I was born in 1956, in Bucharest, Romania. My parents would have liked to 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 the resurgence year for Eastern Europe came. On the 21st of December 1989, I took to the streets with my camera. 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 that 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 photographer for Sygma, AFP, EPA, and AP. Those were the best days I’ve ever had but I didn’t know it then.
In 1999 I made the choice which at that time seemed to lead me a step further: working on my own in commercial photography. Different world with different rules. I had my own studio, big cameras, big lenses, studio lighting kits and assistants. My clients were advertising agencies in most cases. I learned about the business and the workflow. (To get a feeling for the kind of work I’ve done, you might want to check out my old commercial website at www.andreiiliescu.ro)
More than ten years I spent working in my studio. It was a huge challenge, but all the times, photojournalism kept whispering in my ear and I remembered an old passion repressed over those years: travels. So I started traveling more and more.
Now I’m working mainly on personal long-term projects, being fascinated by the culture and vision of the people from all around the world.
And this very vivid image constantly appears in my mind: A schoolboy, 45 ago, skipping classes, wandering through his town, with his Praktica and some Orwo films in his pockets. And that’s who I will always be.