March 29, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Barcelona

street photography ioana birdu

street photography ioana birdu

street photography ioana birdu barcelona

street photography ioana birdu barcelona

street photography ioana birdu barcelona

street photography ioana birdu barcelona

street photography ioana birdu barcelona

street photography ioana birdu barcelona

street photography ioana birdu barcelona

street photography ioana birdu barcelona

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

September 6, 2017Comments are off for this post.

I’m Starting to Really Like Street Photography

phone photography

I have a confession.

I have a crush on street photography.

I'm still far from being a good street photographer but I decided to start documenting my experiences and see how I evolve. And maybe, if there are any street photography enthusiasts among you, it might be useful to you as well. 

street portrait Istanbul

Portrait of a man on the streets of Istanbul, 2011.

 

street photography Turkey

Man in Turkish carriage picks up a bag of carrots to feed his horse. Istanbul, Turkey 2011

First, a short personal history with street photography

Looking back, I think I began to find interest in street photography since my first days of Erasmus scholarship. I spent five months in Turkey, a country full of colors and contrasts and wonderful stories. The thing is, I was so engrossed in everything the Erasmus experience brought my way, that I didn’t rationalize it, I just photographed.

In the following years I focused my attention mostly on portrait and event photography and every once in awhile I shot things I found interesting on the street. 

Then a year ago I moved to London and the feelings sparked again, this time stronger. And that's why, I decided to act on them and see how far I can go.

phone and street photography

So what is it about street photography that makes me enjoy it so much?

Mainly, street photography enables for me another way to create and tell stories. Stories that I can shoot anywhere, anytime, with any camera.

There are also other reasons that make it worthwhile for me:

I learn to pay attention 

In the past I used to find it hard to get out of my own head. I commuted from one point to the other in a ghostly like mode and when I got to a certain destination I couldn’t recall one single thing I saw on my way. That’s not necessary a bad thing, especially when you want to disconnect, but it also meant I missed things.

Street photography teaches me to be more connected with the outside world and to appreciate the beauty in the mundane. I don’t need to go to far away locations to find beauty and to experience brief moments of joy. Often a closer, more attentive look teaches me so much. I notice how people walk and talk, their posture or their mood in that particular moment. I see funny and interesting scenes that play in front of my eyes like a short movie.

ice cream seller

Ice cream seller, Sakarya Adapazari 2011

Mannequins, Birmingham 2017.

I get to know myself better

In an interview, Neil Gaiman says he needs to write things down to learn what he thinks about something. Similarly, my street photos show me what I pay attention to, what I find beautiful and interesting or not so beautiful. Ultimately they show me a glimpse of my reality.

phone photography

Chris in sunlight

phone photography

Chris blending in

kebab shop turkey street photo

Men preparing and selling sandwiches and shawarma in Sakarya, Turkey. 2010

kebab shop turkey street photo

Men preparing and selling sandwiches and shawarma in Sakarya, Turkey. 2010

Street photography makes me more visually curious and pumps up my creativity. Looking at my photos I discovered I'm very interested in colors, shapes and lines. How they combine, how they point things out or how they create a certain mood. And how I, as an active observer, sometimes build up, become part of that scene and transform it.  

 

street geometry

Self portrait on the street

istanbul lights

City lights, Istanbul, Turkey 2010.

The process challenges me

In street photography you can observe passively or get involved. Right now I find myself in the first category.

“Taking a portrait of someone – be it man or woman – starts with a conversation.” – Martine Franck

The passive position is easy, comfortable. For example now I’m covering family workshops at the V&A museum. I go where I'm supposed to shoot, get close to the kids and their families, observe and document what’s happening. It’s easy because all those people know what I’m there for, they accept me from the start and I don't need to make an effort and get out of my comfort zone. 

The challenge on the street for me is to go over my social anxiety, get closer, connect with people and create powerful images.

