Bogdan Botas is a young photographer living in Cluj Napoca where he studies cinematography. He restores, reprints and colorizes old photographs and for the last three years captures natural, touching portraits. I stumbled across Bogdan’s photos after seeing Ilinca Straton’s page (see her images/interview here). Check what Bogdan has to say:
Hello, Bogdan! First off, thank you for accepting our interview invitation. Tell us more about yourself, when did you first started to photograph? What does photography mean to you?
Hello! Thank you for offering me the invitation! Well, I’m 21 years old, I’m from Ocna-Mureș but I study cinematography at a faculty in Cluj Napoca, hoping to become a director. After I was admitted to the faculty, at the end of 2014, I bought my first DSLR. I’ve never had or handled one before, so it was very exciting to test its abilities and learn new techniques. It was pretty much like playing with a toy again. Photography, for me, means a way of materializing conscious and subconscious ideas that tend to form in my head. It’s always the concept that comes first, then I try to match it with my execution.
You restore, colorize and reprint old photographs. How cool is that?! How long does it take to make this process?
Thank you! Well, the process takes about 3 to 4 days, but it depends mostly on the complexity of details that the photography possesses. After the restoration is done, it also involves a lot of documentation to find out the exact colors that are missing from the black and white photograph. I like to work in detail, so that the final result would look more natural and as realistic as possible.
Is there anything you can’t do? (laughing) I mean you photograph, do film, restore images and the like.
Thank you for the compliment! I try to expand myself in as many territories as possible. I think that I am still in my experimentation period, because I discover new methods and techniques every day, so I tend to take a lot of different tasks in the visual arts field. I hope that this enthusiasm will persist throughout my searches and findings.
Is there any specific thing you do to express emotions through your work?
I can’t think of anything specific although I often listen to music before, during or after the creating process. I have a melancholic type of personality, so I believe that somehow, subconsciously, this is reflected mostly in my artistic activities.
Can you tell us a little about the highs and lows of living as a photographer?
The highs are that a photographer can convey his ideas, concepts or emotions into something visual, that other people can see and have a reaction to it. But he has to proceed a lot of undesirable and less artistic paths, just to survive, before he can conceive the things mentioned in the first sentence. I think that this is also an important part in a photographer’s formation as well, even thought it’s frustrating sometimes.
I am afraid of not succeeding in my pursues and have to abandon art as my main focused point, which right now would seem impossible.
Tell us more about your new series “Uncomely”! What does it represent and what’s the main feeling you want to express? What camera did you used?
Well, the series came as unexpected. The protagonist, my friend Nicoleta Iuoraș, told me that she had a white, long dress that she would like to wear for our next photo shooting. The idea sounded interesting, so we visited some abandoned places in our post-industrial hometown. After finding the perfect spot, around a broken pipe with frozen water, I quickly thought of a concept and shot the pictures, because Nicoleta was freezing. The photographs represent the isolation and desolation of a lonely character unfit for the deserted and decaying environment that she is in, that’s why I called the series “Uncomely”. I used my trusted Canon 600d, not a top model, but still a great one, with a 17 – 50 mm lens for dexterity.
“Showreel” is by far the most touching thing you’ve ever done. Where did you find your inspiration?
Thank you! It encapsulates the best parts of my video projects, all arranged in a way that create a unitary emotion and concept. Everything is tied up by Eduard Artemiev’s Meditation, the theme song from one of my favorite films, Stalker, by Andrei Tarkovski. The inspiration came after realizing that many of my projects from the past have very specific elements in common that can be put together in one video.
How do you choose your models?
I usually search for people that are beyond the normative type of beauty and are open to experiment something new to themselves. I’ve mainly worked with amateur models, but the results were very surprising.
What’s your typical week is like?
Now I am very focused on my license work, because I am in the last year at my faculty. I usually write during the week, for the theoretical part and prepare things for my first and upcoming short film, as the practical part. To relax, I very often recur to music, which I adore profoundly. When I have more free time, that comes during the weekend, I try to pick a video or photo project.
What are you afraid of?
I am afraid of not succeeding in my pursues and have to abandon art as my main focused point, which right now would seem impossible. I am also afraid of cockroaches and zacuscă.
Words to live by?
Don’t take yourself too seriously, work hard and never buy cheap perfumes from weird people that you meet in trains.
All images: (c) Bogdan Botas