September 10, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Connections – Andrei

 

connections Ioana Birdu

© Ioana Bîrdu

Connections is an exercise of introspection and honesty, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that had a meaningful impact on our lives.

Connections talks about us all – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.


Did you make up stories when you were a little boy? What were they about?

Yes, I did. When I turned 5, I received my first PC. This happened in 2000. I enjoyed playing on it a lot, initially in Paint, then playing games from floppy disks and a little later from CDs. When I wasn’t spending my time in front of my desktop, I wanted to bring the same experience in my “fighting” against the robots and cars I played with in real life, so I tried to mix the stories in a big one, throughout multiple days.

Outdoors me and my friends from the neighbourhood loved playing with plastic guns or even real gun replicas. Before we started playing we always thought of a script inspired from PC games and afterwards put it in action everywhere we could.

What’s a beautiful memory from your childhood?

I still remember the sounds and the image of my father teaching my mother how to ride a bike in large, repetitive circles in our yard.

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

I won’t give a name or too many details for personal reasons. The only thing I will say is that she taught me so many things during a year and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be so mature and the person I am today. Thank you.

What have you learnt from your past relationships?

Relationships helped me in life, career and work. They’ve helped me make friends, lovers and enemies. They’ve helped me grow up and head towards roads I didn’t even imagine. I see relationships like an organised chaos that everyone needs to create.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

I can only use the plural here. I’ve met lots of strangers who taught me patience and introduced me to a spiritual world.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

I offered them my time.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

I can’t tell if you mean it in a negative way or not, because many of us consider or associate loneliness to something bad, anti-social. Honestly, I can’t say if I ever felt alone in a bad way but I can tell you this: loneliness is vital for me. I love doing many things alone because it gives me a state of well being. I find loneliness to be a way of escapism and daydream.

Andrei, 20 years old


Want to be part of this project? Just answer the same questions and send them to ioanabirdu@gmail.com Or reflect on them and keep it to yourself, it will do you good 🙂

April 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Rodrigo

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 very 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? What were they about?

I used to play with action figures, mixed with all the toys. Building huge cities across the house. My parents’ legs covered by mattresses was mountains, hills. The track in the carpets, roads. Other thing about inventing stories I would like to point out. The video games was pretty.... simple. And added to this, there was the fact that they were in English. My friends and I barely understood its stories or mechanics, so we INVENTED, and I mean, A LOT. So someone, for example, invented that in a motorcycle game, there was a trick that you would be able to enter in a house and have a lunch and sleep a little.
We all tried for weeks to do the trick. Back in my memory, there was a whole world inside those games. It is with a bit of melancholia feeling that I look back to those games in emulators to see that most of the fun was just in our heads.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?
The infinite freedom in the afternoons with street friends. Dirt roads, bicycles by our feet.

Tell me about a person who had an impact on your life.
A history teacher, who taught there was many views for the same reality. He gave me a copy of "Chariots of the Gods?" by  Erich von Däniken. I think there I earned the right to be curious.

What did you learn from your past relationships?
There is no free-ride when you talk about relationships. The persons involved will be touched and marked, somehow. And I don't see it in a pessimist perspective, by the contrary, there lies the beauty of it.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?
I cannot remember anytime where someone helped me, without me asking first for help. Usually I like to be in the other side, being the stranger who helps.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?
Often. I like how people react with disbelief at random acts of kindness. There is some kind of magical, humane touch in it.

When in your life did you feel most alone?
At night, after college or work, in a daily commute, at rush hours. I believe it is that small period where all the hopes of the day where lost and new one did not born yet.

Rodrigo, 28 years old

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

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.

*

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*

October 21, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Raisa

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 girl? What were they about?

I recall many russian stories, but i’m not sure if they were my own inventions or if it’s because my sister used to read me a lot of them from that book everyone had as a kid.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

I lived in a house that had an orchard, a flower garden and two big magnolias. On my way home, struggling with a very heavy backpack, i met my mother  back in the garden, weeding the flowers. She did that for hours, even days. And on the alley leading to our house i told her all about my life. I did it for hours, even days.

