Julien Oncete continuously amazes all viewers with his outstanding street photography. His vision on daily life excels because of its simplicity and warm humanity. His style is intensely narrative and reflects reality. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for conducting the interview. You will find more photos by the end of the article.
Could you please tell us about yourself, Julien?
I am 44 years old and I was born in Ramnicu Valcea city. My profession, for which I have a university degree, is economics. I have never practiced as an economist because my passion lay elsewhere. I am not married and I have no children and therefore I have the freedom to follow exclusively my passion in photography. I earn my bread and butter participating in events as a photographer but now I would like to have a more serious job in the field. I would be interested in photojournalism and photographic documentary.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
I have been interested in photography for many years. My childhood related to film photography as I used to help my father with it, my involvement being an indirect one.
One morning I just decided to buy a DSLR camera-Nikon D90. It happened in one moment of inspiration like when you suddenly decide to quit smoking (not my case yet). What lead to that moment was a sequence of events, but I remember the magical morning in the mountains with my friends and that I wished to have a camera to capture what I saw and what I loved on the mountains. This is the way it all started, this is how I started to love photography, this is how the passion was born. After about a month I took an intensive training in photographic art. It lasted several months in Bucharest 2011.
From that moment on, my everyday life revolved around photographic art, either by reading about composition and style, attending workshops, going outdoors to take photos, or being an active member of the local photo club Floarea de Colț and last but not least learning from and admiring so many talented members of the 1x community.
Describe your overall photography vision.
My photographic vision could be summarized in one phrase: bits of everyday life that we pass by without giving them any importance, instances that are sweet reminders of the past. Perhaps this is the reason I am so attracted to street and everyday photography.
What is more important to you, the story behind your images or the technical perfection?
The story behind the image is everything to me. I admit that my camera has a few buttons/features that I do not know anything about.
Could you please describr your work flow?
Obviously, one cannot prepare to the last detail a street and everyday photo. It depends on observation, anticipation, luck and some experience, the most important factor is often luck. You can plan for the sun’s position (the light at different times of the day and seasons) and you need to have the patience to wait for something to happen in your frame. I very much like to shoot street in foggy conditions. I simply adore it.
What gear do you use and what software to process your images?
As I said I started with a Nikon D90 using several lens 11-16/35/50/105/16,5-135mm. In the last year I had the opportunity to switch to a full frame camera, a Canon 1DsMark III, using just one lens for now, a Canon EF 70-200mm f2,8L IS II USM. By the end of the year I hope to get a second lens in order to cover a wider focal length. I work on a 23 inches Dell monitor/ display (color!!) and I use Adobe photoshop CS6 and Nik software.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Documentary photographer?
The most important advice I could give to a beginner in street and everyday photography is to love people.
Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
The most important photographers to me that influenced my vision are: Patrick Demarchelier, Brassai (born in Romania), Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Capa and the list could go on, also many photographers from the 1x community. Looking at their photos not only inspires me but also stimulates me to go shoot…
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a great deal and why?
I could not speak about one particular photo or photographer being influential but there are numerous photos and photographers here on 1x that I admire and visit often. I will not name them for reasons of fair play.
See my playlist of favourites.
In the future I would like to travel as much as possible. Especially to the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium, a place that fascinates me. No wonder so many talented photographers come from there. My future photographic vision will follow and be influenced by the places I will see and the people I will encounter.
Describe your favorite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
My favourite photo is ”Our childhood”, published here on 1x. It tells the story of children waiting for something good to happen, but with a doubting expression in their eyes. Looking at this photo makes my eyes teary sometimes...
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
I first found out about 1x from the teacher that held the photo training I attended in 2011. He used to speak with great admiration about the high quality of this community and of the published photos. Since then, I tried very hard to publish one of my photos here. I succeeded in December 2013 to have my first photo published and it felt like a great victory. I searched for other photo websites to see if they fit me but finally I stopped because this community is really my home which is why I am so honoured by this interview and I would like to thank Yvette Depaepe, for whom I hold a deep admiration.