Friday, July 30, 2010

Ikuru's New Blog

The great and fearless Japanese has just changed his blog address, along with the country of residence. You might want to bookmark this

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vama Veche in Print

First of all, I apologize for the huge edit that I'm throwing at you here. It is a large project that I started working on sort of without realizing it. I've been going to Vama Veche for a few years, but most times I did not work while I was there. That changed about three months ago, when DOR magazine asked me to do a photo essay about the place.

In between then and now I went there quite a few times. The idea was to document how or if the place has changed since it was famous for being deserted and somewhat exclusive, a hideout for the bohemian. The writer and myself worked separately, so what you see here is my own interpretation of the place. It is hard for me to show what the place was like, as I was not here during its golden times. Therefore, I tried to understand the place, then attempted to make pictures that would somehow show what it means to me. I like to plan things when I work, to avoid getting lost between ideas, but of course there are always surprises that throw me off the plan, or, better said, episodes that add to the original sketch, such as the kids in the previous post.

I've found a couple of pictures that I took three years ago that fit this story as well (first and fourth in the series), but most of it has been shot over the last two months or so. The first nine pictures represent the edit that has just been published a couple of days ago in the magazine. The rest are pictures that I liked that somehow represented a mood I wanted to convey, but were maybe a little too vague for the magazine. I'll keep working on this story in the upcoming months. I'll try to focus a little more on the lives of the people who are not there for fun, which is something I feel is incomplete in the pictures I've taken so far. Thanks for looking!

PS: If you can get your hands on DOR magazine, don't hesitate. The article about Vama Veche, among many, is a great read.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vama Veche IV - The Love

Back in Vama Veche for this project I'm working on. Heavy clouds made me take my camera out today for the first time in four days. As these things tend to happen sometimes, I ran across this couple making out in the water. They see me taking pictures from the shore. When they get closer, I ask if it's ok to take pictures. They agree: "You mean you're going to get in here with us, with those cameras in your hands? Sure, come along!" I'm grateful and get in the water before they change their minds, wearing regular clothes as I was not expecting to swim today. Then things start picking up speed. They make out, I walk and swim and take pictures at the same time, trying not to get my camera soaked. They unaffectedly forget about me. When they decide to take a break, I ask: "So what are your names?" They both start laughing like crazy. "The thing is, we just met a couple of hours ago, we don't really know each other's names". Ana-Ruxandra and Marius. "Really, that's your name?" they both say to each other while they start kissing again.

Out of the water, we exchange emails I thank them again and leave, hoping we could catch up later tonight. Amazing!

Update, April 30th, 2012. I just got a message 15 minutes ago from the girl in the pictures, who asked me to take down the photos. She is about to get married and her husband - who is not the guy in the pictures - doesn't want the images online. I'm not about to get in an ethical debate, so I took down most of them. I've kept this one as a reminder of that lovely afternoon.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Doctors' Migration for Esquire

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.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

Floods II

As the Danube levels has reached its historical high and the news reports indicated a possible catastrophe was on its way, AFP sent me back to Galati, along with AFP writing intern Palko Karasz, to document how the city was preparing to face the floods. As it normally happens around here, the facts looked less dramatic than what we were told on TV. The locals were far from terrified. Soldiers were working around the clock to construct a sandbag dike to protect the city. So far the few households that seem to be in some sort of danger were those in IC Bratianu, a village across the Danube from Galati. Some villagers have come up with a way to turn this whole mess into something positive: they charged tourists and journalists for boat rides.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Thursday, July 01, 2010