My main fear is that someone might get aggressive or do something to my camera. That never actually happened and talking nice to people, smiling or telling them why I took their picture always helped. But to be honest I rarely get close enough. The fear is still inside my head. So everytime I go out I try to be a little braver and do a little better.

Blending in

Man on a street in London

street portrait

Portrait of D on the street

Finally, I found these little exercises to be helpful and maybe they'll be useful to you too. 

  • chose something to pay attention to for several days - like a color, a geometric shape or shadows; you don't need to photograph just observe.
  • leave your headphones in the bag and listen to the sounds of the street, look at people, eavesdrop on conversations.
  • shoot more than just one photo of a scene, change your perspective, find the best composition
  • the smaller the camera the better --> try shooting with your phone for an entire week
  • follow the light

And most importantly enjoy it!

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

February 2, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Duncan

Sometimes we go through experiences that overwhelm us. We feel alone and helpless, or need someone to share the little things that bring us joy. Other times we rush into judging others without knowing them or having any idea about the things they’ve been through.

I started Connections in a time when my life didn’t look to colorful or happy and it served as a self therapeutic exercise. Then more people got hooked into it and I decided to take it further.

This project is an exercise of introspection and sincerity, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that put a mark on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.

It’s a project that continues to do me good and I hope you’ll get something good out of it as well.

*

Did you use to invent stories when you were little?

Playfully, yes. I miss the fact that the stories I would make up cross boundaries - into space and the past and the present, knights and aliens and whatever I could get my hands on. That’s interesting to me, rather than the nostalgia for toys of the past which are linked to the future with some ideal about learning to code. It’s the imagination and creativity which went into whiling away the hours. Childhood is a magical time, in the sense that nothing is grounded in reality - when you’re little you don’t really have a grounded sense of time and place, so inventing stories is part of the process of figuring out what’s really happening.

One game I played was about watching a small figure running alongside us in the car, where I sat in the back with my brother, staring out the window and seeing this figure jumping on walls, around people, over street signs, always racing to keep up with us. I think a lot of people saw that too. I don’t remember what stories I made up though - no characters from that time have survived the transition from childhood to adulthood, and I miss that.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

Watching my father come home through the window in our living room. He travelled a lot, first as a sailor and later in a job which I didn’t fully understand, but which often seemed to take him to the middle east, or America. I remember him coming home, and simultaneously not knowing who he was whilst unquestionably knowing he was my father.

Tell me about a person who changed/influenced your life.

There are two - years ago when I was lost and in need of some direction. I went to an art college and the two English teachers there somehow managed to shape me into something worthwhile. It's the classic one-teacher-you-never-forget, except I was lucky enough to have two of them. Both held a passion for what they did, and I know I probably made them question that a few times, but they instilled something valuable in me, and I'll always be grateful that they were able to look deeper than anything else before, and see a way to make me stand for for things I believed in.

I revisit those days quite often, but I hadn't realised it until I answered this question. I don't really know how to spot talent, or how to nurture and develop it, but I feel like they did and that kept me going for a long time.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

That I can be distant and uncommunicative.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

Ah, there are so many people I could mention. There are so many low-level moments of kindness, but I love those as much as the grand gestures. As someone who's travelled for work quite intensely, I've come to appreciate the small acts of kindness from strangers in strange places as much as anything else.

The one which sticks in my mind is from last summer, arriving back in London on a delayed flight. Helping another lost traveller get home when the trains had stopped running, then finding myself in the back of a taxi with very little money. That taxi driver took pity on me and drove me all the way home even though I couldn't afford it. It's late at night, I'm broke and someone goes out of their way to get me home, I wouldn't say it restored my faith in people, but it made me feel good about wanting to always believe in people.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

Once, when I was smaller, I remember walking with my mother and finding something on the floor. It was money, I knew it was something important. She picked it up and we'd found a £50 note. We were standing outside of a funeral parlour too, so a sad story pretty much wrote itself there and then. We handed the money in and heard nothing back, but I hope that action was received by someone who needed it.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

When I was trying to figure out who I was. Or rather, which person I wanted to be, of all people who were an option. There’s no-one who can make that decision for you. As I grew into adulthood I remember being overwhelmingly scared and I resisted for a long time. Looking back, I was lucky to have the time and the ability to make those choices, and to a certain degree my hesitance meant that a lot of options became closed off very quickly.

