Interview of Elena Aldea
by Jack Savage
1. Welcome Elena to the Influx Gallery family. Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are from?
Hello and thank you very much for this opportunity. My name is Elena Aldea and I am from Romania. What can I say about myself? I originally started with film photography more than 20 years ago. Over time things evolved, I gave up film photography and switched to digital. This has allowed me to make a lot of mistakes and learn just as much. After all, mistakes made with digital cameras didn't cost money, did they? Of course this forced me to use image processing software, which gave me a lot of opportunities to create.
2. Were your family supportive of you deciding to become an artist?
I never thought I could become an artist. At least not at the beginning of my career. But with time, diversifying my subjects and style, participating in numerous competitions and photography salons, I found that my works are appreciated and awarded. Probably in time without realizing it, I was heading towards being an artist. For my family this was new and somewhat perhaps unexpected considering that each of them have interests that are in no way related to art or photography. And perhaps for this very reason they support me and appreciate my work.
3. Was there anything specific that you can remember that made you want to become an artist?
I think everyone who has a passion wants to excel in it. Mountaineers want to conquer the highest mountain peak, researchers want to invent the best cure for a disease, and artists want to be recognized by the art world, they want their work to be exhibited and sold. For every true enthusiast, all this is more important than money. In fact all efforts are made not to earn money in the first place but to have your work recognized and appreciated ........ whatever its nature. All these considerations pushed me towards refining and diversifying my style, which invariably led to becoming an artist.
4. Did your schooling or work affect your creative development in any way?
I did not study art or photography. Everything I have come to realize is based only on my interest and passion for photography and digital compositions. Basically I am in a continuous learning process.
5. When did you first discover photography and digital art?
I discovered photography as a teenager when he found a film camera lying around the house, lost in a drawer. I can safely say that I have used and broken many rolls of film :). I knew nothing about framing rules, composition, light, etc. But I didn't give up and with the digital camera I was able to solve some problems in real time. So I switched to digital processing software and digital compositing. All the steps have helped me get where I am and do what I do.
6. Your use of monochromatic shadows and light is unique and breath-taking. Can you tell us a little about your process, without giving away too many secrets?
Black and white photography has been and will remain my soul photograph. I love the contrasts and shadows that give an added mystery or story to black and white images. The lack of colour gives expression and depth. I generally work with a single light source. This helps me to highlight the most important elements of the theme or subject. It's not much of a secret, but used skilfully you can create works of art.
7. Where do you get your inspirations and influences from?
I have never and will never keep track of trends. From my point of view, to be trendy is to copy more or less ...... the trend. I can start from the idea that interpretation is a product of my mind. I can say with certainty that I am far from the limits of my mind ....... if they really exist.
8. Your evocative imagery combines surrealism with fantasy and dreamlike visions. Would you say your process of creating is part of a conscious or unconscious process?
One of the reasons I started working on digital compositions is that it's the only way I can create what I see and think. It's unlikely that in reality I will find what comes to mind. And if I could create a particular scene in the studio, the costs would certainly be very high and it's unlikely that I would find all the necessary elements. So for most of my images, the digital medium becomes my studio where I spend hours or days to bring an idea to fruition. I love surreal scenes. Here anything is possible and there are no limits. I am not interested in respecting the conventional and the rational. In the world of my mind anything is possible. The idea is always somehow anchored in reality, even if insignificant, and the interpretation is often surreal - when I choose to work on a theme of this kind. Because in general, we humans live obsessed lives where the extraordinary usually never arrives. Then we create dreams and illusions.
9. Could you give us a little information and back story behind your favourite piece of work that you have created?
Unfortunately I can't say I have a favorite image. Or more accurately I have images that I prefer at a certain time. Then I create something else that I like better than the previous one. At the moment I like "The Birds" series which I am trying to develop to 10 images. I don't know if I will succeed, but I will try. The idea behind it? Initially I tried to create an angel - Angels and Demons is a project I've been thinking about for a long time - but the elements didn't fit. So I ended up with birds. After creating Transformation - where a naked woman turns into a bird - I knew I would create a series with this theme. That's how the series, which I still consider in the progress, "The Birds" came about.
10. Tell us about your favourite exposure style.
I always work in manual mode. This allows me to set parameters on the fly and adapt to the position and fit of the model. I'm not very technically savvy with the camera and I can't say that I'm very attracted to it. That's why I use few of its functions, because I'm more interested in the model and the naturalness with which it poses. With a good light and a correct exposure time , with a good model ....... only imagination is the limit.
11. What camera were you shooting with?
As I said, the technical part is not my strong point. I use a Canon 40D camera which has been out of production for several years. I sometimes think about changing it ......... but I guess I've become like an old man who can't part with his old, worn out stick, but it still does the job.
12. What were the first digital cameras you used?
I can honestly say I don't remember :).
13. Are you very hands on with the post processing of digital files?
Initially, like most photographers who started with film photography, I didn't agree with image processing. I considered at the time that you are not a photographer if you use image processing. But over time I wanted to create unreal or fantasy scenes. I realised I couldn't do that by working classically. So I started to adapt the classical elements to my needs. By necessity I learned to process images, which developed my skills. I studied a lot, put in many hours and learned from others more skilled than me various techniques to achieve the desired result. Yes, I can say that I am good at digital processing. But no matter how good I am I will always have a lot to learn :).
14. Do you have an all-time favourite camera/lens combination?
No, I don't. Imagination and creativity are more important to me than cameras.
15. Thanks a lot for your time and interest. You can include any other details you want to talk about here?
I don't think I've talked as much about myself as I have here :). I generally let the pictures do the talking for me. And know that each one of them says something about me.