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

Adrian Jicu, my high-school romanian teacher. He recommended me The Illusions of Romanian Literature by Eugen Negrici. Then he kept recommending me critique and changed my way of thinking. He taught me to search for arguments and counter arguments, to debate and be curious. And this is the most important thing in life: to be curious.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

No matter how much you learn in a relationship it’s not enough for the next one.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

A stranger once gave me a luggage full of Bucuria candies.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

I write letters to a carrier from Ardeal.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

Three summers ago when I took a vacation to Malta alone. I left with 5 books and 500 songs on my ipod, but i haven’t read a word nor listen to a song.

They were 10 incredible days. 🙂

Raisa, 25 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.

Constantin

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?

All my stories involved calamities. Before i went to bed i thought about all kinds of bad things, monsters and apocalypses. After i managed to relax i fell asleep. I also had a sleep paralysis period and felt them even more intensely. Sleep paralysis immobilizes you before you fall asleep and you can open your eyes without being able to move your body. Often shadows, floating sensations or waves circle you until you manage to “fall back to sleep” and be able to wake up and move your body. It’s a very interesting experience few people have and lots of them are terrified. It fascinated me.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

Probably building 9A in which i grew up from 8 until over 20 years old. A lot of things happened here from games of electronic poker to picking mirabelle plums from the cemetery, from foot tennis to stealing mattresses. Seemed like Pantelimon [ district in Bucharest] was a little village.

Tell me about a person who changed/influenced your life

Definitely my girlfriend Andrea without whom I wouldn’t have moved to Berlin, gotten into freelancing or discovered many of my qualities.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

That you must experiment many things and that you must have someone to do that with. I’ve learnt you must have relationships in which communication is the most important. I haven’t had many relationships but i’m grateful for the ones i had because each of them thought me to get the perfect one.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

In Berlin many people smile on the street. Recently an elderly lady smiled at us [he and his girlfriend] when she saw us jogging together.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

Nothing comes to mind now but i’m sure something must have happened. I’m a shy person, i forget fast.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

At my grandparent’s. I was 12-13 and got there earlier than my cousin. I had to stay there alone for three days.

Well, with my grandparents but they weren’t so much fun. I cried a lot in the lucerne field, that’s how terrible I felt.

Constantin, 35 years

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

October 21, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Diana

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 girl? What were they about?

I often thought i’ve seen things no one else would notice, moreover since they all took place when no one i knew was there to see them with me For example, my parents still remember how certain i was about the day i went to buy some bread and i saw Kevin Costner waiting in the queue.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

There are so many! My parents and my sister were my childhood superheroes, so I must pick one memory for each of them. I’ll have to mention then the walks my dad and my 8 year old self used to have in the dog park, the not so often but lovely moments when my sister, who was 5 years older than me, would cave in to my pleadings and play with me and my dolls, and the most delicious picnics my mother used to plan at the neighbourhood’s pool. And those are just a few.

Tell me about a person who changed or influenced your life

This will probably sound very “Sex and the City” like but i’ll have to mention my friends – the most beautiful, snappy in a smart way, independent and badass chicks i know. I’d be a smaller person, with fewer models and less happy memories if i wouldn’t have met them.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

As a highly sensitive and almost paranoid person, i developed some weird self defense mechanisms that made me look very ironic and cold to people who didn’t know me or who intimidated me. So i try to relearn that showing my vulnerability is actually an act of courage and it’s ok if my voice trembles or if i feel like crying. I’ve also learnt that smiling, getting excited and showing myself is good 🙂

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

It happened sometimes, yes. There were traffic controllers who didn’t give me a ticket when my head was too deep in the clouds and i  forgot to scan my ticket, random people who offered me flowers on the street and a lady in a bus who told me i was wearing a dress just as beautiful as she used to wear when she was younger :).

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

A couple of days ago i told a woman who was almost 70 years old that she was very beautiful and she had the gentlest eyes i’ve ever seen.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

This must be the classical moment when you feel close to the abyss. It sounds dramatic, but this was how i felt. Even more so when i was surrounded by people who encouraged me to talk and let everything out and i did talk about everything that happened to me. Nonetheless, that awful feeling stayed with me for a while.

Diana, 28 years old

*If you want to be part of this project send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*