A longboarding accident proved to be a life-changing experience for Andrei – it was the moment he picked up photography, facilitating the journey to discovering his true self. Check his story out below.
Say hello to Andrei:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
I was born in 1995 in Brasov, Romania, and since 2014, I’ve been working and living in Bucharest. From an early age, I was very curious and stubborn. My curiosity manifested in sports including biking, skiing, rollerblading and snowboarding. My most recent involvement in longboarding has brought me all over my country in some of the most remote locations you can imagine. As far as for my curiosity, it has taken me to the biggest countries of Europe and it will not stop until I see every continent.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
Since I haven’t traveled all over the world yet, I don’t have a favorite place in the world, but I can surely show you one of the locations that I like a lot. The place is in my hometown, Brasov. It’s located on a small hill above the road that goes to Poiana Brasov. The view is incredible. You can see the city line, the mountain ridges, and sometimes, the stars and the Milky Way. It’s magic.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
Portraits with stories of experiences that I go through with people.
How would you describe your visual style?
I consider my work to have a wide scale of subjects approached in a multi-layered way. I like to involve the viewer in a style that feels physical. My photographs are dark. They radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, a disconcerting beauty emerges from them. The inherent visual seductiveness, along with the conciseness of the exhibitions, further complicates the receptions of their manifold layers of meaning. By emphasizing aesthetics, I seduce the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life.
Do you get photographer’s block?
Yes, I can’t do just photography. I don’t like to fall in a monotony, so that’s why I am filming as well. For personal projects, for longboarding community, and for clients. When I get enough of filming, I go out longboarding, cruising around the city with my team and friends. I used to be a hardcore gamer before doing photography. I still play a couple of times per week and it’s a very pleasurable thing to do. I like to read a lot online, and watch plenty of movies online and at the cinema.
Tell us about the other aspect of your career being a sponsored downhill longboarder.
I started doing longboarding in 2010. In 2012, I got sponsored by the local and national shop, and it was probably one of the best things that happened to me, besides photography. I had the chance to meet a lot of people, visit new places, discover my true limits, educate and organize myself. This year marks 6 years since I’ve gotten involved in the sport. I know myself really well and I can tell you that I’ll do this for the rest of my life.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
I started doing photography while I was in high school. In the summer of 2013, I had a longboard accident involving a car that put me away for a while. I couldn’t get any more satisfaction from the sport, so I discovered photography and that shooting the sport was just as enjoyable.
What types of photography do you do? What’s your favorite?
I do mostly portraits, including nudes, action-packed sports photography, and landscape. The most I like doing is portraits – sometimes, I get myself in them whether it be my shadow, having a part of my body, or just leaving my visual and emotional experience in a photograph with the person in it.
What was the moment you decided to become a photographer?
I was in high school art in 2013, when I decided to do photography. Before that, I wanted to study architecture and industrial design. I still consider doing it in the near future – there’s plenty of time.
What is the strangest situation you’ve ever faced as a photographer?
I discovered my true self.
What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?
I don’t have one yet and I don’t think I’ll ever have one.
What are your three favorite photos you’ve taken?
Demetra. I have known Demetra since 2014. We first talked online while she was studying in Norway, then we met in December. Since then, I have shot her in a lot of places and scenes in Bucharest, from planned shoots to drunk party photos. This photograph is the first of a series that took place in a studio with lights. I share with her a very special bond and relation that I couldn’t share with anyone else. It’s unique and we both feel it in the same way – as such, I felt that we needed to have a photograph together. We looked through some good composition examples and we naturally made it our own. Sometimes, when I look again at the photograph, I don’t recognize myself. It’s like I see two strangers that have an impossible bond and relationship – a connection that is out of this world.
Alexandra was studying already in Holland and we hadn’t seen each other for two or three years. She told me that she was going to come back to Brasov in December and asked if we could meet. That was during a holiday, so I got to go home. We went out, got a few big wine carafes and talked. After that, we took photographs on the way to her grandma’s house. Her grandma was very cheerful and charismatic. She brought us some cakes and sweets, as far as I remember from my inebriated state. There, we had even more alcohol, whiskey, and some other spirits as well. The interior was very old-fashioned, pleasant and comfortable. In the middle of the room, there was this big, three-piece mirror with a table that had photographs of her parents, her grandparents, and of Alexandra when she was very young. She found this red coat of her grandma’s, a bit big for her, but it stood out very well. We had this idea of her to sit in front of the mirror (a bit cliche), and just after two or three drinks (off camera, of course), I felt that something was missing and I had to make the scene more expressive. I told her I was gonna get myself in the shot through the mirror and for her to turn sideways to me and do something. As we were both drunk, I didn’t know what to expect from her, and she just threw a necklace at me with a raging expression while the camera was on self-timer. After a couple of re-positioned frames, I got the shot I wanted (I didn’t have a tripod that night, so I had to improvise by placing the camera on the back of the couch). It was the day after that I realized that the photograph wasn’t even horizontal, but hey, who cares? To be honest, I love how it turned out.
After my accident, I went with some of my friends and Razvan (in picture) to Mures in the mountains. There was a hut in the valley below and plenty of mountains to explore. It was the best vacation I had taken, considering that I had an injury. The dog from the photograph, which is now dead, knew that something bad happened to me. He always stuck to me and I could feel he was sharing energy with me.
Photography is competitive, how do you stand out?
I learn from others’ mistakes and mine, and I try to never make the same mistake twice.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
Don’t buy the best camera, the best lens, the best light, or the best tripod. You can do photography with the cheapest film and digital camera, all you need is your mind. Train, study, learn, watch others, attend events, observe people for a while, stare at them and see their reaction, read, play games, go hiking, get out of your comfort zone! Organize your analogue life as your digital one. Be synced between your neuronal bridge and your outer reality.
What is the best thing a model can do to make the most of a photoshoot?
Don’t be cocky about it – be honest, smart and modest. Be you.
What was your most memorable photoshoot?
I don’t have one, since I remember mostly everything starting from my accident.
If you could photograph anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’ll know when I’m there with that somebody.
Who was the most unforgettable model you’ve ever met?
Demetra, we have a unique bond and relationship.
Is there anyone you want to give a shoutout to?
I trust in you L and R. You’ll both reach far because you believe in yourself and your work.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?
If you suck as a person, you’re working in vain as a great photographer.
How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?
I get to know them before, sometimes even weeks or months.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
Study the past, talk with others, and work hard.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring models?
Be modest, smart and don’t be cocky about yourself.
What kind of gear do you have? What’s your favorite?
I own digital and film cameras, multiple lenses, one tripod and one speed flash. I don’t have a favorite one.
What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Organize your folders, your photographs, your shoots, your events by date, day, month, year, external storage device, etc. Make a lot of backups.
What is your most life-changing event?
My longboard accident.
What has photography done for you as a person?
As I said before, it helped me to discover myself.
What’s something no one knows about you that you’d like to share?
I’m really patient.
What’s one of your biggest fears?
I’ve been in a near death experience. I remember almost everything since I was in my mother’s womb. I’m scared that I’m not scared. I see the fears and things in another way than people usually do.
What will you be doing five years from now?
Shooting, longboarding, and learning.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
One time, I jumped 25 metres [82 feet] over a car!
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
Flying an air fighter jet.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Andrei, here’s some contact information:
Andrei, you have an auspicious future ahead of you – we can’t wait to see how it unfolds!
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.