I stumbled across the impressive work of Ilinca Straton after Dark Bombastic Evening; she is a self-taught photographer based in Cluj who uses her camera to say things that words cannot. Ilinca experiments with textures, colors, space, and the solitary figure to produce photos that are unique, a style that is all her own.
Hello, Ilinca! First thing off, tell us more about yourself, what made you fall in love with photography? Why do you take photos, after all?
Hey, there! I could start by saying that I’m in my last year at the Faculty of Theatre and Television and at the moment, I’m working intensely at my first short movie. I don’t think I could say that I’ve fallen in love with photography at some point being. I think it all started with a great friend of mine, she played dress-up, in more nonconventional way, I brought my camera and one thing led to another. It was more both a game and a way of expressing ourselves, while living in a little town where nothing more interesting happened. I think that was my beginning and of course, it continued in my first student years until now. At the moment, wherever I go, I go with my camera and try to capture a moment from everything that makes me feel something, at the time being. (smile)
I first saw your photos after Dark Bombastic Evening this year event, was that the opportune time to start your photography activity?
I started my photography activity by taking it seriously, three years ago. Probably in my first year of University…that’s when I first experienced more various genres of photography because once a week I had a project which involved exploring new areas. But I must confess that DBE was a great opportunity to promote myself and get more recognition from a lot of people, which was awesome for me. I focused a lot on this new area and for sure it opened new perspectives.
I can see you use both portraiture photography and street photography. What kind of photography attracts you the most and why?
That’s an interesting question because throughout the years, I was sure of myself that portraiture was the area most close to me and my way of seeing things. I recently discovered that whether I choose to focus myself on street photography, events, landscapes, collages and I make them my own, I really don’t have to choose where I’m most comfortable. And that was the moment when I chose to explore more the area of editing.
Your photos give certain scenes of striking, timeless quality and it’s maybe because of the use of color. How did you choose this pinkish effect?
That’s a recent perspective of seeing things. I use double exposures to obtain this effect for a cinematic look. And I guess that atmosphere you were talking about is consisted both on the story, my subject and the editing. All the photos from the series made me think about them as a frame from a movie and the pinkish effect that you were talking about created the most an uncomfortable atmosphere that I was looking for.
I think a perfect photo combines cinematic mood, emotion and visual appeal. How do you see a perfect image?
I try not to think how an image should look perfect. I don’t usually think in these terms about photography. A good photo can be emotional, technically impeccable, with a strong visual impact and with all these qualities, may not be a great one. On the other way around, a basic photo, but with a strong social impact can be by far closer to the people, therefore it’s all subjective.
I see something, I capture a projection of that space (and time), adjust it in a way I initially saw it and give a sense of a story, with its own, distinctive universe.
I caught myself sometimes staring at your photos. Some of them feel so intense and strangely sad. Do you aspire to tell a story, to capture emotion or make a statement of some kind?
Probably the precise answer could be a combination between stories with a visual impact which would eventually carry a strong, emotional message. But it’s not always like that. I see something, I capture a projection of that space (and time), adjust it in a way I initially saw it (by editing) and give a sense of a story, with its own, distinctive universe.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
Firstly, by seeing a lot of movies. (smile) This is the most inspiring part of the process. And furthermore, by being more attentive at the composition and all the technical elements of this creative process.
When you are out shooting- how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
When I did a lot of portraits, it was all about the planned. As I said before, I used to stay with my friend for hours, thinking about new ideas, from clothes to props. It was all very carefully planned. Now, I have to say that it’s all about the instinctual, I capture one moment which tells me a story from every new place I see.
Whose work has influenced you most?
I must say that photography is to me more like an extension to cinema, my greatest passion. I haven’t been directly influenced by photographers, although I appreciate and follow a lot of names from this field. Lars von Trier is one of my favorite directors and it influenced me a lot on how to see things, by opening new perspectives and maybe this is how I ended up creating a lot of my photos with a strange, confusing atmosphere. That’s how I like to think about it.
Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?
Just to be creative and to explore, by reading, listening to good music and discover art by any means.
All images: (c) Ilinca Straton