One of the reasons I love this ‘job’ as the Editor of 10 Questions is that I get to ‘meet’ (virtually mostly) photographers who are not only very talented, but down to earth. And one of the most down to earth, and Zen, is Radu Benjamin, a Romanian-based destination wedding photographer. Radu believes more in ‘being’ than ‘doing’, slowing down, simply doing less. That doesn’t stop him making amazing images, however. We think his images truly reflect his personality and his beliefs.
1. What does making images mean to you?
I remember three years ago when I was still living on the north-east coast of England, that I met a man, probably in his mid fifties, standing alone at the rocky beach of Tynemouth. After we spent almost an hour together talking and listening to each other's story, he told me that he had to go. I quickly asked him if he would let me take his portrait. And then he took off. By this time he already knew that I was dreaming to become a full-time photographer but I was always too scared to take the risk and actually start to pursue that.
I never asked for his name but before he left he looked me in the eye and told me this "Son, behind every face there's a personal story waiting to be cherished and celebrated. Seeing yourself as others see you takes courage".
It was then when I finally realised what I wanted to do and everything after that was born out of these stories and some of my own personal experiences. That being said, to answer the question, I want to continuously grow as a photographer, to be better at taking photos and I would love to create images that mean a lot to people.
2. What is life to you? What it should be?
Well, first of all life is about people and relationships. And it should always be that way. Also, I believe life is about BEING rather than DOING. I have been reminded recently that I don't have to do to be. Deep down I've spent most of my life "doing" things. Frequently for others, and on the surface quite altruistically. And even when the motives are right, even when we have the best intentions, it is easy to let our actions drive and define us. In a culture that's constantly striving for more I can understand why so many are starting to look for less. Less noise. More peace. Less drama. More real. Deep instead of wide. Doing is easier though because it's passive. For many of us it's all we really know. Being, as simple as it sounds, takes a different kind of work. It takes real intention. It involves getting off the treadmill and looking around. And if I`m honest I'm not really there yet. I still wrestle with my 'doing' defining me more than my 'being', and yet I know that there`s no arrival on this journey. And that in itself is one of the beautiful parts of life. We never truly arrive in this life, and right now I'm so grateful that we aren't on this journey alone.
3. There are a lot of professions out there - why be a photographer?
The short answer: it was the only 'instrument' that helped me to connect better with people as I'm quite introverted and always had a difficulty to get out of my comfort zone when it came to relationships.
4. How much is your family an influence on the way you view life, see things?
Family is everything and I won the lottery with mine. I'm a better person because of them.
5. Do you have a “second profession” or passion?
Nope. This is my only profession. Another passion would be mountain hiking. And oh yes, reading; always love escaping in books.
6. What are you reading now?
Finished reading Patrick Modiano, Chien de Printemps while crossing the ocean on Monday.
7. Do you shoot with your left or right eye?
Right eye when not on the live view mode.
8. Are there any unseen experimental images in your attic you’d like to show us now?
Ah, haven't done anything experimental lately.
9. Who do you respect - in photography or elsewhere?
There are so many good photographers out there, so many people pushing the limits, trying new things. My answer to this question is very simple. I am inspired by the people who have taken the time to reach their hand down and lift me up. You could be the most successful person in the world, but if you aren't sharing the spotlight with those around you, than what is the point? I have met so many people in my life that are successful, and the ones I remember the most are those who invested their time in me.
10. If you were to start all over again, is there anything you would do differently? Why?
As Charlie Peacock would say "Don't try harder. Try less". I've been having so many great conversations with friends lately about the need to simplify, to find balance, to get into a place of peace and rest. Someone told me the other day it probably starts with quitting some stuff. I think that`s some good advice. Now the trick is finding that first thing to axe.
Bonus Q: Do you think the gear you use affects the way you photograph? Why?
Sure, an expensive camera would take a beautiful photo, but does a lower resolution photo take away its beauty if you enjoy it? Not really.