Alex Galmeanu aus Bukarest denkt darüber nach, was in der Zukunft eine*n gute*n von eine*m weniger gute*n Fotograf*in unterscheidet. Und über die Demokratie in der Fotografie. Dazu und noch zu einigem mehr haben die #FacesOfPhotography ihn gefragt:
Alex, how are you in these strange times?
Strange times indeed. From a personal point of view, I’m ok. I’m in good shape; my family is safe, and my friends are well. From a business point of view, things are quite different. As probably everyone is saying, there’s no precedent for this. You don’t know how to react and which is the best approach to a crisis like this. You can imagine that almost overnight, all the activities in my studio changed: many of the ongoing projects were canceled or postponed, all the short-term plans became halted, and everything shifted almost in a blink of an eye. Indeed, the most important thing is health; being healthy, everything else I’ll fix at some point.
If we weren’t in crisis, what would you be working on?
Before the crisis, I had something like 3 to 4 ongoing advertising campaigns. Just two weeks before the lockdown, one of my clients confirmed a year-long contract, which he later was forced to postpone indefinitely. In another case, a three-days commercial project I photographed just before the lockdown is still not delivered, after more than two months, with the client temporarily closing the business.
I also had a plan to buy some new equipment and make some changes to the layout of my studio (and other investments), but now everything is postponed, of course.
What are you working on instead?
I have an introduction to this question. I believe that the photography industry was never so democratic as now. Access to technology is simple, cheaper than before, and available for everyone. That means everybody could be a potential photographer, and the number of photographers is rising rapidly every day. So, in such a democratic industry, how a good photographer looks like? What’s the difference between a good and a not so good photographer today? From my point of view, I believe the difference is more philosophical than technical. Almost everyone will deliver a „good light“ or a decent composition. Still, just a good photographer will be ready to understand and decrypt this fantastic spectacle of life around us and provide concepts relevant to it. So, the difference between photographers I see it in a theoretical and philosophical territory.
With the background I described above, I intended to take advantage of this lockdown period and concentrate on a more theoretical approach of photography, reading, and studying some relevant aspects that I can use in future personal or commercial projects.
Another thing I’ve done is a sort of reportage of the lockdown in Bucharest, in a personal approach. I walked on the strangely deserted streets of the city almost every day, photographing the pandemic lockdown effects around me. Fortunately, some of the pictures were fitting for a local bank advertising campaign, so I sold them.
I had enough time to take care of my old projects also, ones I neglected in the last couple of years. I run here a website called Muzeul de Fotografie, which is a personal approach of a photographic museum, already more than ten years old. Even being a private initiative, a non-academical one, the website is already relevant to the local academic community, as is often credited as a source for many scientific papers on the subject. One of the highlights is the discovering of the oldest aerial photography of Bucharest, for example.
As you know, I’m mainly a portrait photographer, but I discovered it is not so compatible with a „lockdown“. A portrait photographer needs subjects to photograph, and people around him. But, I decided not to stop it so quickly, so another part of my „free time“ was spent on video and photo self-portraits. I know it sounds like a joke, but imagine me being alone in a big studio, with no so much to do as usual, but with enough determination not to be stoped by this lockdown event. Even if the selfie movement I see it a being a bit childish, I believe the self-portrait is an excellent exercise for a portrait photographer.
Is it already clear what the crisis means for the photography industry in Romania?
Like anywhere else, everybody is launching different scenarios, but the effects on the photographic industry are not apparent. I think the main difference will be in the business travel area. We will see fewer business trips for photographers and clients so that we will concentrate on local projects and local clients more than before. Of course, some projects we will do remotely, actually already happened to me. Last Friday, I just had a quite big campaign with no agency or client on the set, but online, „live“ with us.
Another thing that happened at this shooting I had on Friday was health and safety-related. The production house insisted that all the relevant people involved in the production to be coronavirus tested before the shoot. I took a medical exam a day before, which I believe will be a standard approach in the immediate future.
Do you think that ways of seeing and visual languages will change against the background of the crisis?
The change depends on how long this crisis will be. A short turmoil will have a limited effect, and a longer one will change some things. I believe that social conscience has a short memory; people tend to forget something very quickly as a group (that’s why most of the politicians they still have careers, for example). Inevitable, the photography art (and visual industry) is following the life itself, I think any change will be related and linked to the way life will evolve. Photography is like a mirror of this spectacle of life; it will reflect what’s in it.
What is your photographic wish for the time after the crisis?
I need to see people around me as it used to be before the crisis. I like to feel again that unique energy is happening at some projects when many people are vibrating to the same idea. I need proof that the photography industry is still relevant, and the photographers are still needed. Of course, I know the photography industry will be relevant a long time from now, I’m very optimistic about the future, but I still need proof of it.
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