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Elena Raceala – With a vision of her own

Interview by Vicente Dolz

Today, we interview Elena Raceala,, a semi professional photographer who lives in Constanta, a Romanian city on the shores of the Black Sea, and works as a nurse at Constanta Emergency Clinical Hospital.

Elena Raceala’s transition from street and travel photography has allowed her to express her unique vision and emotions, resulting in collections that can be categorized as Fine Art, characterized by surreal, grunge, or poetic elements. She strives to evoke the same emotions in viewers that she experiences when creating her frames.

With a soul constantly seeking new experiences, Elena Raceala explores a variety of photography styles, from moody street scenes to insightful reportage and creative portraiture. She experiments with innovative techniques such as using prisms and Lensbaby lenses, double exposures, and Intentional Camera Movement to push the boundaries of her art.

Currently, Elena Raceala is immersed in several projects, including conceptual explorations and themes inspired by her travels. Through her photography, she invites viewers to embark on a journey of introspection and discovery alongside her.

 
 
 
 
 

© Elena Raceala

Hello Elena,

Let’s start by telling  us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? Where are you from?

I want to thank you for the opportunity to take part in this interview. My name is Elena, I live in Constanta, a city located in Romania, on the Black Sea shore. I work as a nurse at Constanta Emergency Hospital. I love to travel and take pictures, I could say that I can’t visit a place unless I can take pictures.

Do you have additional passions beyond photography?

I  mention my passion for movies. I like old movies, especially black and white ones, they are movies that I watch whenever I have the opportunity, but I also watch new movies or TV shows. I’m looking for different points of view and new things in everything I do.

 Your favorite food?

 When I travel I like to experiment the local cuisine. Although the Romanian cuisine has a lot of dishes that are so delicious if I had to choose one, I would choose Pizza.

 Your favorite movie or film genre? Do you enjoy reading?

 I really enjoy reading, my family is very friendly with books, my father is a writer and my son reads a lot. Lately I try to divide my time between work and photography and I don’t have much time to read.

 What is your favorite type of reading?

 During this time I read books about art and the history of photography.

 Are you a sports person?

I had periods when I did different sports and periods when I didn’t have time to do anything. Now I am trying to walk daily on a predetermined route.

And now let’s focus on photography… How did you get started in photography?

 I can’t say exactly how and when it happened, but in one of my trips to Italy, in 2013, on a rainy morning I took my first photo to which I am dearly attached. At that time I had a compact camera from Nikon. From that moment on, a part of me lives, breathes through photography.

For  me, photography is definitely a way of life. I study, watch and read something new about photography every single day.  I consider this to be my path and I am grateful for discovering it. I like travel photography and all that comes with it but I feel at ease in black and white approaches and scenarios. I was initially self-taught, but later I attended several workshops and different courses  of  Photographic Art . Over the years I had many beautiful moments.  One of the most memorable ones is the entry into the S16 Vision photography group, from my city. This is how I discovered a new dimension of photography and the desire to see photography as an art.

Here, I’ve met a group of amazing people with whom I spent a lot of time talking about photography and  with whom we do a lot of photowalks.

 

© Elena Raceala

How do you think your life experience affects the photographs you take?

 The transition from travel and street photography to Fine Art was made out of the desire to express my vision, my message. I want to convey through my images the emotion of discovering the perspective of a moment, of a story without words.

I think a part of me is in each picture I take. My life comes through in my images. I find that in my work I tend to embrace light and hope. Every moment is unique, I stop every time my heart tells there is something special for me to photograph.

© Elena Raceala

How did other photographers influence your work?

 I think we are influenced by the masters before us. I am fascinated by black and white photography and mainly street photography. Fan Ho, Garry Winogrand, Henri Cartier Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Joel Meyerowitz are just some of the ones I have in mind now. There are also other contemporary photographers whose works I follow with great admiration.

Although I follow a lot of photographers I am trying to find my own style and vision.

How would you define your style in photography?

 I describe my work as Fine Art with a surreal or poetry valency, often inspired by street photography.

© Elena Raceala

Are you a fisherman or a hunter, photographically speaking? Do you start from a predefined idea or does photography suddenly appear?

 I am a hunter but sometimes I want to be a fisherman because there are places where it takes even a few hours  just to wait for the good frame.

When I go on a trip I do not make plans, everything happens randomly, so I think it is important to listen to your senses and capture the “decisive moment”. It happened to me to lose frames because I spent too much time thinking. I take pictures outdoors, in public transport, inside the buildings I visit … all places present different challenges and that is the beauty of it. Usually I do not go alone on trips and I have to adapt to the group, to my family in most of cases, which is in a continuous movement. The challenge comes from approaching the unknown. You cannot control the weather and the people around you so you have adapt continuously. You have to live the moment, go in with no expectations but be prepared for anything. Try to take advantage of each moment, for example if the shadows are very harsh you can do urban street photography, if it is raining you can focus on a mood moment.

That’s why I take a lot of pictures and I think the most important part is the editing. I think that you have to select only the images that are representative for you.

© Elena Raceala

What software do you use to process your photographs?

 My workflow in post processing starts with editing the photos. After I select the images I want to move forward I follow my inspiration and my feelings.. I primarily user Photoshop (or Camera Raw) and I use the Nik Collection and / or Skin Alien filter depending on the inspiration I have. Usually I have several alternatives of the same compositions and then I choose between one of them.

What is your favourite photo and why?

 My favorite photo was captured in my favorite place, Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples, among the columns of the San Francesco di Paola church, on a rainy day in November 2013 and coincidentally…or not, it is the image that showed me my purpose. I think that was the moment I chose photography…or photography chose me. This photo still excites me, after so many years and I realize that you can do photography with your heart, with your eyes…with what you have in your hand.

© Elena Raceala

What does turn an image into a good image? What does make it stand out?

 From my point of view, it has to convey something, to tell a story.The light, an element, the composition, must be something that makes you shudder, feel and stay with your eyes on it.

What are your plans and ideas for next projects?

 Travelling and photography are omnipresent with all the challenges that await me. Otherwise, I am thinking of approaching new conceptual or abstract themes.

© Elena Raceala

Our thanks to Elena Receala for her time and insights. 

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