“When you want something from the bottom of your heart, the Universe will show you a way,” says Romanian photographer Cristina Venedict about her path to photography. She loves using primary complementary colors in her portrait work, which allows her soul to speak to the viewer using styles learned from art school. But her path to discovering photography wasn’t all that straightforward.
It’s only the lucky among us who genuinely find what our calling in life is. Many of us are stuck in mundane 9-to-5s, wishing we had an outlet to express our creative thoughts (me, for almost 15 years of my life). And yet, many others stuck in that same rut are still wondering what they could possibly do creatively. Despite going to art school, Cristina took a few years to realize what she really loved doing. Step by step, she began bringing her imagination to photography and gradually taking it to higher levels of artistry. Her portraits have bagged her 1st place in the Romanian category at the World Photography Awards on two occasions now.
The Essential Photo Gear Used by Cristina Venedict
Cristina told us:
I was always amazed by dreamy images. When I started with photography I wasn’t fully satisfied with the lenses that were on the market. I couldn’t create my desired images. Searching for new lenses, I stumbled upon Lensbaby. It was love at first sight!
The Phoblographer: Hi Cristina. Please tell us about yourself and how you got into photography.
Cristina Venedict: I have never dreamed nor thought I would be a photographer. I graduated from an art school, and I studied psychology at university. But all my life, I was fascinated by people. I love people, and I could spend hours looking at them and observing their gestures, unique features. I even make up my own impression about them just for the fun of it.
After I graduated from university, I practiced for a while as a psychologist. During that time, I was very upset because I felt I was not doing something that represents me. I felt I wasn’t true to myself. I know that during that time, all I wanted was to do something I loved. And when you want something from the bottom of your heart, the universe will show you a way. I remember one day I was chatting online with a friend, and she showed me a picture taken by her brother. When I saw it, I smiled and thought to myself that I could do better, and I felt that that was what I want to do: photography.
Then I started to create my own world and express myself through the images I created. It was like I was making for myself a universe made of dreams. It was a new wonderful feeling; I felt at peace with myself, I felt happy. With the help of my camera, I went from the surreal world to the real one.
The Phoblographer: You use your mobile phones a lot when shooting portraits. Not exactly the first choice of gear for a portrait photographer. How do you deal with optical issues like distortion etc when doing this?
Cristina Venedict: At first, I was challenged by how I could handle taking pictures with a phone. But more recently, I photographed an entire session with just the phone. And I can say that it was a delight for me.
I like the format 3:4 and the wide lens; it makes it easier for you to get into the soul of the subject and find more creative angles. I like that I can take photos in raw format and be able to edit them later, just like a professional camera.
The Phoblographer: How did you get those slivers of red light when using the smartphone cameras?
Cristina Venedict: I use a led focusing light and some crystal from Lensbaby Omni. (See the bottom of the page for a video about this)
The Phoblographer: Reds and browns feature prominently in your work. Tell us what influences this
Cristina Venedict: In general, I love the complementary colors; I really like the color yellow as well as the color green. I think maybe it’s a period, and it comes from inside me.
The Phoblographer: There’s a very distinct color palette and style to your work. How long did it take to develop this style.
Cristina Venedict: I like the portraits photographed by me to be pictorial. Harmony between color, model position, and clothing. Music, fashion magazines, art, films, have been all parts of my universe. I have accumulated a lot of information, and photography came naturally in my life.
The Phoblographer: How important is a signature style for photographers to distinguish themselves?
Cristina Venedict: It’s nice for people to recognize your work. The style is formed over time, and all the information acquired is reflected through photography.
The Phoblographer: There’s a lot of production that goes behind your images. Can you tell us how you plan these shots, especially what inspires a surreal photoshoot idea in your mind
Cristina Venedict: The inspiration is very important. Also, the composition elements, the model, the music, and the final touch, that being the photo processing. Sometimes when I want a more complex project, I think about the concept, the props, the model, the decorations, the desired atmosphere, and sometimes I just leave things alone. I like both approaches, and much depends on my mood.
The Phoblographer: Are there any schools of art or photographers that inspire your portrait shoots?
Cristina Venedict: Degas, Picasso, Toulouse Lautrec and many others were the ones who have marked the strokes and rich experiences that you feel when you see a work created by them. During high school and college, I was extremely passionate about fashion. I had collections of fashion magazines, trying all sorts of combinations, and I was even pretty creative fashion combinations. All that surrounds us, fashion, lifestyle, human warmth and beauty, are an inspiration.
The Phoblographer: You were the Romania winner for the 2016 World Photography Awards. Tell us about the winning images.
Cristina Venedict: I won the same award in 2016 and in 2021. I think I was lucky to send some photos that resonated with the jury members.
I was glad I won these prizes, and it makes me want more from myself. It was a moment of joy to win these prizes.
The Phoblographer: How influential was that accolade in furthering your professional career as a photographer?
Cristina Venedict: It only confirms to me that I have chosen the right path and that there are still things that I should discover in myself and bring to the surface.
The Phoblographer: Does your portraiture style tend to spill over into your wedding work as well?
Cristina Venedict: I like shooting at weddings and festivals too because I find that it makes people be real; they show their true selves. Bring people together, and it makes them be themselves.
I love Lensbaby lenses. They help and simplify my editing work a lot. I like to use Lensbaby, even though they are manual lenses. Because of the manual focus, you don’t have to press click very often, but you do have to find the perfect moment to shoot.As for the focal length 60 mm (Twist60) fits me best.
The Phoblographer: Lastly, if you weren’t a photographer, what direction do you think your artistic spirit would have taken
Cristina Venedict: I think I would have been a fashion designer.
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