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Daniel Penciuc: Creativity and Perception in Portrait Photography

by Editor Marius Cinteză
Published the 10th of April 2020

Daniel Penciuc started his photography journey about 10 years ago with landscape compositions of beautiful Romanian regions. Then he discovered how to better use the light to create visual stories in people photography. For two years he attended photography workshops throughout the country, being attracted by the expressiveness of the people in rural areas. Portrait photography came therefore naturally. The birth of his daughter in 2015 opened new horizons in photography for Daniel and made him study more and experiment newborn photography concepts. He realized how important it is to capture every moment of our lives: this is how photographs become memories for a lifetime!

I invite you to discover more about Daniel and his amazing portrait photography portfolio in the interview below!

'The young lady and the sea'

Daniel, first I would like to thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions! To begin, please introduce yourself shortly and tell us more about you, your hobbies or other projects you are involved in!
I would like firstly to thank you for your interest and for inviting me to discuss about my photos and myself! I live in Brasov (Romania), I work in a corporation and my free time is dedicated to both my family and photography. For the future projects: recently I have discovered the photo manipulation and I'm working on improving this technique and including it in my workflow.


'The girl with the sleeping kitty'

When have you realized that you would like to start a photographic journey?
My first contact with photography was at age of 12, as a member of the Children’s Palace, where I learned the basics about using a film camera by taking landscape pictures and portraits. Joining high school made me stop this activity. But in 2010 I bought an entry level camera and I participated for the first time in a photography workshop, where I discovered the beauty of the Romanian villages and the excitement of the rural photojournalism!

'Portrait of Ilinca with roses'

For many of us photography is either a hobby or a way of life. How would you define your relationship with photography?
I couldn't say that photography it's only a hobby for me, but at the same time neither a way of life. Photography is my moment of silence, a way of getting out of the daily routine, the place where I express my creativity and perception about reality.

'Thinking about you'

What would be the most important experience so far that has influenced your steps in photography?
As mentioned before, in 2010 I truly started my photography journey and travelled through the Romanian villages for two years, along with other passionate photographers. Pictures with people were my favourites therefore the switch to portraiture photography came naturally. The birth of my daughter Ilinca in August 2015 widened my horizons and made me study newborn photography and, along with her growing up, children photography.

'llinca | The journey'

How do you maintain and grow your passion for photography?
In photography you can never say you know everything or enough, so I study many photographers all over the world and constantly raise my own limits. This makes me want to learn more and develop my techniques and editing knowledge so that together with my creativity I can create the pictures I imagine. In addition, I interact with photographers online through the photo groups and try to bring my contribution to the great Romanian photography community and to participate in workshops and conferences as often as possible.

'Dorothy | Dream or Reality?'

Can you please describe in a few words your photographer philosophy and mission?
For me, the most rewarding part of being a photographer is the recognition of my style when someone sees my images. I also feel great when I see one of my images printed and exposed. This makes me want to grow, to find new subjects and new ways to express my stories. I wish for my work to generate emotions, dreaminess, to show a different kind of beauty and maybe to inspire other photographers.

'Anna Karenina'

The portraiture photography that you enjoy is also the preferred genre among many photographers. What do you think that makes your portrait works different?
Portraiture photography is my favourite because it makes me come up with new ideas, to be more creative, considering that having only a model, outfits and a background the result has to be the one I've imagined.  When I take pictures outdoors, I like to play with all the elements from nature so that together with the model to create a good composition. Sometimes I add elements in post processing for a more spectacular effect, elements that are not completely out of reality, but which in normal conditions couldn't be captured there.

'A little bit of red'

Daniel, what is more important to you: the mood
, story behind your images or the technical perfection?
I'm not searching for the technical perfection in my images. For me it is more important the mood, the emotion that the picture can express. I had many good pictures, technically speaking, who didn't even get into the editing process because I consider they don’t convey an emotion.

'Girl with black balloons, II'

Where do you look for to find inspiration for the visual stories you want to convey by your photo works?
A scene from a movie or from a music video makes me think of a certain outfit or colour combination for a shooting session. Also, a place that I visit can inspire me. I imagine different pictures there and if I have the chance, I come back and take a photo session. Sometimes, the model can inspire me, an interesting face, the colour of the eyes or the colour of the hair.

'Hello Autumn'

What do you think are the secret ingredients for a remarkable portrait photography?
From my point of view the main ingredients for a remarkable picture are the emotion conveyed
by the model, the outfit and the colours that can increase the impact. I like to use a limited colour palette, in simple and contrasting combinations, to enhance the composition. The light and the strong colours are on the main subject. The other elements of the composition and the colours farther away from the attention point look more blurry, thus creating an atmospheric perspective and making the viewer focus on the main subject.

