At its 5th edition, our Slide Night is for the first time part of the European Month of Photography (EMoP).
In this context, Catalin Burlacu, one of our SPLux members and romanian himself, talked to a passionate Romanian photographer interested in street photography, member of various international photography groups and curator for 1x (www.1x.com). Between 2014-2015 she received awards from international photography contests.
Mirela is co-founder of PhotoTeam (street photography group – www.phototeam.ro), of the international group of photography On SPOT and, since 2014, of Bucharest Photo Week Festival. She is currently the president of Exposure Association (NGO).
Hello, Mirela. First of all, on behalf of STREET PHOTOGRAPHY LUXEMBOURG GROUP, thank you for taking the time to take this interview with us.
Thank you for your kind invitation, Catalin, happy and honored to share with you some details of my photographic work. ☺
Tell us a few words about yourself and what you do?
I’m an amateur photographer located in Bucharest, Romania, and I started to be interested in photography in 2009, after following many years of painting classes. I guess the reason was that I wanted to express myself in a more realistic and efficient way and also, or mainly, because I am quite curious in almost everything I see or experience every day.
How and when did you become interested in photography and especially in street photography?
What I can honestly say is that I love walking on streets and searching around for interesting things to discover. Probably this “search” made me approach street photography, and this may also be a part of personal development and improvement. I am attracted by the street geometries, the light and shadows play or combination of elements with good impact and so on, spiced by a little touch of strange details. But on the way I also discovered expressions and moments involving people on street, movements and weird moments, dynamics and unexpected associations, so this mixture of unique moments around us fascinates me more and more.
Is there any particular artist who inspired your work?
The inspiration always comes from people on street, from my friends, from other photographers I know, from the ones I study…and most important it comes from inside of us, makes us look and search, discover what is out there, making us part of what is happening around us, to be involved and eager to find those moments that makes us “tick” and press the shutter.
My favourite street photographer will always be Elliott Erwitt, for his amazing and so special humour, combined with a touch of strange in every scene.
Do you prefer color or black & white?
My favourite are black and white with strong contrast images. But if the colors are intense, I keep the colors in editing. Moreover, those days when light is „flat”, I simply turn my camera in monochrome mode to see the world in b&w ☺
What’s your favorite street photography of all time? Any wonderful backstory that you want to share with our readers?
The first one I can remember and treasure is one photo capture during a photowalk through one of Bucharest’s Parks, a walk interrupted by the injured head of one of my colleagues. So we shortened the photowalk and went to hospital to treat the injury…thought the photowalk was done. But at return, thr
ough the park, I got one of the most touching images from my collection ☺ and here it is.
How much do you prepare for a shot?
I shoot instinctively, so no preparations in general. The games of light attract me, so every time I see a spot of light, a contre-jour light, or special lighting around me, I take the opportunity to use it without hesitation.
Do you get close to your subjects or do you prefer to remain unnoticed?
Usually I go really close to people, when necessary, because my camera has just one prime lens of 12mm. No possibility to use zoom. So if I need a portrait or expression, I must go really close to subjects. Sometimes I use flash too 😉 but with a smile and gentle conversation, no one got upset so far.
In your opinion, what are the components of a really great shot?
I believe that most of really great shots have a weird component, the one which gives impact and makes us wonder. This is because the message is simple: there are so many special and unusual things out there waiting to be discovered, right during the common day to day moments. Trying to discover and revealing them, and see the world through new perspective, that offers great captures of the amazing world we are living in!
What equipment do you use for your shots? Do you think that one can use his/her phone to take and publish street photos?
My camera for street photography is a mirrorless, with a prime lens (Olympus OMD EM1 with 12mm prime lens). But usually the batteries are going quickly so I do not hesitate to take photos with my phone. The enclosed photo taken with mobile was awarded with FIAP GOLD MEDAL at Open-Air PHOTO – International Photographic Competition, April 2015 – ” MOBILE ” Section (Remember The Time).
Do you have any ongoing projects?
One of the project I am involved in these days is “PhotoTeam Romania”, a street photography group, with its photographic projects, it motivates me and my friends to go out on street, open our eyes and try new perspectives over day to day life and subjects. We already had some exhibitions and we participated to international photography festivals. And we are preparing to launch our very first printed album with street photos, the result of 5 years of searching the streets looking for the best scenes. Beside this main project, I am also involved in curating and organizing photographic exhibitions, being one of the founders of International Festival „ Bucharest Photo Week”. It is always important to create a photographic local environment, to motivate as many photographers as possible to capture today’s life and moments, learning and developing together, and in this way we may create a valuable archive for future.
Lastly, do you have any tips for photographers to help them grow?
The best advice I can share with you is to go out on streets and be there, photography will not be done in front of a computer ☺ Go out, always will have something new, interesting and captivating to see, feel and capture. We are leaving changing times, do not let time pass by you!