Feelings through technology
If something doesn’t make you feel anything, then it’s not worth it.
So, based on this motto, I took the liberty to explore a more philosophical side of photography. Please, bear with me. Thank you.
So let’s go.
My name is Mihai Badoi, and I live in a far, far away galaxy, in Romania, Bucharest. I am 32, and I have taken photos since I was 15 or 16, or even younger. This little Mihai, that I am talking about, was very happy when he won his first camera at 11. A film camera shaped like a Pepsi can. Double joy. I still have it. My father wouldn’t let me use his camera, because I was not an adult. Triple joy. Now I think that I am an adult, but honestly, not many things have changed. I don’t know if it is a good thing or not. Anyway
Formally I am an actor, but informally, I write. I direct. I take photos. So, basically, I don’t really know who I am, and right now, I don’t even care. It is easier this way.
Photography… When I get asked the question, ‘What am I looking for in a photograph?’, I always have a professional answer. I don’t know.
Sometimes I look for the light; sometimes I look for the shape, sometimes the color, but it is never just the light, the shape or the color. It is always something else.
That something, that I don’t know, makes me do photography and everything that I do.
Sometimes I stay in a place for an hour and keep looking. From the distance, I probably look like a weird animal from a weird documentary on Animal Planet.
I don’t want to sound too dramatic, but it is always a struggle. But don’t cry for me yet, it is a good struggle. I guess… I always try to reconcile my pragmatic side with my creative one. The left side with the right side. The real with the imaginary. The reality with the dream. The composition with the emotion. The present with the past. The technology with the feeling. I think that on the bridge that connects these two lies that something. I feel that the same way you can dream the reality, the same way you can have feelings through technology. The little bridge.
Both technology and feelings offer me something. The technology offers me the joy of a little boy with a new toy (even though it is not shaped like a soda can). The feelings took care of my other needs, deeply rooted in me, of an old man. I was always drawn towards stories and feelings.
My chronology of the cameras that I had is a direct representation of these needs. First, I had a bunch of cameras that had the only purpose of teaching me the basics. They were my playground.
The Nikon. When I became more ‘serious’, I started using Nikon, a D3200 and then a D750 (which I still have). I was in my period when I staged my photos, like a play at the theater. With a lot of lights, and a script and a lot of thinking process. That fulfilled my need for stories.
When this process became heavy, literally and metaphorically (D750 has around 2 kilos), and slow, I was looking for something else. I didn’t have the enthusiasm to carry my camera with me everywhere. So here comes on stage my little Olympus.
The Olympus. I’ve always loved the vintage look of the OM. It was like a connection with the old masters. I wanted to have a camera to carry with me everywhere. More than that, a camera that gives me the joy of using it. I have an OM-D E-M5 Mark II with an M.Zuiko 17mm and 12-40mm PRO lenses, but the latter one I rarely use it, because I like everything to be simpler (again, literally and metaphorically). One camera, one lens, one view, all I have to do is just walk and compose.
I received my Olympus at the end of 2020 for Christmas from my girlfriend, and, God bless it, 2021 was the year with the most photos I did in one year. It was the year with the most travels. It was the year when everything became more photogenic. Every walk, every trip became more and more alive. Olympus fulfilled my other need, the need to feel. Olympus gave me the opportunity to not be just a passerby.
I’ve heard many times that photography makes you remember a moment, but I don’t see it that way. My memories never look like my photos. When I have a camera in my hand, I feel a responsibility to find something, but when I don’t have a camera, I don’t even bother to look. When you have a camera in your hand, you force yourself to give shape to those memories. It is like you manipulate what you will remember. Like you became a part of your own life.
For me, from photography to theater, and everything I do, is this instinct to do something, to leave something behind. I have an obsession with time, and what remains at the end of this time. The little comfort I found was to materialize those night thoughts into something palpable, that, maybe… maybe, will live forever.
Time is another important part for me in photography. The connection between the past and the present. From this point of view, photography is a weird art form. No matter how fast or how slow the action is, you capture just one moment. And that unique moment will live on unchanged, whoever looks at it.
Because I like stories, I would like to end with a little experiment about time. I sometimes do it. Again, bear with me. It will not take too long. Hopefully. Take an old photo that you never saw before. Let’s say that in the photo is a party. You observe that it was made in the 1930s. Watch every people in it, the clothes they wear, the surroundings, the small details. Observe who is happy, who is not happy, who tries to look happy. Now imagine that the frame is a door. Enter. As soon as you enter that door, everything starts moving. Like at the moment the photo was taken. Take a walk. Look. Imagine the lives of everybody. Take your time. Find out why the woman is happy. Why is the singer sad. Why the old lady in the back tries to look happy. There is no correct answer. Live a little bit. Now turn around. Look at the photographer. You cannot see his face because it is covered by the big camera. He is the only anonymous person. The more you approach him, the more everything becomes more static. You wake up and have an old photo in your hand. Because of the anonymous one, everyone is not anonymous anymore. Not even the photographer. Especially the photographer.
And that is something.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you Harry Gruyaert, Henri Cartier Bresson, Eugene Smith, Ernst Haas, Andre Kertesz, Bruno Barbey, Saul Leiter and many more that I am forgetting. Thank you cinema, and photography. Thank you to my girlfriend for giving me my Olympus.
Thank you, Olympus Passion and Hugo.
“My name is Mihai Badoi. I have loved visual arts since I was a child. From screen, to photos, to paintings, I am always looking for that thing that breaks through the medium. Always looking for that universal truth. Currently, I am an actor that sometimes directs his own plays. And sometimes neither of these things.”