There's a difference between being alone and being lonely. I could be alone for a long time and often I'll need that. But a little bit of loneliness goes a very long way, and I'd do most anything to avoid that.

Duncan, 41 years old

*Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*

November 17, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Chris

Chris is one of my closest friends. She's one of the most talented and disciplined people I know, a lifelong learner and an inspiring person. And now that I've moved to a different country I miss her terribly. 

November 13, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Thoughts on Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York

"I'm rebooting my life entirely, again. It's time for Andrew 5.0."

"I'm rebooting my life entirely, again. It's time for Andrew 5.0."

Brandon Stanton’s art looks like something easy and fun to do, but behind the beautiful images and the heart whelming stories there’s a lot of work and commitment. During the last six years Brandon photographed thousands of people, first in New York and afterwards in cities from over twenty countries like Pakistan, Iran, India, Ukraine, Vietnam.

Before all the attention and success and before his stories could have a positive impact on the world, Brandon used to work as a bond trader. Like many of us, he believed he needed to make money first and focus on his creative endeavours afterwards, but soon realized that wasn’t the path for him. After getting fired from his job he changed his mindset and decided to figure out a way to do what he loved doing, while making enough money to survive. He started Humans of New York as a photography project that involved photographing 10 000 New Yorkers on the street. So in the first three months all he did the entire day was to go outside and take photos of strangers. Somewhere along the way, his attention shifted to the people and what they had to say and focused less on the images themselves. In time the conversations they had turned into short interviews that eventually felt more and more like therapy sessions.

How is it possible that so many people opened up in such a deep way to a stranger who happened to stop them on the street?  

“She has such a deep joy for life. She’s the one that taught me that no matter what happens, we’ll be just fine. I’ve always been so serious and ambitious, but I haven’t always been able to live up to my own standards. I wanted to get into a top law school, but that didn’t happen-- I went to a fourth tier law school instead. Then after I graduated, I kept failing to get the job I wanted. But after each setback, she always gave me the sense that no matter what happened, we’d be just fine. She taught me that early on. So when her health problems started, I knew that even if she’s never able to walk again—we’ll be just fine."

“She has such a deep joy for life. She’s the one that taught me that no matter what happens, we’ll be just fine. I’ve always been so serious and ambitious, but I haven’t always been able to live up to my own standards. I wanted to get into a top law school, but that didn’t happen-- I went to a fourth tier law school instead. Then after I graduated, I kept failing to get the job I wanted. But after each setback, she always gave me the sense that no matter what happened, we’d be just fine. She taught me that early on. So when her health problems started, I knew that even if she’s never able to walk again—we’ll be just fine."

To answer that, think about the times you’ve spoken to someone who didn’t have any misconception about you, any previously altered idea. Or the times you’ve been talking to someone whose mind was focused 100% on you and only you. Not so many, isn’t it? Brandon’s genuine interest and curiosity in people led him to a kind of connection unfamiliar to many and when they’ve found it, they embraced it hungrily. Brandon also says he sometimes gets to a point in the conversation when he asks people things they themselves haven’t been thinking of up to that point, so they have a breakthrough in discovering something hidden deep inside of them and this can be very overwhelming. No wonder the experience feels like therapy, it is liberating and it’s followed by hugs and cries and gratitude.

After discovering his story one thing stood out, just as it does for every other person who achieved great things, and that is the effort and the discipline put into the work. I only recently began to understand how important these two things are. To be honest, I’m not there yet. I still procrastinate and have days when I don’t feel like doing the work and it’s hard to put myself in the best mindframe. In moments like that, when my intrinsic motivation takes a break, I go to people like him and one way or another i get my mojo back.

