19 December 2009
I just learned I am an honorable mention in this great contest for a series of pictures from my Bucharest 20 Years Later work. Read about it here. The three images and text below are what I submitted for review.
Since 2000 I have been transfixed by the Eastern European country of Romania. Immediately after finishing college I even went and lived for a year with peasants in a village in the Carpathian mountains lost somewhere in the 18th century. Today, I work from the capital Bucharest and in this 20th anniversary year of The Fall of Communism and The Romanian Revolution I am attempting to capture aspects of the current state of this city that suffered the worst of the former Eastern Bloc Communist regimes under dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
By 1989, Romania was a police state akin to North Korea with the feared Securitate (secret police) waging a war of psychological oppression against ordinary Romanians. Ceausescu starved his own people and, at the end, shops were empty and electricity and heat intermittent. While economic progress was slow in the 1990s, the last five years have seen nothing less than astounding change as banks began to make loans and the entire population went on a shopping spree for the first time. Almost overnight top of the range BMWs and Mercedes flooded the streets, hip fashions appeared and trendy cafes and restaurants opened everywhere. Yet Bucharest is still plagued with myriad problems. The society has never fully confronted its past and former Securitate continue to operate within the government. Romania is famous for its fatalism having suffered centuries of foreign domination long before its 40 years of totalitarian rule, and today the majority of the population seems to have accepted the rampant corruption.
Through photographing the fashions and trendy new life along with remnants of the Communist regime I am seeking to translate the enigma of Bucharest. The reportage is less a photojournalistic documentary but what one foreigner seeks to find in Bucharest 20 years later. It remains to be seen what will become of the city once known between The World Wars as ‘The Paris of the East’.
13 December 2009
08 December 2009
28 November 2009
Check out this one about Herta Müller from The Guardian and also this overview of the situation in Romania from The Huffington Post as the country faces a heated presidential election 20 years after the Revolution.
16 November 2009
Nouveaux riche at the expensive Balthazar restaurant in Bucharest, 14 November 2009.
Listen to this damning NPR report about the corruption in Romania 20 Years after The Revolution here and read a Guardian article about it here.
12 November 2009
I just got back from a nice weekend in Poland. I am continuing my 'Bucharest: 20 Years Later' Project and am photographing luxury cafes, bars and restaurants, shopping malls, luxury stores and luxury apartments this week.
02 November 2009
Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu speaks to the press. Mungiu is one of the leading filmmakers of Romania's New Wave of the past few years. His film '4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days' won the Palme d'Or at The 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
Leslie Hawke in a black wig at the cocktail hour.
300 Euro a plate dinner.
Ethan Hawke with Cristian Mungiu to the right.
The after party.
On Halloween I took photos at the annual charity event for Leslie Hawke's NGO Ovidiu Rom which seeks to help put impoverished Romanian children in school. The gala took place in Ceausescu's Palace and it was simply a spectacular event with beautiful people in an amazing location. I also got to meet one of my favorite actors of all time, her son Ethan. Ovidiu Rom is doing work of the first order and I was happy to be there.
30 October 2009
I did a portrait assignment here in Bucharest recently for The Chronicle of Higher Education back in the US. I spent some time with Zoe Petre, a professor of Ancient History at The University of Bucharest. You can read the story about how academia has changed in Eastern Europe in the past 20 years here.
27 October 2009
I previously linked to the online version of the interview that the Romanian newspaper 'Gandul' did with me back in September, but above is what it looked like in print.
24 October 2009
In January I had the privilege of participating in a group project titled 'This Day of Change' organized by the magazine Courrier Japon which sent 132 photographers from around the world out to capture life on Barack Obama’s inauguration day. Both Japanese (pictured above) and English language versions of the book have been published. Check out the website devoted to the project here and my page on the site. The Japanese version can be purchased from Amazon Japan and the English version from Amazon.com. The book was recently nominated for a Lucie Award.
23 October 2009
19 October 2009
More photos from my ongoing project about Bucharest 20 years after The Fall of Communism and The Romanian Revolution. Well dressed women are everywhere, nightclubs abound and yet remnants of the Communist era remain such as this kiosk. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the first set of pictures.