Interview with James Turnley by Jeanette O’Keefe

James Turnley is a photographer, designer, and editor. Originally from Westchester, he is now living and working in New York City.

James’ photographs capture life’s simple pleasures – a nap in the park, a dog in the woods, a party with friends. They are fresh, clean and have a youthful energy. His online portfolios leave me craving more. The series Stereoscope Vision, a selection of his multi exposure photographs, includes images of classic movies with a twist. They are familiar faces in familiar scenes, doubled, tripled, and blurred.

James is also creator of Two for the Road, a blog exploring similarities between different images. He invites viewers to submit photographs into a group on Flickr, and ultimately curates these submissions into pairs. James’ visual duos can be abstract or funny. They are always interesting and thoughtful comparisons.

Stereoscope Vision is a series of multi exposure photographs. How did you get into shooting multi exposures? It seems like a tricky business. How do you choose what you shoot?

I started playing around with multiple exposures a couple years ago out of curiosity. I really liked the unpredictable nature of the images and how layering exposures added complexity to a frame. Taking multiple exposures can be tricky, but so can taking a single frame. Photography is hard whichever way you do it. I find that keeping things simple with layering is the best approach.



I love that you’ve concentrated mainly on classic movies. Why did you choose the movies and scenes that you did for this photo series?

I grew up watching classic movies, so they have always been a strong part of my visual vocabulary. When I was a kid, my parents would show me Alfred Hitchcock films rather than a popular Disney movie. This project is about appropriating those classic images that I know from my childhood and investigating them and reinterpreting them with older eyes. I am filled with such a strong sense of nostalgia watching certain films and the multiple layers is a metaphor for that.

I’m a big fan of your blog, Two for the Road. How did the idea of comparing two photographs side by side start? Has the blog evolved since you first started?

The blog started a little over a year ago at a time when I felt like taking photographs for myself wasn’t satisfying me enough. I was looking at hundreds of images a day and I felt like I wanted to work with the images I saw. There were already dozens of blogs showcasing single images and so I came up with the idea that I could create more of a dialogue by having images placed side by side. I was also drew inspiration from Tim Barber’s site TinyVices and the series of diptychs edited from Thobias Faldt’s photographs.

Two for the Road has not really evolved too much since starting in late ’09. I thought about ideas to expand it but in the end it was best to keep it simple. What has changed is that more people submit photographs on a weekly basis. It is awesome that people want to be featured on the site and it gives me a chance to see new work.



What work excites you the most at the moment? Shooting or editing?

Quite simply both do. I have phases where I’m more passionate about one than the other but overall they serve different purposes. Shooting my own photography is a more direct way for me to say something, while editing allows me to understand and organize the surplus of photographs out there.

Any ideas for upcoming projects?

I’m working on a new set of photographs that will take what I learned from Stereoscope Vision and other projects to expand on new ideas. I’m planning on incorporating still images, video and sound. I am also in the preliminary stages of editing and publishing a Two For the Road book.

Stereoscope Vision can be viewed at:
Lunasa – 126 1st Avenue New York, NY
March 8 – April 8, 2011