Sometimes you have to let go. We visited this Roma family in Sofia, Bulgaria and were rejected. No photos. Absolutely no. We still had a chat we as we were genuinely interested and started a conversation. Next day we came back and continued. After a while I noticed that one of the guys kept looking at my camera. I got up, put it around his neck and asked him to take pictures of me if he wanted. Not at all… he went straight to his family members and had a great time shooting them. That’s him:
Here are a few of his images. Without hesitation I have to admit I wouldn’t have been able to take these intimate and beautiful portraits myself. All of a sudden the allegedly dangerous ex-con transformed into a documentary photographer. Next day he actually asked me in a very nice but also insisting way to buy him a USB stick and give him a copy of all files – he certainly got it.
The most fascinating part of that experience would still wait for me. At some point they all liked the experience and put on some music. A few minutes later we all started dancing on the street. One can imagine the slightly irritated people passing us… Don’t want to miss a minute!
Concordia took me to some of the most deprived areas around Sofia to show me the appalling conditions the Roma have to live in. At first glance it’s indeed not very intriguing but after a while one realises that not everything we consider good or bad might be the case for someone else. I saw such a strong and beautiful community. Certainly the government should do a lot more to improve their status and accept their way of living. But for me personally it was a fantastic experience. Again, the positive, the emotional and also the fun draw my attention and not so much the circumstances.
When these guys came along with their horse cart I was expecting a lot but certainly not one of the funniest pictures I have ever taken. It happened so quick and in hindsight I am still wondering who’s got the better teeth?
Roma Community Sofia
I am really proud that I was able to shoot a picture that actually did have an influence. This picture inspired one of my clients in Romania. Struck by the young athlete he started comparing the lives of the children looked after by Concordia and his own 12 year old son who is one of the most successful swimmers in Europe at the moment. Currently plans are being discussed to invite the children to take part in free swim training. Also there are plans to support the various houses with electricity – the core business of the client is solar energy. Fingers crossed that both projects will go ahead.