If you are a Romanian photography lover, it is impossible not to know Mihai Moiceanu. He is one of the most devoted and talented photographers from România, passionate by mountains, nature and travelling all over the world. He has and exceptional and refined artistic sense but at the same time, an extreme adventurer young spirit.
He took a lot of awarded masterpieces and is recognized worldwide after more than 30 years of experience. Mihai is both, a life-time experienced mountaineer and an extraordinary photography teacher.
Who is the man behind his photographs, Mihai? Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a dreamer trying to bring dreams in real life. As a teenager I wanted to become a nature photographer, to trek in the mountains and take nature pictures. In my youth time (communist era) it was a dream way ahead from reality, but I managed to adapt into real life. I was a self thought photographer until I realized that I needed to go to school. Later on I decided to become a professional photographer, beside being an engineer and that was really odd at the time. When I started it was a period of intense learning both technical and artistic from 1992 until 1999. Then I had an intermezzo and took movies while working for a TV station where I built up some interesting projects, following my dreams as a producer of a nature focused weekly program. I came back to photography because it gave me the freedom to fulfil my dreams: travelling the world and making nature and travel photography. In my youth I was dreaming of climbing all the interesting mountains worldwide. But I realized that climbing and photography demand a different approach, that's why I followed my dreams regarding photography: meeting people, seeing places from all around the world.
When did your passion for photography appeared first? Why mountaineering and travelling in addition? Where do these passions come from?
First it was nature and mountains discovering them with my family. As far as I can remember those were my very first memories. Photography came later when I was teenager. In the mountains you experience wide open spaces and from there to travelling is just a step forward. My travels always include mountains or nature as a main destination. But I’m also in love with Danube Delta and it’s bird photography or sailing with a yacht along the shores of Dalmatia. Travelling means freedom and this is what I like.
You are known as one of the best landscape photographers in Romania. How do you differentiate yourself from the rest in such a popular genre? Beside landscape photography, what other genres do you approach and why?
I didn’t feel that I had to be different from others. I just needed to be myself and I tried to understand and reveal my perceptions through my photography. I really like to understand what I photograph, to know as much as possible about my subjects. Meeting nice people in extraordinary places results in strong portraits. If something has a visual impact on me I will photograph it in order to express myself, so I do not categorizes my work.
How would you characterize your style?
A lot of people tell me that they recognize my style of photography. For me is hard to define myself so I will take some words from a photographic chronicle: „Without inhibitions, fully mastering the technique, in front of light delaying on things, cutting them out of the content of matter or immersed in the contemplation of beauty, the photographer has the vocation of art: to redeem the wealth of the individual as a participation in the general, to follow the affection in its human sensibility of the complexity and beauty of the world. There are not many who have seen the mountains as Mr. Moiceanu shows them, who seem painted by him and not shoot, because the image is the result of a way to think, to feel and to say, and it is a way to collaborate on the permanent creation of the universe.“
How would you define photography in general?
Photography is an exercise in observing, an easy language to understand but also very complex at the same time. For me it is challenging to find people, places and and subjects to express into my images. Photography is easy to be understand by the spectator, but the creator need to have the emotions, the knowledge and the talent to do it. Photography is all about ideas, passions, desires experienced the moment when the pressing the shutter.
You got a lot of awards during your career as photographer. Which are the most important and why?
The biggest prize is to be known by the public. Along the time I have received a lot of prizes, international and national and I was part of many juries. If you won a lot of awards it means that a sum of juries and photographers appreciate your work and identify the value of your photography in order to reveal it to the public. When it happens often it means that your photos has a certain value. But again the biggest prize is the public.
Who are the Romanian and foreign photographers that inspired you a lot?
Well I need to name a lot of photographers here because there are so many good ones that influenced me along the years. But I will name only those who influenced me since the very beginning, those who have opened my eyes to what is really important. I admire Dan Dinescu because of his special relation with Romanian landscapes and the authentic back country life in Romania. As international photographers I like to name Galen Rowell and Art Wolfe for their complex approach of photography.
What is the percentage of editing in your digital work?
It depends on the purpose of the photography. As a professional photographer I have to answer to a large demand in commercial photography. Sometimes the final photography will be edited in depth in order to fulfil the demand of the customer, take out the background and mount the image with another one, chromatic alteration, etc. On the other hand if I take documentary I will do only basic editing in order to keep everything untainted. If I want to express myself I try to keep the editing at a low level, the same one that I was doing in my darkroom in the argentic times. Digital photography allows me to be more precise, more relevant in processing my photos. I do believe that the photographer has to stay inside the craftsmanship of photography to use the specific means that defines it in order to express himself. I do like other techniques too but I keep a difference between them. I think that the most important in photography today is to be honest. If you put another sky in an image just because you want the final photo to be more „relevant“, it is not nature any more but fine art photography and you have to say it. If you make staged photography you can’t say is journalism. You can’t built up your career on manipulating your audience.
What motivates you to go on with photography?
I love photography and everything that is connected with it. Nature, travelling, people. It simply makes me happy.
Do you have new photographic projects in the future?
I have some projects for the future, sometimes too many :). Of course, not all of them will come to the expected result. But when looking back I realize that I'm on the move since a long time and I do not see any reason to stop.