People have been telling stories for thousands of years. Storytelling is not a new concept for humankind and has been crucial in shaping society and culture. And some of the best storytellers are photographers. Edward Aninaru is one of these photographers and we were lucky to catch him in Bucharest a couple of weeks ago for the current GUESTCURATOR edition.
In a moment when fashion photography is about less shooting and more editing, Aninaru stands out for his terrific use of color and light - but more than that, for his willingness to be more ideas-based in his thinking and to celebrate individualistic beauty. We met with Edward Aninaru for a conversation about fame, the changing landscape of fashion photography and his life in Los Angeles.THOM BROWNE '415 02' SUNGLASSES
Born and raised in Bucharest but living in L.A. for almost 6 years now. How was this transition? What was your biggest challenge in adapting to Cali style of living and working?
When I first arrived it wasn’t so hard...
I don't want to sound too fancy, but it wasn’t a problem to get adjusted to the lifestyle here in California. I just had to work harder than before, and that was one of the reasons I chose to come here.
It is hard to be so far away from friends and family but thankfully it's only a day of flying :)
|CUTLER AND GROSS '1294 02' OPTICALS|
You were recently in Bucharest for some shooting projects. Lucky us we caught you for the summer edition of our GUESTCURATOR series How do you feel about coming back? How has your hometown changed over the years in terms of city life or people’s mentality? Or is there anything else that impressed you?
I am always happy to get to come back home! Even though I came back to work on some projects it felt like a holiday. It’s good to be surrounded by old friends and delicious Romanian food. That's one thing I miss living in California!
Things in Bucharest seemed more grey than before... I don't think it was just my impression. I feel like there are some problems at the moment with politics and people’s mentality and the feel of the city.
Would you say your photography carries a certain signature? What are you seeking to capture with each shot you take?
It’s hard to say that my pictures have a signature, even if that is what every photographer aims for. It’s certainly what I’m trying to achieve :)
When I started doing photography I was using lots of strobes and complicated lighting setups etc., now, I am trying to get more clean and honest images. Maybe it's about getting older and looking for something more simple and direct, or maybe this is just another chapter in my career... We will see! :)
You are one of those photographers able to blend the commercial and artistic side in a great way. Do you think that there is something other people are doing wrong or do we just overcomplicate the act of looking at art in general and photography in particular?
I can't say if people are doing things the right or the wrong way. I can say for sure that it's a matter of choice whether you go for the more artistic side of things or you keep it commercial.
It is good to have the freedom to do whatever you feel... but sometimes this doesn't pay the bills :)
What are the dear projects you are working at the moment? You play with different mediums from editorial to commercial, but we’re curious to know about your personal projects as well, those projects that are not commissioned by anybody, where you always have carte blanche over what you’re shooting or how you shoot it.
You know what's funny? One of the reasons I came back to Romania for was to do a project like this. I believe it's the biggest personal project that I have worked on.
I don't want to tell you too much but I can tell you that we had an amazing shoot at Castle Film in Bucharest not even a month ago with a great team of 40+ friends and yes, I can tell you that it will be a pilot episode :)
Celine Dion, Naomi Campbell, Ne-Yo, John Newman, Shontelle or The Janoskians. You’ve shot famous people for quite a number of years now. Is it still possible for fame to impress you? Are you still able to nurture a photographer-muse bond nowadays, or have celebrities become more unapproachable? Give us some examples, if you will.
I’ve had the chance to shoot some famous people in my career, and not only in the US.
I don't know if I was more impressed with their name or their professionalism and willingness to work hard. It's quite admirable when you can shoot an A-list celebrity and see that they are working harder than a person who is just starting their career and dreaming to get there.
It's impressive to see such celebrities be right on time and listening to whatever you are asking them to do.
This is a lesson for me and I am so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to work with such celebrities and see how things work in the big league.
Share with us one of your most interesting/creatively challenging shooting experiences. Where and when did it take place, who was the subject etc.
I just mentioned the project that I recently shot in Bucharest. It was such a challenge!
You know that feeling when after days / weeks of hard work, you’re sure that your doing something right? I was going to sleep with a big smile on my face every night feeling like the luckiest person that I get to do what I love and make a living doing it. It was a personal project of mine and my dear friend Razvan Vasilescu and it was shot at Castle Film with a crazy and beautiful team. We shot for 20+ hours and the team was amazing.
Should I tell you that the theme was New York in the 1950’s? Or should I tell you it's going to be something brand new in this crazy industry? :)
I wish I could tell you more about this project but I promise that I’ll show you the final project as soon as its complete!
