Felicia Simion, an extraordinary nineteen year-old Romanian photographer, recently won grand prize in the 2nd Annual International Teen Photo Photography Contest. We spoke to her about her homeland, her photography, and her future goals. You can view more of Felicia’s photography on her Facebook page.
Tell us about your grand-prize image.
The portrait is of my father’s aunt, who was leaving her village. It is one of my dearest pictures, as it’s the only photographic memory I now have of her, since she passed away. I guess she took the train to Heaven.
How did your start your career in photography?
When I was 13, I discovered deviantART. I was immediately fascinated by a few amazing photographers (my biggest inspiration back then was Lara Jade). My parents were supportive enough to support my new passion, which I knew ever since the beginning I would never let go of.
How did you learn photography? What websites/classes/parents/people helped you get started?
Basically, I’ve learnt everything by myself, as I’ve always had this huge urge and stubbornness to experiment on my own, so I took the camera and started to take photos of the beautiful things I saw around me. I could never be here without the help of my family and friends, who have understood my passion ever since the beginning, and were the ones to carry me to special places, or model for me, or even just share a few encouragement words.
Well what happened next? You have quite the online following, with over 25,000 followers on your Facebook page.
I started seeing my photos on the Popular section on deviantART, and I was gaining more and more followers. Although I’ve never actually tried to get popularity, it has been growing in a rather surprising way.
What equipment do you use now? What did you start out with?
I use a Canon 7D with three lenses: 60mm f/2.8, 17-35mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/4L. Before the 7D, I had a 400D.
What is the one lens you would never part with?
The 60mm! Too perfect for portraits.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I dream of being part of the National Geographic team, or anything that involves loving, exploring and caring for life.
Looks like you just graduated from high school. I’m going into my senior year next year in fact. What are your plans in the next few months?
Well, I’m applying to an art college in Bucharest to study Photography and Videography. Hopefully I’ll be able to study abroad for a few months, or collaborate with some magazines. Who knows what will happen? I only hope that my love for photography shall never languish.
Gosh, it seems like everyone in Europe can communicate in three languages minimum. It’s not fair!
<Chuckles> No trust me, it’s not like that. You have America!
Yeah, but Eastern/Central Europe seems so much more exciting. The USA can get pretty mundane.
Europe’s only great if you have the money to travel. Because if you don’t, you get stuck in a place with very very few opportunities.
How is Romania by the way? Does your environment provide a good place to photograph? How has it impacted your development as a photographer?
To be honest, it is a magic place to live in. But I have explored too little of it, and I intend to change that these years. We have the Black Sea, the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube, we have medieval areas, traditional villages, we are so vast, yet there is a certain feeling that keeps us unsatisfied. We cannot enjoy its wilderness when the people themselves are animals. There is a lot of graceless thinking. It makes photographers wish they were invisible.
Well, I wish you the best in your career in the next few years. You’re going to do great things. What five words would you use to describe your photography?
Intrinsic, shy, candid, uncaged, furtive. That was hard!
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- Interview with the Judges: Vaughn Wallace and Miriam Leuchter - June 5, 2013