It's hard to wake up in the morning, especially when sunrise happens at 5.30am in your side of the world, but oh, man, this light, it's totally worth it. Plus, you have the feeling you have conquered the world, you are brave, you are up before most of the other people. While in Dubai, Darina and I tried this sunrise light and I'm in love with the results. Provided my future clients will be brave enough, I will try to talk them into hitting the streets before sunrise.
It's amazing how much a well chosen pair of vintage earrings can add to a portrait.
I am in Dubai, it's foggy, hot and humid outside and I suddenly realized I haven't written a blog post in a very long time. Dubai was my home for eight years and even though I moved to Dallas two years ago, I still feel Dubai is my second home. Many of my friends are here, my mentors and people I appreciate are here, I have the most amazing memories, my sister still lives here. So whenever I have the occasion, despite the 16h long flight, I am happy to come back. I've been shooting quite a lot in the past few days, mostly very early mornings (sunrise golden hour in Dubai is from 5.50am to 7am) and I would like to share some of my work here. This is a photoshoot with my sister in Bastakia Historical Quarter, a must visit if you ever find yourself in Dubai. My sister and I are Romanians, and our mom collects vintage (handmade) Romanian blouses ('ie' in Romanian, 'la blouse roumaine' in French), some as old as a century. Every time we go home she spoils us with few pieces each, so we wanted to honor that by making some beautiful images. We had more outfits with us but the weather got very hot very quickly and we decided to wrap it up (that was 7.30am!).
300. This is about the number of deep breaths (inhalations + exhalations) I take in a one hour yoga class (Ashtanga primary series), based on my estimations and rather poor math skills.
I've always been a person who couldn't be motivated to get into something or move forward unless I could clearly see a deeper meaning in doing so. I have no problems in loving and doing photography and now I am very clear about the meaning of yoga. As my yoga teacher put it today, it's not about doing so and so pose, it is about being aware of your breathing for the entire practice and achieving a pose is not about the shape we create with our bodies, but about controlling the breath in the most uncomfortable positions.
With this in mind, for some time I wondered what is the role of yoga photography and can it have a positive impact in us looking to be better physical, mental and spiritual beings? Isn't it maybe just one of those ways to feed egos through social media and create more unreasonable expectations for regular, not so bendy folks out there?
By practicing yoga I became more aware at how beautifully made our bodies are, and how important is to nourish them and take care of them. Yoga photography is for me a reminder of that, every image I create is a visual representation of all the effort it takes to achieve a certain yoga pose (even the simplest ones), a reminder of our potential as complex beings, capable to attend harmony and balance and tap into the cosmic energy.
So yes, I found the meaning and joy in doing yoga photography, and by doing it I hope I will be able to bring a little bit of joy and inspiration in other people's lives. Namaste!
My mom, my grandmas, my sister, my aunts, my bosses, my mentors, my teachers, my colleagues, my friends... I am deeply grateful for all the inspiring women in my life. And a special thought for my dad who was always proud and supportive of his girls.
This post is inspired by a concern a photographer posted on a photography group I belong to, and it is actually a concern we all have, at one point or another, no matter what kind of creative work we do. We look at our work and we think is "BLEAH" (to quote the photographer in question) and we look at others' work and we think is great. I don't think there is a need to say it, this approach kills creativity and passion. This is a message I will pass on from wiser people: It is ok to critique your work, actually necessary to be able to improve, but it is not ok to judge it. Be compassionate towards yourself and your work. Do your best to be a better photographer than a day, a week or a year ago, find artists that inspire you, even try to emulate their work, but don't compare yourself to others. We are all at different stages of our journeys, and we are all different, and no journey will be the same. Love your work, appreciate the effort you put in to create it, and try to improve it every day. The rest will come.
We live in a world where we are used to fast consumption and fast rewards. Say the "LIKE" on our social media posts. It is the fastest and the most sought after reward in the world. Even though there is not much to it. It is easy to give it and most of the time it does not validate quality. But I'm guilty, like the most of us. I post a picture and then I relook at it a million times always with the hope I'll see more and more LIKEs. Sometimes, if we don't get the followers or the likes we want, we feel unwanted, not worthy to be on social media, and we pack our toys and leave. But truth be told, some of us are in businesses that require us to be out there, visible and engaged. That doesn't mean we have to be fake. Speaking the truth, being yourself, and doing it to the best of your abilities, will always be appreciated. You may not have the most followers or the most likes, but it is important to be there when you are needed. There is always someone out in this world who will resonate with you and whom you might inspire to do something positive about their lives. So I'd say: Give whatever you have and do it regularly, without expecting anything in return. The Universe has this habit of balancing things out, and one day (usually when you need it the most and you least expect it) everything you give from the heart, in whatever form, will be given back to you.
