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Awkward energy in Barcelona

A new photographer presents a collection of direct, unpretentious images of his home

Photographer Raul Bonatiu, a Transylvania-born Barcelona resident, likes to party. Just look at his pictures. Wonderfully direct and unpretentious, his new photo series Loving Backwards is nothing short of eye candy. Capturing friends, special moments, awkward moments and often the surreal, Bonatiu’s eye finds the nitty-gritty details we often overlook. Of his attitude towards the medium in crisis, he tells me, “I photograph my friends when we go out to party, but I'm not interested in documenting ourselves. Instead, I seek out situations placed between reality and the 'ethereal'.” Bonatiu shares with us this exclusive series and tells us a bit more about his photographic style and his party requisites.

Dazed Digital: How did you wind up in Barcelona?
Raul Bonatiu: I’m from Romania. I was born and lived until the age of 22 in Oradea, Transylvania. After finishing military service I moved to Barcelona, Spain where my family was living. There wasn’t much to do in my home town, me and my friends used to hang out during the week listening to electronic music, talking nonsense, just waiting for the weekend to go party. I always thought of going elsewhere to pursue new opportunities and coming to Barcelona has been a good and inspiring choice that came at the right moment. 

DD: For how long have you been taking pictures?
RB: Five years ago I visited an exhibition called ‘Magnum: 10 Sequences. How cinema inspires photographers’ and saw the pictures of Harry Gruyaert inspired by Antonioni’s cinematography. I was instantly hooked by the atmosphere in those pictures so I bought a camera next day and I start taking photographs. In the beginning I did some basic courses and workshops but I would say I’m mainly self-taught.

DD: What kind of cameras do you use?
RB: I use a Panasonic micro 4/3 digital and 2 compact film cameras from Canon.

DD: What do you look for when you take a photograph?
RB: I try to be aware of what is happening around me. Sometimes things happen and sometimes not. When ‘nothing happens’, I tell myself that it would be a good moment  to photograph and experiment with different angles, frames and subject matter trusting that the camera can ‘see’ something I do not. 

DD: How does living in Barcelona inspire you?
RB: There are many Barcelonas within the town. It’s a mixture of migrants from inside and outside Spain, Catalonians, Barcelonies and tourists, a beautiful circus. I’m inspired by people of all kinds, young people, old people, kids, the way they look and how they move, people seeking protagonism as well as people who do not pretend to be more than they are.

DD: Many of your photos have an intense energy and a touch of melancholy. Would you say that's an accurate description?
RB: Most of my photographs are personal experiences but also I wander around photographing anything. Parts of reality are juxtaposed I guess with a sense of melancholy I have as a result of leaving my country and the faded memories I have: of family, friends and places. 

DD: What are three things that make a good photograph for you?
RB: This is a difficult question. I believe there must be a union between form, content and subject metter but if an image awakens a pleasant feeling, if it transports me to a new place and makes me dream for a moment that's enough for me. And the photograph it doesn’t has to be beautiful to do that.

DD: What music are you listening to these days?
RB: My Bloody Valentine – MVB.

DD: What makes a great party for you?
RB: Friends, beers, good music to dance to and having no expectations.