Cosmin Garlesteanu captures humor and humanity on the streets of Bucharest
With each day filled with information and social media content, not many things can catch my eye and make me stop scrolling. However, street photos by Cosmin Gârleșteanu did. This Romanian photographer captures everyday moments in his hometown of Bucharest, often adding a humorous tone to them. They made me not only stop scrolling but often look twice… And then smile. So, I reached out to Cosmin, wanting to know more about his work. In this article, you’ll read more about him and his street photography. Of course – you’ll see his selected photos.
DIYP: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your photography background?
Cosmin: I am 39 years old, and I have been taking photographs since I was 20. I hope to continue doing so. Despite being an economist by profession (I’ve never worked a day in the field), I shifted towards something more creative — radio and TV.
About 20 years ago, I got my first camera, and since then, I haven’t stopped taking pictures. There always seems to be too little time for photography, always something more to discover. Time passed unnoticed, and I discovered aspects of myself I didn’t know existed. Naturally introverted, I opened up to people, and although I never stage images, I’ve gifted prints to the people I photographed. I don’t know what led me to photography, but something urged me to document what I saw every day. I’ve experimented a lot, tried various photographic genres, and settled on street photography.
DIYP: What is your favorite thing about street photography?
Cosmin: The game we play together. The street always offers something, and it depends on me how I respond to the challenge. I love the unrepeatable nature of moments, although, curiously, people have repetitive gestures. Street photography makes me want to discover new things, to be better, and more empathetic.
DIYP: Many of your street photos have a sense of humor about them. What do you think is the role of humor in street photography?
Cosmin: Respect for the subject. It’s a principle I never deviate from. Never. In street photography, there’s a very fine line between laughing at the subject and capturing a funny moment. What role does humor play in street photography? Well, it reminds us not to take things so seriously. And also that, at a certain level, we are still children and can relax our eyebrows every now and then.
DIYP: What advice would you give someone wanting to start street photography?
Cosmin: Take things easy, experiment, and don’t be discouraged by failures. It takes a long time (at least in my case it did) to figure out what works for you, what resonates. Look at tons of images, watch many films, read, imagine things, listen to music, and finally, combine all these things. Last but not least, buy photo books because print completely changes the rules of the game. Let yourself be inspired by other photographers, exchange ideas, but don’t become copies of them.
DIYP: How do you find humor in everyday life? Is there anything you look for precisely when you’re out shooting?
Cosmin: I don’t look for anything specific when I go out to take pictures. Instead, I try to get into a mood that cheers me up. I have a sense of humor and enjoy encountering amusing situations or ones that raise questions.
DIYP: Do you think it’s important to have a good sense of humor to be a successful street photographer?
Cosmin: I think it’s important to be relaxed, to smile when you’re taking pictures, to be direct, and to convey positivity.
DIYP: You’re from Bucharest, Romania. It’s a very diverse, interesting city, just like Romanian culture itself. How does the city’s unique culture and history influence your street photography?
Cosmin: Certainly, Bucharest has something unique. The blend of communist and modern architecture contributes to the diversity of the city. Most of my pictures are taken in Bucharest. I’ve discovered how the city changes before my eyes or, on the contrary, remains still. Taking pictures mainly in the city you live in is both a burden and a blessing.
Although Cosmin was born in Bucharest, he says that he ignored it until a while ago. “I very well may have missed many stories in my carelessness during this time,” he says. “Perhaps because I know I have Bucharest ‘at hand’, as it’s the city where I spend most of my time.” But he’s fixed this injustice and even turned his photos from Bucharest into a book.
DIYP: What are some of the challenges you face when taking street photos?
Cosmin: Some challenges? To be on guard all the time, not to overthink whether to take a photo or not, not to have expectations, and not to get stuck in patterns.
DIYP: Do you have a favorite lens + camera combo? And why is it your choice?
Cosmin: I have only one camera, a Fuji XT-2, and a single lens, 18 mm (27 mm on a crop sensor). Because I shoot with a fairly wide lens, it has forced me to move more, to set aside fears, and to get closer to the subject, to eliminate the fear of being there, in the midst of the action. Sometimes, I feel the need for a zoom, but it quickly passes.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.