My Bucharest, Her People: Photographer Cosmin Garlesteanu Captures His City


My name is Cosmin Garlesteanu and Bucharest is my home. About ten years ago, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, I decided to buy my first camera. I started by photographing everything that seemed interesting to me; mostly typical landscapes, exercising compositions, and learning a few things about colours. My work just felt empty while viewing it. It was lacking that human factor. Gradually, I started to make efforts to centre my work around other people and attempting to capture their emotions and those brief moments of wonder.

By nature, I’m not a photographer that takes pleasure in being aggressive with his subjects. I don’t want to be forward and disruptive. However, I realized that I had to get as close as possible to the subject to capture the intimacy. Fortunately, what better place than Bucharest to do that? A city with more than two million inhabitants that are both welcoming and caring. Romanians are famous for their hospitality, so why wouldn’t they accept one of their sons into their lives?

Bucharest is a pretty crowded city so you can easily encounter amazing moments of humor, an abundance of atmosphere, and no shortage of diversity. People are quite open and if you are likewise, and a bit patient, then only good things can come out of that.

There are some people that have argued that Bucharest has very little going on and is a horrible city in terms of photography. I completely disagree. Any place with people holds endless potential but it is just a matter of tapping into it. I feel that Bucharest is just as vibrant as any other city but you do need to understand its logic a bit more. I had to wait about half a year for a great juxtaposition but once I did then it became so much easier. You can’t be shy in this city. The city’s architecture doesn’t allow you to shoot from wide angles. The streets are narrow and crowded that demand you take your chances up close to people. Once you do, then a you are rich with beautiful humorous situations, lights, shadows, and geometries that both alive and candid to reveal Bucharest’s character.

Us Romanians are worriers by nature but we can all change our state of mind easily. Sometimes things can get a bit testy and aggressive but I’m always quick to get away! Most of the time, people have their own thoughts on their minds so they don’t really pay too much attention to me with a camera as they walk by. Or not too much. I try to take advantage as often as I can of their indifference and when I am already seen but I also often give up on that shot because the subject usually lacks naturalness.