When we think of the term “travel photography,” it often incites expectations of stereotypical photographs meant to show off a person’s vacation. But recently, many photographers have pushed the boundaries of this genre to incorporate more conceptual work driven by a personal aesthetic rather than shiny, perfectly-packaged subject matter. One such photographer is Daniel Terna, whose series Things We Can Relate To is made up of photographs from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo, Los Angeles and New York City. Despite these geographically different contexts, the images are united by Terna’s eye for texture and color, bringing all of his diverse experiences together into one cohesive series. He explains, “I learned how to photograph in the American landscape road trip tradition – through photographers like Stephen Shore, Tim Davis, and Justine Kurland – but these days I find I’m more stimulated by details of interiors and exteriors in urban locations.”

From the series “Things We Can Relate To” © Daniel Terna

While Terna’s other work is more traditionally documentary in style, Things We Can Relate To offers an alternative outlet for his creativity. “All of these photos were taken impulsively and somewhat in the spur of the moment. It’s only afterwards, in the editing phase, when I begin to play around with combinations,” he explains. While some of the images stand on their own, he also fashions multiples into pairings or triptychs after he has had some distance from them. “I often put an image away for a year or more, forget about it, and dig it up later, reconnecting with it. I find myself doing this all the time: going through the photos and stumbling on something that felt unimportant at the time I took it.”

These accidental acts inject life and curiosity into Terna’s images, which, despite their varying locations, are brought together through his playful use of light and attraction to color, as well as his interest in architecture. “I’m drawn to places that require access to be entered and places that restrict movement,” he explains. “I often find lines, grids or panes of glass appearing in the foreground of my pictures, and I think this speaks to the tension I have about feeling restricted, and my tight crops of each photo are also meant to reinforce this sense of constriction.”

From the series “Things We Can Relate To” © Daniel Terna

Terna intentionally seeks these prohibited areas out while he is traveling, finding ways to integrate himself into his surroundings so he can photograph unnoticed. “I love poking around university campuses or massive, understaffed structures, pretending to belong there. I often find some really interesting things in science, architecture and medical departments. In public areas along the street, I gravitate towards small, dusty businesses that seem to be on the brink of closure.”

From the series “Things We Can Relate To” © Daniel Terna

As an ongoing project, Things We Can Relate To will continue to grow as long as Terna keeps shooting and maintains his interest in his camera’s relationship with whatever environment he finds himself in. Explaining his perpetual interest in the work, Terna says, “Harsh light, tight crops, looking down from above – and also looking through things – reinforces a sense of the omnipresent camera. While these pictures are quite clear and almost clinical, like photographic evidence, when they are assembled together they are more like a group of snapshots. To me, this grouping has an open-endedness, with multiple narratives of experiences within a single moment.”