Val Vesa is a very passionate photographer from Romania, but he wouldn’t necessarily call himself a photographer. Taking photos and telling stories with photography is his favorite pass time.
Back in the day, in communist times, taking photos was much prohibited, because you had to be approved by the party to become a photographer. If you were attending an event, you’re there to enjoy and watch, without taking photos, unless you have a special license or approval.
But right after communism fell in 1990, there were many German, Italian, and English people coming into the country trying to help and bring food and supplies, and one of these groups had a photographer with them, and he gave Val a Japanese camera, a Mamiya. At that time Val was just 14 years old, and he was the translator between them and the Germans, so that guy wanted to pay him for his translating services. Thus this camera was the gift he gave to Val, not knowing that it’ll be his gift for life.
How Val Discovered His Calling
Clearly Val had no prior photography education, so all his learnings were from trial and error, and it essentially just got into his soul, and he just loved it.
“When I need a moment to get out of my daily routine… I just walk into the forest, take my camera with me and you lose me for hours.”
Val enjoys street photography and portrait photography; kids in the park, women sitting on the bench, something very in the moment. He approaches them and asks for their approval if he can use their photos, and they really appreciate that, and rarely does he get a rejection.
His favorite photo to this day, is one he took in Sri Lanka. He was on the beach in the Indian Ocean, and there was this 9 year old kid who was just playing into the waves at sunset. Then at one moment, the kid turns and looks at the setting sun, and says wow, in the most genuine and aweing way. After which his father finally finds him and takes him home.
Val told the father that he took the shot of his son enjoying that sensational sunset moment.
This photo was then printed and sent to the family that of which hangs it in the house.
Val's Focus on Educating Teenagers
Val says that it takes a lot of exercise to develop that character. Asking somebody if you can take their photo is not enough. You should have on you previous portraits you’ve taken, in order to develop your credibility.
Val’s wife was an important part of his growth as a photographer. Her career in psychology has helped him understand other people’s feelings and reactions, which in turn helped him work on his approach to people, and his communication skills.
Val is now focusing on photography and educating teenagers, as he has two children of his own at the ages of 13 and 15.
His wife was an important part of his growth as a photographer, and in his current education path. Her career in psychology has helped him understand other people’s feelings and reactions, which in turn helped him work on his approach to people, and his communication skills.
It allows him the have the specific wording when talking to teenagers; especially that she is a mom and knows so much how to deal with and talk to kids.
“With photography, we can help people have their stories told, or seen, or listened, and really make it visible.”
We leave you with this inspiring advice from Val: To make the story stronger, and let people hear that story, never think of the rules of framing and lighting.
What’s most important is that you have to think before pressing that shutter button, and what you want to send away with that shot, and what you want people to understand beyond what they see.
For Val, when he posts something on Instagram, his photos always have long detailed captions, because people need to understand the stories behind each photo, just like the story he told us about that boy watching the sunset.
“Telling great stories is a combination of you telling it and somebody listening or understanding. Because if you just tell a story and there’s nobody there to listen, and understand, it’s just gona be a very good story that nobody knows about. It’s like that tree falling in the middle of the forest that nobody saw or heard, so it didn’t actually fall.”
To know more about Val’s nice life story, photography and educating teenagers, hear more from his parental advice, and just get introduced to this funny, inspiring, and humanitarian person, listen to the above podcast.
Written by Angela Zoghbi