From the man who is considered the world’s first photographer to the woman who wants to capture the beauty of women, regardless of race, colour or age, here are 12 Romanian photographers who have explored their surroundings and have travelled the world to capture life through their lens.
Carol Popp de Szathmári
Born in Cluj-Napoca, a part of the Austrian Empire at the time, Carol Popp de Szathmári is one of the first professional photographers in Europe. For his pictures taken on the frontline during the Crimean War in the 1850’s, he is considered the world’s first war photographer. He traveled to China and Siberia to capture local customs and kept a studio near Bucharest’s Calea Victoriei.
Passionate about photography from a young age, Iosif Berman would hang out with the itinerant photographers of Suceava, his birthplace, and Cernăuți. Before turning 18, he moved to Bucharest, and, as soon as he earned enough money, he bought a camera. As a professional photographer, he worked as a correspondent from Istanbul and later, in the mid-1920s collaborated with Dimitrie Gusti, founder of the Bucharest National Village Museum, on a highly original project documenting village life and customs.
Aurel Mihailopol is considered the most talented photographer working during the Communist period. Nicknamed ‘the barefoot photographer’, due to his nonconformist ways of chasing the perfect frame, he was also known to hang his photo camera around his neck first thing in the morning. Most of his award-winning work was published in culture magazine Cinema.
Known for her erotic black-and-white pictures featuring women clad in transparent robes, adorned in feather boas and decked in jewellery, eighty-six-year-old Romanian-French photographer Irina Ionesco is a rather infamous presence on the list. In the 1970s, she stirred major controversy with the pictures she took of her young daughter Eva, who was pictured striking provocative poses, similar to her mother’s much older models.
Mihaela Noroc travelled the world capturing female beauty in a bid to remind everyone that ‘beauty shouldn’t have a definition’. Moreover, she argues that, just as beauty knows no borders, kindness and tolerance shouldn’t either. Her Atlas of Beauty features 500 portraits she took of women of all ages in more than 50 countries.
One of the most famous contemporary Romanian photographers, Alex Gâlmeanu‘s work has been published by virtually every fashion magazine in the country and numerous international ones. With personal exhibitions in Bucharest, Paris, Rejkyavik and Cork so far, you can always count on him to take the most original street photographs.
Primarily a fashion photographer, Cosmin Bumbuţ is one of the best known contemporary photographers in the country. His legacy also includes photography magazine Punctum, which he launched in 2009, as well as photo group 7 Days, which he co-founded together with friends from his native Baia Mare.
‘I don’t know who I am, but I am trying to find out’, Cristian Munteanu says of himself. As a photographer, things are much more straightforward. While he is perhaps best known for his series documenting the celebration surrounding the Pentecost in the Lipovan community of Carcaliu village in the Danube Delta, his latest work is even more appealing, due to its undercurrent of irony and the absurd.
Born in Șimleu Silvaniei, Hajdu Tamás is a veterinarian-turned-photographer who currently lives in Baia Mare. While he too explores the current themes concerning Romanian society, his vision is novel, witty and ironic enough to make him stand out from the pack.
Petruț Călinescu‘s work is fresh and highly suggestive, with a strong under layer of humour. One of his latest projects, dedicated to the suburbs of Bucharest, captures a meeting point of contrasts where the old realities and the new developments in the life of the city are negotiating their territory. His overseas projects, exploring Congo, the area around the Ganges and Cairo can be found here.