May 10, 2019Comments are off for this post.

Light bursts

May 9, 2019Comments are off for this post.

Out of focus images

Back when I started photographing one of the main rules or critiques I kept hearing and seeing on the photography forums or the places where people would give feedback to your work was for the images to be sharp and clear. 

 

But as it happens with any advice, it's very much contextual and dependent on the photograph (and here you can replace it with painting, drawing, writing etc.). Sometimes what you need or want to express follows no rules or needs new ones. That is why you might hear you need to learn the rules so you can break them. But successfully breaking the rules usually comes with intention and with the knowledge of why you're doing it. 

 

When it comes to out of focus images, I enjoy them quite a lot. They can convey certain moods and feelings that are far more expressive than a clear image. They tell more by hiding things. And sometimes I feel a bit out of focus too, so I put it in my photographs. 

 

out of focus ioana birdu
candid portrait
ioana birdu portraits

January 6, 2019Comments are off for this post.

The fairy

Fairies are enchanted creatures or spirits known to possess magical powers. Fairies always fascinated human kind yet, as history had proven, the interferences between the two realms often caused problems and misgivings. 

And so a truce was made, that no soul or creature was to trespass the other world without suffering horrible consequences.

For centuries no one dared to disobey the agreement and time took its toll on it. Humans forgot all about fairies, confined them to myths and legends and foolishly convinced themselves they were all products of their imagination.

But fairies never forgot and, bound by curiosity, they sometimes take human form and walk on the forbidden land once more.

January 23, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Storytelling through mirrors

 

I like using mirrors in my photographs, they tell me interesting stories.

connections

© Ioana Bîrdu

October 10, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Walk In The Woods

I’ve been living in these woods for hundreds of years. Some might think it's a long time, but to me it feels like yesterday. The forest is all I know. 

Beacon wood county park

My kind lives in the trees,

Beacon wood county park

amid the leaves 

or inside the great dotted mushrooms.

Beacon wood county park

We share the woods with other creatures, like the hoomans. They can’t see us, but they know they’re not alone and in their own peculiar way, they protect us.

Beacon wood county park

Sometimes I believe they actually know we're there, because they spend a good lot of time looking at our houses. 

Most of the time, they come here when the sun still shines in the sky. 

beacon wood county park

They seem curious about our land and not dangerous at all.

Beacon wood county park

Beacon wood county park

In fact, they look quite nice.

Beacon wood county park

These ones brought something I haven’t seen before. It was round and bouncy and they used their body to push it and pass it around from one to the other.

Beacon wood county park

Beacon wood county park

I followed them around and saw other hoomans coming our way. They had a weird creature with them, looked scary at first but in the end I concluded there was no danger. 

Beacon wood county park

My hoomans also passed near my cousin Moolch’s house. Good thing ol’ Moolch wasn’t home that day, he gets the heebie jeebies so fast.  

Beacon wood county park

After a while the hoomans stopped in a clearing and kicked the round object again and again. I think it was some kind of game.

Beacon wood county park

beacon wood county park

Several hours later they left. Just in time, I thought, cause I was starting to feel hungry.

Beacon wood county park

August 4, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Swanley Park

 

Swanley Park looks like any other park. 

But terrifying creatures lurk in the shadows...

Like this one 

or this one

Some couldn't help but watch in awe.

We decided to play it cool and went undercover.

And when everything was safe and clear we tried our kite flying skills. First we practiced,

but things soon got tangled.

So we called for reinforcements.

Reinforcement came, 

 reinforcement got tired. 

August 1, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Grandma’s House

 

Last week, after a walk in in the park, we went to spend some time with grandma at her house.  

And while the boys got all busy playing in the garden

I began exploring and went on an adventure of my own.

Listened to some cool tunes ♪♫♬

found a place where time stands still

guarded by wise elders

who secretly go for a tea break, when no one is watching. 

Met Archibald, the house gardener, who loves playing cricket

and discovered this beautiful bird house 

who's jealous on this bird house. 

And this is Saturday, a treasure hunter, who wants to dig a tunnel from here  

all the way to there.

June 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Interview with photographer Cosmin Bumbuț

© Cosmin Bumbuț

Cosmin Bumbuț is a romanian photographer who used to work in the fashion and advertising industry. He later gave up this lifestyle and decided to switch to documentary photography and live in a camper. I've talked to him about his decision to make that move, how it is to live as a freelancer and the stories he's telling through photography.

This interview was first published on Documentaria, a photojournalism platform created by a group of amazing people who want to show, through photography and facts, bits and pieces of Romania.

*

You’ve been working as an independent photographer since 1993. How is it to live like this?

I can’t remember how it is to live other than as a freelancer. The last time I’ve been employed was as a photographer for the Nottara theatre. I had to photograph new shows and to enlarge the photographs from the plays. To enlarge, not to print, because I did did in a classical way in their lab, where I developed films and optically enlarged photographs. I had an enlarger which, in order to make the 50x70 photographs that were to be exposed in the window, I had to turn it upside down on the table to project the image on the floor. I enjoyed working at the theatre, I liked the community there and the fact that my colleagues were actors.

