Interview
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Interview: Ioana Lungu

Ioana is a film photographer from Bucharest, Romania currently living in Ethiopia. Her work has a great personal touch that inspires me. Her instagram can be found here.

JM: What got you into photography?

IL: I’ve always been searching for moments that feel like home, and tried to make them stay. Mostly these were times spent with my friends, we were all a bit lost and trying to reconcile our full-time jobs and studies with a deeper yearning for moral and aesthetic ideals. This, and urban spaces or light-soaked afternoons spent at home, reading, talking or making food for loved ones made me want to reach out for the camera. There’s a quiet, muted poetry in mundane moments and I wanted to capture that in images. 

JM: Why do you shoot film?

IL: I got my first film camera as a gift and started using it because buying a digital one was, to put it simply, too expensive for my broke student life. The first rolls of film I shot were a disaster – getting used to a rusty 1970s Fujica without a functioning light meter wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. However, I kept shooting out of lack of alternatives and gradually fell in love with the look of film, but also with the meaningfulness of it all. Shooting film allows me to capture each moment consciously, and the fact that I only have 36 shots makes me think twice about what’s worth shooting and what not. Film feels like a craft, one that takes perseverance to master.

JM: How would you describe your style?

IL: Personal, unplanned, impulsive. 

JM: What is your favorite film?  Camera?

IL: Portra 400 and my old Fujica ST701.

JM: What drives you to photograph?

IL: I want to be able to capture intimacy, whichever form that takes.There’s nothing more touching and fascinating to me than people, the way they interact with each other and the space around them, the bonds we have and the way we relate to the world. That is why I am not interested in staged shots but rather aim to capture spontaneous moments of magic.

JM: What is a personal goal you have for your photography? 

IL: I want to photograph more, something I don’t always manage to do due to having a full-time job. I also want to overcome my shyness and ask people to let me photograph them more. Especially in East Africa, that’s not always an easy job, as people tend to be reluctant to have their picture taken by a stranger on the street.

JM: What do you look for in a photograph?  Is what you find compelling in a photograph different when it’s one of your photographs compared with one from someone else?

IL: I mostly look for emotion, the photograph has to stir something in me. Often it can be the colour scheme, the light or the subject. What draws me is a certain look of authenticity, a dreaminess that looks natural. I’d say I’m looking for the same things in my photography as well.

JM: What is your favorite shot you’ve ever taken?  What’s the story behind it?

IL: I took this photo after a long absence from Addis. I’d been gone to Europe for 1.5 months, officially expatriating myself and erasing all traces of my previous life in Vienna. I was a bit afraid of what it would feel like to arrive back in Ethiopia and if it would still feel right to commit the next years of my life to being there. When I got home at 6 AM, completely exhausted after a night flight, everyone was sleeping. I stood by myself in the living room, the sunrise light quietly flooding everything, and took a picture of this one solitary rose stuck in a bottle of wine. I knew then and there that this is home, that there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be.

JM: In what ways has your photography grown and improved since you started shooting film?

IL: I’ve grown more patient. I am more open to accidents, to pictures not turning out quite the way I wanted them to. I’ve also grown more confident in my style and have identified the direction I want to go in. I’d say my photography has become more purposeful, I’d rather take my time and shoot something that feels right to me than aimlessly produce images just for the sake of doing something.

More of Ioana’s work can be seen below:

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