photo credit: Cristi Crisbasan
I was born in 1956, in Bucharest, Romania, to a family of artists, so I think that my passion for all things creative was in many ways predestined. My parents thought I would become a sculptor, or a painter, like them. Instead, I set up to conquer the world with my fully-manual-Russian-camera.
I held my first camera at 14 and my passion for photography lived and grew stronger ever since. Art, though, was not the best option in those times. So, while I got a Master’s Degree in Engineering, I kept photographing the world around me.
But times have changed and 1989, the year the Eastern Europe Stood Still, came. On the 21st of December 1989, I took to the streets with my camera. I was shooting my photos while the regime troops were shooting bullets. I was arrested shortly, put in jail and released after Ceausescu’s flight. Free, I found myself back on the streets, working to bear witness to the sacrifice of the heroes and victims of this Revolution. And just then, a miracle happened: a photographer with a huge, beautiful camera slipped on the ice right in front of me. I lent him a hand. He happened to be Pascal Parrot, photographer for Sigma. Next day, I resigned from my job, and for the following 8 years I was a professional photographer for Sygma, AFP, EPA, and AP.
Eventually I took what at that time seemed to be a step further: working on my own in commercial photography. A different world with different rules. I learned a lot about the business and the workflow. I now worked in my own studio, big cameras, big lenses, light kits, assistants. My clients were advertising agencies in most cases. (To get a feeling for the broad range of work I’ve done, you might want to check out my old commercial web-site at www.andreiiliescu.ro, or download a CV)
But all this time, photojournalism kept whispering in my ear, beckoning me. So I started to travel, more and more. Now I’m working mainly on personal long-term projects, be fascinated by the culture and vision of the various people from all around the world.
And this very vivid image appeared to me. A schoolboy, 40 ago, skipping classes, wondering through his town, with his Praktica and some Orwo films in his pockets. And that’s who I will always be.