As a freelancer you are alone, just you and your assistant, and you develop a sort of conjunctural friendship with various clients you get along well or work more often with. Sometimes you can chose what to work on. On the other hand, there is always a stress when the phone doesn’t ring for a long period of time and you’re afraid no one will ever call and that’s it with your career.

But now, I do a different type of freelancing - since I’ve given up fashion I’m not interested in the commercial side anymore and I stay away from the advertising industry. When I turned 40 I realised I didn’t want to do that anymore and I want to work on projects I believe in. Now it’s harder to live from freelancing - and to work only on subjects that interest me - since it was when I did fashion and advertising. Nonetheless, since november 2013 when I moved in a camper with my girlfriend, my costs dropped considerably. The less money you need to live, the more freedom you get to do what you like. Today I live from grants and from the money I get from the postcards. Those who follow our projects on Teleleu.eu - the website me and Elena publish our stories about today’s Romania - can support us through buying subscriptions to our postcards: once every two weeks I print and send via post a photograph from the places we travel to. Even though I earn much less then when I worked as a commercial photographer, the support we get from these people moves me and offers me a greater satisfaction: I feel that my photographs matter and all these people who support me appreciate my work.

What triggered the switch from commercial to documentary photography and what changes did this decision bring with it?

I took the Bumbata photographs during a full commercial period, probably at its peak, when I was very well paid both in fashion and advertising. My trips to Aiud were like small getaways, I didn’t have layouts to respect, art directors to please and deadlines for yesterday. I photographed in my own rhythm, with lots of mistakes which (I hope) I corrected along the way, I learnt to interact with other people from different fields that I usually used to photograph. And all these things overlaid with a period in my life where I finally figured out that money, fame, a house and a new car don’t bring happiness.

I needed a couple of years to convince myself of this and another couple to find the courage to admit that it’s more important to be proud of what I was going to do from then on than the money I earned up to that point. So I changed the first question I asked my customers from “how much money will you pay me?” to “how does the project look like?”.

North Train station, Bucharest, 1992 © Cosmin Bumbuț

You’ve started posting on Facebook and Instagram old photographs you took in the ‘90. What that experience meant to you and how does it feel to rediscover the photographs now?

The ‘90s was a period of good schooling for me. I was lucky enough not to have money for films and shoot less than I’d liked to or not be able to develop a subject that I felt had the potential, because my film was over. I believe in the first years, 1990 -1993, I shot an average of two films a week. I was lucky with the magazine Dilema, which payed for my films and developers for several years and, for the first time, I could put Kodak films into my camera.

Since 2004, I’ve archived everything I shot on film from 1992 to 2008 when I started shooting exclusively on digital cameras. I’ve gathered about 75 000 images scanned at 700 px. Last winter I looked over the photographs shot in the ‘90s and I told myself to scan some of them at maximum resolution, see how they looked and how they hold on, on a bigger screen. Besides the cloth that stuck in the emulsion from the developing of 20 years ago, the images seem ok. What’s odd is the fact that despite my memory is bad - I forget people’s names I recently met, I forget things that happened - I haven’t forgotten any image from those I shot on film, I haven’t forgotten where I took it or how I felt in that moment.

Visually impaired, Bucharest, 1994 © Cosmin Bumbuț

Has your perspective on the subjects or on photography in general changed in any way?

It’s nice to see those images; I discover my way of thinking back then or how I didn’t interact; I see my shyness and lack of experience and, more than anything, the fact that I hadn’t developed or shot more than one subject because I didn’t have films. I used the normal lens and medium telephoto lens more, while now I use more the medium superangular and very rare the normal lens. I also became more courageous and I managed to overcome my fear of interacting with the subject.

Cosmin Bumbut

Apa Sărată, Maramureș, 1993 © Cosmin Bumbuț

Do you have something in mind with this series?

I didn’t plan anything at first, but posting a part of them on Instagram and Facebook I instantly received positive feedback and encouragements to publish them in an album. Now I’m thinking about it, maybe I will make it, but for the moment I still have a lot of scanning to do to finish the 90’s - 2000. My images from a different century.

On the website you and Elena tell stories about people. What impact had these stories on your lives?

It’s strange that we recently remembered moments from past years, from the times we documented stories on domestic violence and people opened up to us and talked to us about their traumas. Of course they charged as emotionally, some of our friends who we used to tell about the things we saw or heard recommended us a psychologist.

We used to unbent by doing a different type of work, this is how we documented the bisons from Târgu Neamț: I didn’t want to hear about anything sad and we went into a forest to tell a story about wild animals.

© Cosmin Bumbuț

By now you’ve photographed stories of people who live in Cuba, people who live in prisons, kids with rare diseases and other hard topics. Which of them put you out of your comfort zone the most?

The hardest thing was to photograph the sick children. We were at Center Noro in Oradea, I photographed in a part of the building, Elena took interviews in a different one. Our camper was parked in the yard and we met there periodically to cry without being seen. When we saw each other with tears in the corners of our eyes we bursted into laughter and mock ourselves: “such a pro!”

