A Photo Folio is excited to launch a series of interviews to showcase some of our clients, their work and what inspires them to be the best in the business.
Our first interview is with photographer Andrei Duman who specializes in landscape, aerial and travel photography. Andrei is originally from Romania and now resides in LA after stops in London and New York.
You have images on your site from every corner of the world. How many countries have you visited to shoot? I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to over 70 countries. I have always been an open-minded traveler and am fascinated with going to locations that are not your “go to” places. The ones off the beaten path were and still are the ones that intrigue me as they are still unspoiled. The harder it is to get to the location the more determined I am. The culture is still relatively untouched and you really do get to feel the place. In my younger days I was a semi-professional tennis player and had to travel to tournaments in far off lands to get points such as Brunei, Syria and Tunisia.
What is the most unique place you have ever shot? I have a few but if I had to name one it has to be Easter Island. I fell in love with the place as soon as I touched it. The history, the culture and amazing feats of engineering to not only carve the statues but the way they moved the stones from the one quarry on the island all the way to the coast is nothing short of breathtaking. What enhanced the experience was the fact that we were pretty much alone and felt we had the whole island to ourselves. Really had the time to take it all in and prepare the right shot.
Of all the places you have been to shoot, what it the one location you would love to go back and visit/shoot? That would have to be Iceland. It is my favorite country that I have ever been to. It is a land of amazing contrasts from the black stark beaches to the majestic glaciers and bewildering waterfalls. It is also one of the most challenging places that I have ever shot in because of the constant changing weather. I went during the summer and also returned to shoot the ice caves, both experiences bringing their own unique complications. It was the first time that I used crampons to abseil down a huge glacier, cross a raging river on a ladder, crawl on my belly through an ice cave, all with my camera equipment in tow. The results were worth it all.
What is one place you have been to shoot where the photographs simply couldn’t do the location justice? That’s a hard one to answer. I would have to say Namibia in some ways, especially in the Namib desert simply because it was so difficult to get the scale of the dunes. I felt that even with my widest lens, I could not present them in the light that they deserved.
What destinations are on your photography bucket list? My bucket list is ever growing, with Madagascar, Bhutan, Antarctica, New Zealand, Galapagos and Maldives on the soon to do list.
What is the hardest part about shooting on location? With all the research I do when planning a trip to know the best time of day to shoot and how to get access to certain locations, it is only when you physically are there that many other obstacles arise. You realize that the sun does not follow the path you planned and does not shine correctly when shooting in a building (like my experience in the Namibia ghost town), that you cannot get access to the location unless you bribe the locals or that the vegetation has grown a lot more than you imagined (Cambodia Temple) and that when shooting animals, they do not play by your rules and do whatever they want (Gorilla Hike in Uganda).
Can you go someplace exotic and leave the camera behind? I do struggle with this one. I find it very hard because no matter where I go I am always on the lookout for that great shot, so leaving all my camera gear behind is tough. I do think that it is important to walk away from your camera from time to time. It gives you the time to think a little and take in some of the sights that one normally misses when behind the lens.
If you didn’t have to pay the bills with photography, what would you love to shoot? Exactly what I am shooting now. Remote locations, unique landscapes, fascinating tribes
You have spectacular images from Africa. What are the challenges of shooting in that environment? First of all it is hard to get your equipment there as they use small planes to get around the countries and they do not allow my big bag at the back of the plane. Also bringing my big tripod is a challenge and they will ask you to check it in. I never do and I try my hardest to persuade them otherwise. When you do make it, I did not find it too much of an issue to shoot in the Masai or Serengeti for example. The light is good most of the time, depending on time of year, it does not rain too much and overall, the biggest issue is the unpredictability of the animal behavior. We were driving around in Etosha National Park in Namibia every day for 2 days and did not see any big cats.
You have some amazing aerial images. Are these shot from a drone or helicopter? I shoot mostly from helicopters with the doors off after lengthy discussions with the pilot about the location as well as the flight path/panning to gain the optimal angle for the shots.
How will drones change aerial photography? I think drones will change aerial photography a great deal. I am in the process of working with a drone company to start incorporating drones in my work. First of all it is a safety issue, so reducing chance of harm to yourself and it allows you to perform maneuvers that will be difficult with a helicopter. You can also get more interesting shots and get closer to certain subjects so I am sure that as technology progresses, we will be seeing some new angles and types of photos. Being aware of the negative aspect of using drones, such as privacy and locations where you cannot fly are important lessons to learn.
You are opening a new gallery on September 17th in Los Angeles. What is the most daunting part of opening a new gallery?Everything! The build, the spiraling costs, the chance of total failure, will people buy, what will people think of the work? There are a lot of things that can go wrong, but also a lot of things that can go right and that’s what motivates me to keep going. All I am trying to achieve is a place where people can enjoy good quality, true to the subject photography.
What part of the gallery business are you most excited about? I think it is meeting new people and making connections. I am looking forward to discussing my work with regular customers and other photographers alike and learning more about their experiences and travels. I want the gallery to be a place where people can come in and learn more about photography and it is my intention to provide classes to support that. I was recently made an Ambassador to Hoya Filters and Icebreakers Clothing and have a few other companies that will be sponsoring the gallery which is also exciting for me. Continuing to build those relationships is what excites me from a business perspective. I am also in the process of partnering up with St Jude (an organization that is very close to my heart) and I will be donating a certain % of my sales for the good cause that they do on an everyday basis.
The Andre Duman Gallery
6316 North Topanga Blvd Suite 1170
Woodland Hills, CA.
Why did you choose a Photo Folio for your website? I chose PhotoFolio as my main site because it provided me the flexibility that other websites could not. It allows me to make marginal changes that help me create the look and feel that I am seeking in my site. The control is given to me and I am not pigeonholed into only a few adjustments. The images are crisp, move effortlessly and I get a great deal of compliments on its aesthetic. It is for this reason that I am also using aPhotofolio for the gallery page. It also helps a great deal that the support team is very helpful, efficient and quick to answer all queries I have.