We’re living in a time when photos are being created at an incredible rate and with all the retouching everybody pretty much looks the same. Sometimes one feels it’s less about the person and more and more about the styling, the clothes, the fashion, and their flawless image. Do you think we’ve forgotten how to look critically at a photograph because of that?
If we’re talking about fashion and commercial photography, yes I can agree with you. It’s about trends, how you frame a picture, how you edit, etc.
If you have the courage to go away from this and get the books from the top shelf, you may have some pleasant surprises. If you can get rid of these “trends”, yes, a trained eye can have a critical perspective about any image, even if it's just commercial work or some random instagram post.
If you look at magazines and social media - you can see that so many of the images look the same. They use the same make-up, wardrobe, filters and similar body types. This is a real problem because they are role models for a lot of people.
Is curiosity maybe a photographer's most important trait? When do you know you have THE shot?
I don't know if it’s curiosity or passion, but it can be both :) Usually I check the camera from time to time and after I see a few strong images I'm moving on to the next shot.
Name some of your favorite photographers. What do you admire most about them?
The order is random but let's say Meisel, La Chapelle, Klein, Leibovitz, Newton, Lindberg, Recuenco, Walker and so on.
What I admire... let's say they are so influential and inspirational for any photographer these days.
Today authenticity is sought out on social media. Thanks to Snapchat, Instagram Live and Instagram Stories, the barrier between an overly curated feed and a more natural documentation of someone’s life has become blurred. What do you think about the PLANDID wave (a portmanteau of “planned” and “candid” - a plandid, when done successfully, should look as though you weren’t aware you were getting your photo taken)? Authenticity 2.0?
Yes, today more than ever social media is where most of the things are happening. It makes sense why everyone is trying to be more unique and more authentic. At the end of the day, this is what people are looking for.
I have never heard this term... "plandid". I think I know what your talking about. To be honest, I don't like it at all, hahaha. Especially when I see a lot of people trying to act like real models and looking away from the camera, it’s awkward, for me at least. If you can call it authenticity 2.0, yes, for sure you can call it whatever you like but it’s not new at all. Maybe it’s new for social media users ;)
We often say Wanderlust is our favorite LUST. How often are you traveling? Which cities inspire you most? Where would you like to retire?
Most of the time I am traveling these days it's for work. I’ve got to visit some cool places on these trips. Before I moved to Los Angeles I was in love with Paris, and I still am. I love L.A. though. I think it fits my personality way better. Of course the weather is amazing!
To retire, lets say somewhere close enough to the ocean that my home WIFI can reach the sand.
|CUTLER AND GROSS '1308' SUNGLASSES|
You live in Los Angeles. If you had to advise a newcomer who had only three days in the city and was keen to sense the real grit of it what would you recommend they do, and where?
I live in Venice Beach, which is a great place to check out.
There are so many amazing beaches in L.A. You can go surfing in the morning and snowboarding in the afternoon and finish your night in Las Vegas watching a great show or partying in a club.
How crazy is it that you can do all of this things in less than 24 hours?
What is the best way to party with friends in L.A.?
I’m not that into going to clubs, so chilling on the beach is what I like to do... or a nice bar as long as its close to the shore.
|DITA EYEWEAR 'FLIGHT 005 E'|
Coming back to Bucharest, what are your favorite places to go out? Have they changed throughout the years?
One of my favorite places that I recently discovered in Bucharest is Eden Garden. I love going out there, especially in nighttime and hanging out on those huge pillows :)
It’s so cool how you can have a place like that in the middle of the city. It looks like it's from another world, so quiet and peaceful!
When it comes to your personal style and favorite accessories, you’re often seen wearing a cap or a beanie and sunglasses. What would be your pick from our curated gallery? Match this pair with a song that you feel conveys the same mood as the glasses.
From a young age I always loved wearing hats, beanies etc. It's just what feels good to me :)
I’m always wearing sunglasses. I’m afraid I’ve started to have photophobia :P but it makes me feel more relaxed, especially here where we have plenty of sunny days.
My choice would be DITA Eyewear 'FLIGHT 005 E' and soundtrack for this road trip will be Chris Stapleton - Outlaw state of mind :)
Photo Credits: Raluca Margescu | Creative Concept: Roxana Marcu
Shooting Location: Nicodim Gallery Bucharest, during The Aderall And Ecstasy Exhibition
Background contemporary art by Razvan Boar, Phillip Kremer, Kenny Schachter, Simphiwe Ndzube, Simon Seez
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