“I started working at the furniture store when I was 27. I had two children, and we’d been living in a shelter, so I was excited to start work again. But it’s been five years now. I work in the Pots and Plants Department. I make sure everything stays clean and stocked and I help people can find what they’re looking for. There’s always work to be done, so I do feel like I accomplish something every day. But I just don’t feel like I’m contributing very much to society. I’d like to try something else, but it’s hard to start something new. I come home exhausted, I get to spend a little time with my kids, and then the day is over.”

“I started working at the furniture store when I was 27. I had two children, and we’d been living in a shelter, so I was excited to start work again. But it’s been five years now. I work in the Pots and Plants Department. I make sure everything stays clean and stocked and I help people can find what they’re looking for. There’s always work to be done, so I do feel like I accomplish something every day. But I just don’t feel like I’m contributing very much to society. I’d like to try something else, but it’s hard to start something new. I come home exhausted, I get to spend a little time with my kids, and then the day is over.”

So how does one get here? How do you get to meet so many people, listen to their most intimate stories, help them and create an immense community around your work? Do you need special skills, do you need a good charisma, do you need luck? In all the years he’s done it, Brandon learnt stuff, stuff that he shared in interviews and speeches, such as the two from Creative Live that you can find at the end of this article. Do watch them when you have some time, if not have no fear. I selected some of my favorite advice and ideas from the interviews that that you might find helpful as well.

Don’t just do enough work to feel comfortable. Work hard and show up every day.

Don’t do a comfortable number of photos and call yourself a photographer. Do not use following your dreams as an excuse not to work hard, but because following your dreams correctly is nothing but hard work.

Happiness comes in many forms and you must find your own. Working on finding the best idea or the best strategy to get rich doesn’t always work but the thing we can do is focus on figuring out a way to do what we love, all day long.

Own your time, be in control.

Speaking of control, the only thing you can control is yourself and your reactions to the reality that unfolds before you. For him that meant focusing on how to become a better photographer and storyteller, rather than how his images would be perceived by others.

Gear is not that important. Being a photographer myself I’ve seen lots of people hurrying to get the most expensive cameras and lenses hoping their images will be better or more beautiful. But the thing is, the gear doesn’t make the photography, the art, the story. We do.

Commit to yourself. Focus on your work and commit to it, even if you don’t have the best equipment, even if you don’t feel like it. Commit and do it every day. This is hard work, and I’ve had so many days when I just didn’t want to write or work on my projects, but committing to something and doing it on a daily basis creates a shift of perspective in our mind. I started doing this a year ago with my morning pages. Every day when I wake up I do three pages of longhand writing and I’ve got to a point when it comes naturally and I'm super excited to do them. 

You’ll be the first person to get bored of your work, but boredom is a good thing, because it helps you move forward and makes you ask yourself questions that will guide your next steps into becoming better and happier with your own work.  

And finally, listen and pay attention to people. I know it’s hard to stop the voices in our head, to stop connecting everything to ourselves, to pause our inner dialogue but it can be done. And once we do that we can finally see the universe hidden in the person in front of us. Only then we learn and connect and enrich our lives.

Once again, I strongly recommend you watch these interviews and take your own good, inspiring mojo out of them. If you liked this article, please share it with someone you think might like it too. Enjoy!

For cool photography articles, insights, classes and other useful resources check out the Creative Live website. 

 

October 25, 2016Comments are off for this post.

George

Sometimes we go through experiences that overwhelm us. We feel alone and helpless, or need someone to share the little things that bring us joy. Other times we rush into judging others without knowing them or having any idea about the things they’ve been through.

I started Connections in a time when my life didn’t look to colorful or happy and it served as a self therapeutic exercise. Then more people got hooked into it and I decided to take it further.

This project is an exercise of introspection and sincerity, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that put a mark on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.

It’s a project that continues to do me good and I hope you’ll get something good out of it as well.

*

Did you use to invent stories when you were a little boy? What were they about?