'Mother and baby'

Can you please tell us something more about your workflow for portrait photography?
Everything begins with an idea, an image that I build in my mind. Then I look for the appropriate model, the location and the outfit with the proper colour combination. Before starting to take pictures I discuss with the model about the final image, what I would like to express, so that she would imagine the result. With children photography is different and I've gone through different stages as my daughter has grown up. So, after putting together the model, location and outfit, sometimes I use accessories for keeping the child's attention. We are creating stories together or I'm asking questions about their favourite toys, so that the child doesn't stay focused on the camera and I can capture their natural expressions and emotions.

'Portrait of IIinca with lavender'

You have successfully involved your little daughter as a model in your works! How do you manage to successfully communicate with her (or children, in general), to make her fit in your story and to get the most of the mood from her performance in front of the camera?
I started to take pictures of my daughter from the moment she was born, followed by newborn pictures and after that portraits of her in studio or outdoors in nature, in vacations or places near Brasov. My wife creates the outfits and she also assists me during the photo sessions, so we discuss a lot during the process, we tell Ilinca what we want her to do, remember stories from the past or we create new ones, so that she would have the mood I want to capture. Photo sessions are quite short, no longer than 30 minutes. Now, since she is 4 years and 7 months the accessories and poses become more and more demanding!  :)

'IIinca into the fairyland of #malinca'

What do you think
is the main challenge of portrait photography?
The greatest challenge for portrait photographers is to be creative, to be fresh, to be able to make something different from other pictures, to capture an image that will be in the viewers’ mind for a long time.

What is your most important advice to a beginner in portrait photography?
Practice, practice, practice. In the same time, study portrait photography, because this will help them put into practice what they have learned. Also, to find their own style.


Many are of the opinion that the gear is not very important when the passion for photography is strong. However, can you please share with us what is the gear you use (camera, lenses, etc.)?
I fully agree with that, in photography it's more important what you know not what gear you have. I use a Canon 6D body and several prime lenses, but most of the time I only use three: Canon 135mm f/2, Canon 50mm f/1.4 and Lensbaby Twist 60 F/2.5.


What would be your favourite photo from the last years? Please share with us the story behind it.
My favourite one is „The young lady and the sea II“. I took this picture in September 2017, when we were in vacation in Cyprus, and Ilinca was 2 years old. This picture's idea started to grow in my mind in June 2017, when I took the first version of it in Italy. So, I thought about the colours that will be in the picture, my wife created the dress and, after we arrived in Cyprus, all we needed was to convince our daughter to wear the dress on a rock by the sea! To keep her attention, we told her a story about a princess who lived on the sea and she entered very easily in the story I wanted to create. I added a few elements in post-processing (the sky, the birds and the boat) to create the exact story that was in my imagination.

'The young lady and the sea II'

Who are your favourite photographers or mentors whose works have influenced you and your photography?
I enjoy the Russian photography school, but I study with admiration the portfolios of other worldwide photographers. I can mention only some of them who inspire me at this moment: Anka Zhuravleva, Irina Dzhul, Margarita Kareva or Alexander Vinogradov. My post-processing creativity was highly influenced by Monica Lazar in 2017 when I had the chance to meet her and learn from her experience.

'Girl in brown'

Now, since we almost reached the end of this interview, I would kindly ask you to share with us your plans or photographic projects you would like to involve in the future.
I started in 2017 a series with my daughter, called “Ilinca | The journey” and took pictures of her in almost all the places where we travelled together. In these pictures I try to show how reality looks through the eyes of my daughter, but interpreted by me as a photographer. I wish, as much as possible, to put in these pictures a very thin line between imagination and reality so that the viewer can believe that this could be the reality. This is a series that I would like to continue along with Ilinca, as she is growing up.


'A little bit of red'









'A little bit of red'



'Lavender thoughts'






'Girl with the pomegranate'



'Bohemian black'


What a wonderful serial of portraits, very nice to see, thank you for sharing!
Thank you, Jacob!!
Wonderful to have discovered you here Daniel. Inspiring work!
Thank you Patrick!
Daniel amazing work, I see wonderful planning and attention to detail, Portraiture at it's very best. Five Star....
Thank you Daniel!
Wonderful work, Daniel ! Great interview , Marius ! Congrats !!
Many thanks, Elena! Have a great day! :-)
Thank you Elena!