Some time ago, Esquire editor Gabi Dobre calls me and says "We want you to illustrate this larger story about young doctors leaving the country because of the state of the Romanian medical system. The narrative revolves around this couple of doctors, who have been together since med school and are planning to emigrate in the upcoming future. The only catch is that they don't want to be photographed, for fear they might get in trouble at work for speaking so openly about the system."
So I read the first draft of the article and then meet again with Gabi and writer Simina Mistreanu, to come up with something that might work. The story is really told through the experiences of Cosmin and Andreea, the two young doctors, so I refuse to photograph other doctors, to confuse the readers. Shadows, silhouettes and ouf of focus are also out of the question from the beginning.
After a couple of hours of brainstorming we decide to use the fact that they don't want to be photographed and somehow make that count in our visual interpretation of the story. That's how I found myself looking for details to photograph that would somehow add something to this story and move it furhter rather than hold it back because the lack of access to subjects' daily lives. The story was just published. Here are a few pictures:
These baseballs lie on Cosmin's old TV. He bought them as souvenirs on his first trip to the US that he and Andreea took together, in med school. The trip was what triggered their thoughts about leaving the country.
Though he is out of med school, Cosmin still cannot affort to move out of his parents house, where they share a bathroom.
Equipment in an opticians office, where Andreea works her second job, besides the one at the hospital.
Cosmin says young doctors need to invest their own money in their education, may that be books, workshops or classes.
Andreea says supplies are always scarcer in the state system than in the private clinics. Pictured here, equipment from the optician's office.