Yes. Somehow I got the idea I was good at writing, although It wasn’t something i later developed because of my law carrier. Nonetheless, I do remember how i used to sit on a chair at my grandparents house and tried to write meaningful stories that i would later read to my grandma. I can’t remember what they were about but i know for sure my characters were people with no super powers. I think this is why I always loved Batman, he had cash, no super powers.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

My childhood is filled with beautiful memories. I don’t believe in fate or luck, you know. I do believe that all the good things that happen to us are our own creations, results of our past actions. But not to completely disappoint the adepts of Good fortune, i believe humans can get lucky once in their lives and that is when they are born in a certain family or environment. That’s the only fact you have no influence upon and that is pure luck. Having said that, I consider myself one of the luckiest people alive. So my memory will have to be a family portrait, one Sunday evening, all gathered in our living room, three generations, probably with the TV on.

Tell me about a person who changed or influenced your life.

My grandma who stood by me until I was 20 years old. She was a teacher and before I got to first grade she used to teach me how to multiply on the beach. I was her last student, probably the one in which she invested the most. And i believe i made her happy. Even now, when i do something i think would make her proud i wink at the sky.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

To better know myself.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

It was my first time at Garana Jazz Festival and I was there camping. And even though my father advised me to set up my tent like a church, up in the hill and not near the swelling river, where the animals might come to drink water, i set it up 2 meters away from the river. It rained for an entire hour, the river overflowed and took our tent with it, until some friends managed to save it. And there I was soaking wet, in my slippers with all my clothes wet, in the tent. There some people allowed me to stay in their van, gave me a shirt and a shot of pălincă [romanian brandy].

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

I rather keep this to myself.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

I haven’t had too many moments like this. No matter what they were, I’ve always had my safety places where I knew I could always come back to. Nevertheless, loneliness in small portions can be therapeutic. We tend to forget this, but the moments of solitude we have with ourselves are very healthy. I have this moments when i run. I’m all mine for an hour.

George, 28 years old

*Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*

October 21, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Silviana

Sometimes we go through experiences that overwhelm us. We feel alone and helpless, or need someone to share the little things that bring us joy. Other times we rush into judging others without knowing them or having any idea about the things they’ve been through.

I started Connections in a time when my life didn’t look to colorful or happy and it served as a self therapeutic exercise. Then more people got hooked into it and I decided to take it further.

This project is an exercise of introspection and sincerity, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that put a mark on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.

It’s a project that continues to do me good and I hope you’ll get something good out of it as well.

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Did you use to invent stories when you were a little girl? What were they about?

Oh my, i invented entire universes. I daydreamed a lot and still do. I used every detail or experience: if i raced the kids near my home, i saw myself on a running track. If we were stealing cherries, there I was with my gang and Steven Segal. In Vietnam. In the puddles. Nothing was too small, nothing was unimportant.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

I don’t know if this is the most beautiful but i always laugh out loud when i remember it. I can’t remember how old i was, but i know my mom had sent me to a summer camp. It was the first time i saw the sea and out of too much enthusiasm i went to the shore and hugged the first wave. It put me to the ground, i got a little dizzy but i was feeling fine.

Tell me about a person who changed or influenced your life.

The people you chose to listen to shape you. The people you chose to see show you who you want to become or the person you don’t want to be. I can’t just pick one. It’s all of them. The ones who knew to say the right thing at the right time, with honesty and great care, even though they knew that sometimes I wouldn’t like what i was hearing. I appreciate them greatly.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

To trust myself more, to be more selective. I’ve also learnt not to judge people based on the first impression, and to have the courage to be myself. To love full heartedly.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

Yes, absolutely. They’ve offered me trust when i needed it and i hope i can do the same for someone else.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

Some stories are meant to be kept not told. 🙂

When in your life did you feel most alone?

Hm. Loneliness is a temporary thing (sometimes, never a bad thing, it teaches you). If you look around you you’re never completely alone. You just have to let time to pass for a while and to want to see. But what do I know? There’s a long way till far away.

Silviana, 27 years old

*Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*