Who-Is-She: Natalia Ciobanu

Photography has become one of the most wide-spread hobbies of our time. Since most of the equipment has become available, we can see more and more people around with digital cameras. Every day we discover pages of new photographers in the net, but not all of them are unique and professionally recognized worldwide. Today we are going to interview a Photographer – right, in capital letter – from Moldova who is not just taking photos but creating real pieces of art. These words are not hollow – this young lady’s works have been recognized and highly rated all over the world, received numerous awards. Her photographs can be seen not only in the internet but in cafés, as book covers, in different photo magazines all over the world. Interested? Please welcome – Natalia Ciobanu

- When and why did you get into photography?
Natalia: I was about 18 when I got into it. At that time I had a simple photo camera and took pictures of everything that surrounded me in everyday life. A bit later the world of photography became more interesting for me, I understood I wanted to dive into it and to express myself, to try to create something valuable rather than just fix the contemporary world. I met my future husband then, who was already a successful photographer, and he taught me a lot of things, shared his experience with me. That’s how I came into the world of photography. 

- How can you describe the genre of your photography?
Natalia: It’s a soul portrait – and my personal website is called in the same way. I try my best to show the portrayed person the way I see and feel him. The picture must be filled with emotions, thoughts and – what is most important – sincerity. It is also essential for me to tell the story inside the photograph. The spectators’ feelings and thoughts are also of high priority. 

Photo by Bolucevschi Vitali
- The style, post-processing, colour scheme and other details of your photographs resemble paintings to many people. It is often really difficult to call your works ‘photos’, because they are associated with pieces of painted art. Could you tell us about your attitude to painting? Who are your favorite artists, do you like to attend thematic exhibitions?
Natalia: I admire Gustav Klimt’s paintings and Leonardo da Vinci’s personality. I enjoy looking at pictures that were created by geniuses centuries ago. Unfortunately, my hometown hosts few painting exhibitions, and I have already visited the existing ones a hundred times. When traveling, I always spare an hour or two for visiting different galleries. I enjoy every moment I’m spending in front of such amazing creations. My eyes rejoice at the rave of colour while my heart fills with joy by this infinite beauty. These paintings have history inside of them, they have soul. All the best that has ever existed on Earth is collected in these pieces of art.

- Could you name your main values in life?
Natalia: My values in life are closely connected with my family and people I love. Everything is interrelated in my life and it keeps pace with my photography – I am sure it will become my life’s work.  

Photo by Bolucevschi Vitali
- What inspires you to create your photographs?
Natalia: Generally, it all goes according to a well-known scheme: a person-his eyes-thoughts-the birth of an idea. Yes, everything is so trite and banal, perhaps. People get acquainted with me, and vice versa. Sometimes one or two shots are sufficient to become a solid and firm basis of our future cooperation and sometimes they’re not. When so, we start communicating more and more in order to get to know each other better, to feel each other. We begin to understand whether our cooperation will be fruitful or not. Very rarely, even if all this is insufficient to set up our creative cooperation, we meet and spend some time together –more than once, if necessary. And then everything helps us: daytime, night time, music, smiles, eyes…
Yes, it is a person – in all his beauty, with his complicated appearance – that becomes a source of inspiration for me. Every person, there are no exclusions. I have no fear of being mistaken or failing something – I fear not to disclose the soul of a person portrayed. 
That is how it usually goes. However, it might go different. Sometimes there happen to be ideas inspired by mood, music, films and even by passers-by in the streets – by everything that lives around us. A desire emerges to find someone to take photos of and to express everything I feel. But as quickly this feeling emerges, so quickly it disappears replaced by similar creative outbursts. They often slip out of my mind. I really promise to myself to keep a notebook with me and to put down the ideas… and keep forgetting that. Only the steadiest ones survive in my mind and are eventually put down in the notebook.

- We all know you have received numerous awards for your photography. Please accept our most sincere congratulations! Could you tell us which of those awards was the most important for you?
Natalia: Thank you so much! The most important award… well, it’s a difficult question. Every win was significant for me. I am particularly proud of a silver medal I got for a French contest last year. But this year I experienced a more important victory: I got two golden medals from Austria! I’ve won in some nominations of ‘Trierenberg Super Circuit’, a large-scale competition with lots of talented photographers and photographs participating in it. And the fact that it is my photographs that have been ranked so high is of immense significance for me. Some call this competition an ‘Oscar’ in modern photography.

'The Dawn' by Natalia Ciobanu
The winner of the 'Trierenberg Super Circuit' contest
- Is it difficult for you to pick out photos from a photoshoot? Do you select them on a shoot or at home, looking at the photographs on a large display? 
Natalia: I only take photographs and enjoy the process and communication with my model during the shoot. I pick out shots that are going to ‘live’ at home. It’s becoming far more difficult to select the photographs for post-production since I get more and more good shots. At present I pick out photographs according to the model’s state in the shot rather than to technical, compositional and artistic aspects – I’m not worrying about them anymore.  

Photo by Natalia Ciobanu
- Tell us about the photoshoot you remember best of all. 
Natalia: It is my recent shoot for the advertisement of the ‘Tetia-Motia’ café which is located in Odessa, Ukraine. I went there in early October with almost everyone from my creative team. This trip has given me only positive impressions and memories, though we were working continuously for 13 hours and didn’t sleep for a day. I was very impressed by the customer’s approach to the shoot, his attitude to the process, by the tasks set and the possibility to bring them to life. You know, I could keep on telling you about my thoughts for hours, but still no words can express my deep respect towards those people I got to know in Odessa. At such moments you understand you’re on the right track and that only commitment and sincere love for your job result in success. 

Natalia giving an interview during her personal exhibition
- Probably, every person has a place in the world where he relaxes, gets rid of all pains, worries and bad thoughts. A place that gives him inspiration. Do you have a place like that in your life?
Natalia: It’s every place where I take photos or edit them. 

- It goes without saying your job is amazing. We strongly hope that the thing you’re doing brings you only joy and that it is the job you’ve been dreaming of. However it is not unknown that every business has its pros and cons. Can you name them? According to your personal experience, surely.
Natalia: I sincerely love what I’m doing, it is wonderful, and that’s why I consider myself to be a very happy person. What ‘cons’ can there be in a thing you love to do every day, in a thing that brings you happiness and joy?

Photo by Bolucevschi Vitali
- That’s reasonable! And the last question. What are your future plans for photography?
Natalia: I’ll keep on doing and enjoying my favourite job! It’s in my plans to derive only pleasure from it. 

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