Intermediates for health” is a project that shows how simple people change the life of their peers for the better. Do you think projects like this can generate similar behaviours in those who see the photographs?

Yes, definitely. The people who do these things feel encouraged when someone tells their story, when someone is interested and cares about their work, and those who hear about these stories find out they can do a something, that there are solutions and that you must be willing to make an effort to help.

© Cosmin Bumbuț

What responsibility do you feel towards the people you’re photographing?

First of all I respect them. I’d like them to feel relaxed around me, even if I have the camera close to my eye. I don’t photograph them in possible embarrassing situations, because if you spend enough time with your subject you get to see that too. So I show them that by taking the camera from my face in those moments. I believe you can’t get their trust and honesty without it. All these things will show in the final photographs.

On the website you mention you live from grants, collaborations and postcard subscriptions. Do you think documentary photography can become a sellable product for the general public?

No. Right now the online space is too saturated with images and photography stories of any kind that it’s difficult to convince someone to pay money to see yours. I can’t see a mechanism for this at the moment, but it’s clear that photojournalism and documentary photography are reinventing themselves. The future is crowdfunding and donations coming from an educated audience who understands that.  

How difficult is it to work on long term projects from a financial point of view?

We have far less money than we had when I was a commercial photographer and Elena was deputy editor in chief at Marie Claire. When we have money we spend them, when we don’t we cook beans and potatoes. Our needs are smaller than they were back when we payed rent in Bucharest. We can spend as much time as we need on a subject we’re documenting. The cost equals the cost of the period we don’t work. We don’t pay rent because we live in the car, food is cheaper, we don’t do restaurants because we don’t have to socialise in expensive places anymore, a great part of our electric needs are coming through solar energy, we ask water from people and the gas is expensive but if we spend more time in the same place it doesn’t matter. When you live in a camper it’s very easy to work on long term projects, but to get to live there,  that’s a different story 🙂

What are 3 important things someone who want to pursue documentary photography needs to learn or know?

To photograph only subjects that she likes or she understands, to be open minded and non judgemental, to learn to listen better than she photographs.

***

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed this interview say Hello on

April 3, 2017Comments are off for this post.

On learning photography and anything really

I started taking photographs because my brother did it and I wanted to see if I could do it too. I found it fun and interesting and in time it became a way of self expression. After several years it also became a source of income.

So how did I learn doing it?

I’m seeing my learning process as a journey that hasn’t ended yet. I started with nothing but curiosity, I made a lot of mistakes, met new people and learned to pay attention. And above all, I took a lot of photographs. Like, A LOT. But let’s start with the beginning.

Alexandra © Ioana Bîrdu

I started with the basics

The most important thing when learning photography is to know these three elements of the camera - the aperture, the shutter speed, the ISO - and the relationship between them. But when I started I was too impatient, I wanted things then and there. After a long process of trial and error and a lot of frustration that the images in my head were miles away from the ones I actually made, I took learning the basics seriously. So I began reading books and I also took an online free class that explained all the technical things in an easy to digest way. And then a new world opened up to me.

This was one of my first photographs

I played

Photographing was always fun for me and I believe we learn things faster and easier if we find joy and excitement in what we do. Like most beginner photographers, I started with macros of flowers, animals or random things I found on my way. I was always delighted and curious to discover the small worlds living around me and I never stopped playing.

This was one of the photos I was really proud of. Can't even begin to tell you all the wrong things about it 🙂

I learned from others

As I moved along I decided I wanted to connect with other people who were doing the same thing.  I also wanted to show my photos which I believed were amazing. Needles to say they pretty much sucked. Anyway, I started joining different photography forums and communities where I got a lot of feedback, I began consuming a lot of images and educated myself visually by learning how to look and analyse photographs. I also found out the camera is less important than what you do with it and that there were photographs that despite their perfect technical delivery didn’t have much else.

Raluca © Ioana Bîrdu

I tried different things and found out what I like.

As I started doing more and more photography and got a hang on how the camera works, I began playing with a lot of different photography genres and subjects. I photographed people and building and landscapes and food to discover that what really interested me were the people. Then I began photographing them in different settings. I went to concerts and tried event photography, I worked as a trainee for professional photographers and learned how to do wedding photography, I worked at a magazine and did some commercial photography. I also took a photojournalism class where I learned I didn’t want to do that, but I learned precious lessons on how to tell a story and how to look at things.

Andrea © Ioana Bîrdu

I practiced a lot

No matter what you want to learn, the thing that will bring you most knowledge is to do the actual work. No matter how much you read or look at what others do, nothing will teach you better than practice. This is how I learned how to use my camera, how to see the light, how to compose a photograph, how to be less shy around people and how to capture emotions.  

I continued learning

I am a firm believer in the act of lifelong learning. I don’t think that once you’ve finished school or passed a certain age you stop learning. Now I’m in a point where I’m looking to expand my knowledge and learn new things. I want to study more about color and light, learn stuff from other fields and use that in my photographs.

Lastly, if there’s anything I want you to take out from this article is this: start small, practice a lot and try to keep it fun as much as possible.