Today on one of the photography Facebook groups I am part of someone brought up the issue of consistency - she has a hard time being consistent with her editing because every day she felt like her knowledge evolves, her taste changes and so her editing skills. Now I know that to a certain point, consistency is good, but I also think it is limiting if it's a purpose in itself. Consistency comes from your deepest values, and it shows in the type of clients you have, the moments you choose to capture, the way you place elements in the frame etc. When (and I'm talking here about portraiture and family photography) photographers reduce consistency to editing style and presets, and adopt one style because keeps their work consistent, I think they forget they are not shooting for themselves, but they are making memories for their clients. I am always inspired by my clients and usually take time to know and understand what their values are and this inevitably will make each photoshoot and images different. While we keep an eye on consistency, I think we must be open to changing and embracing new ways of working, because we are evolving every day and not one client is the same. Almost a year ago, while I was listening to an interview with Yolanda Cuomo (visual artist, she put together many photo books for famous photographers), I made this note of something she said when asked about the consistency in her work:
On few occasions lately I've been reminded why it is so important to share our talents and gifts with the world around us. Everything we do with passion comes from a pure place, a place of light and love. And what comes from this place has healing powers. The kind of magic that can make someone smile, someone's day better or help someone rebuild their life after they hit rock bottom. Don't hide your talents, don't be ashamed, put yourself out there, share your gift with the world. You never know whose life your light will be touching.
Dallas weather report, because Dallas freezing temperatures are not the norm.
I walk through my neighborhood, I have my glasses on and I'm equiped with a mighty camera and a macro lens looking for little photogenic treasures. And then there are the water droplets, giving me the gift of more magnification into a mysterious micro universe. I'm looking through all these lenses at the veins of a small, Chinese fan shaped fallen leaf. It's cold, and I'm already late.
Nature's poetry. I'm nowhere near snow, but I miss real winters. This image was made a few years ago in Romania, in the mountains close to my birth place. In March, surprisingly (it may look like the first snow, but it was the last).
I am a little bit late today, but haven't forgotten to wish my adoptive country of almost 8 years (and maybe some more in the future) 'Happy 45th anniversary United Arab Emirates'! This country has been so good to me, I only feel gratitude and love. Thank you for the best years of my life so far.
I kept searching through my archive today for an image to say 'Happy National Day Romania' - (my native country) but I felt mainly uninspired. And just now had another look at this photo made about a year ago from a view point in my favorite city, Brasov, before sunset, and I kind of felt something about it. This image never made the light outside my Lightroom catalog until today, but I'm glad it finally has a purpose. Happy National Day Romania!
Today while on my way back from yoga I thought about "creatures of habit" and how I can't be one. The good part about not being one is that I'm in continuous search and exploration of new things and I usually don't get bored. I'll always find a new theme, subject, author, music genre, country, destination, question, issue, food, hobby to keep me busy and learning. I'm open to anything new. The downside is, consistency in anything when you are not a creature of habit requires extraordinary effort, focus and perseverance. I don't have a wash day, a shopping day, a movie day, a dinner with friends day, a parents call day, a gym day, everything has to happen as I feel. I have a hard time planning things in advance because I mainly go with the flow. And I have a hard time keeping a consistent yoga schedule. A simple light bulb at eye level and I'm distracted by the beautiful filament details. Go figure!
Today's thought is about moderation. People have always had a tendency to give particular attention to opposites and ignore the middle way, but I find this tendency particularly relevant to our world today, where conversations are shaped by the social media landscape. We tend to see the two extremes and position ourselves pro or against any of them and have no interest in meeting half way. Aristotle, for whom moderation was a virtue, gives us a key for how to approach a contradictory discussion about a specific person.
I have been blogging on Wordpress for about three years and the blog served its purpose well (it still exists, although I don't know for how long). It was a way - as the tagline clearly stated - to explore my passion for photography. Since then a lot has happened, inclusive that I became a professional photographer (as in someone who feels comfortable with charging clients for his / her work, sell images on stock photography websites, trying to improve everyday to become a well known artist / photographer and hoping the job will pay the bills). I also moved from Dubai, UAE to Dallas, Texas which meant I quit my full time job in Public Relations in Dubai and started my journey as a freelance photographer in Dallas.
Building a portfolio must be the hardest job of a photographer - you have to detach yourself emotionally from images you created and only put out a handful of images that you assume your audience will like. But I find it unfair to completely burry images that have a deep meaning for the creator just because they are not the perfect 'one-in-a-million' photograph that will make history.
That's where I see the purpose of a blog. Recording memories and thoughts and addressing them on the spot hoping that there will be at least another person in the world that will benefit from it. My intention is to make it daily recordings, but I don't want to commit to it yet, rather letting it flow and grow it organically in whatever it is meant to be - well, my navigation title might already suggest it is expected I post daily :). My intention is to also make it just one image a day, which for me means training my decision making muscles.
Most of the time it won't be an image that was made that specific day, partly because I learnt is good to leave a little bit of buffer time in between creating and sharing and partly because there are days when I don't make anything. Creative ruts are a real struggle.
The image of today is the sunset I saw from my balcony and quickly grabbed the first camera I could find to capture it. What I like about this image is not necesarely the sunset itself (I passed the phase when I was posting every single sunset picture I could make), but because my intention was to capture it for my friend Adrianna, who lives in an area in town where she simply can't see the sunset.