ‘False Friends’, his debut book, explores how a lack of context, information, or clarity can lead to an alternative reality.

    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner
    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner
    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner. Chair


    “I’m very interested in this interplay between what is real and what is not, what is true and what is false and whether we ever really know the difference, as well as how, as individuals and societies, we deal with this subject
    or if we even try to deal with it at all.”

    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner. Mountain landscape


    Joel Sternfeld, an early advocate of color photography, once observed, ‘Black and white is abstract; color is not. Looking at a black-and-white photograph, you are already looking at a strange world’, a sentiment that holds true in Turner’s work. His imagery depicts a familiar world, yet one that is, at the same time, strange, imbued with a distinct sense of surrealness.

    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner. Woman in wedding dress
    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner. Jellyfish


    Seemingly mundane scenes take on an eerie quality due to the monochrome palette, especially due to the strong emphasis on shadow. Viewers are compelled to scrutinize the images closely, searching for hidden elements, while the framing often suggests that only a fragment of the original scene is visible, encouraging further contemplation as to what truly unfolded.

    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner


    The textured tactility of Turner’s imagery enhances its abstract quality. Influenced by 19th-century pictorialists, he prioritizes both content and form, believing they are essential for a good photograph. However, he also places emphasize on specific post-production and printing techniques which have the ability to ‘elevate the emotional impact.


    For ‘False Friends’ Turner combined analog film (which he processed himself), digital darkroom techniques, and special Japanese papers which he found to closely mimic the feel of traditional analog printing. The final images seen in the book and online are scanned from the master print, rather than using the original digital file for printing, giving the process a nostalgic, almost ethereal quality.

    Black & white photography by Dominic Turner


    In an increasingly binary and polarized world, where information is but a touch away, yet in many ways, truth is increasingly difficult to discern, ‘False Friends’ stands as a fascinating body of work that compels us to consider the things we know to be real.

    It is a powerful example of abstract visual storytelling that is at once visually arresting, intriguing, and, for the writer of this review at least, somewhat disquieting.

     

    All images © Dominic Turner

    ‘False Friends’ is available to purchase via his website.