Gm folks! Today we’ll talk to Claudiu Guraliuc, a Romanian fine art photographer whose baroque inspired series can be easily mistaken as paintings and granted him the Fine Art Photographer of the Year awar in 2020 at the Master Photography Awards Gala in UK.
Claudiu, you have quite a remarkable career, several awards and a breathtaking portfolio. Have you ever worked with anything else besides photography or was it always your goal? Please, tell us a bit about how you became the artist you are today.
I used to work in banking. Started photography as a way to manage a high stress job and it kind of took over my life. In 2013 I quit my branch manager position and started a career in photography.
Did you face any kind of backlash when you started to shoot nudes? Complaints from clients, unfollows on social media or criticism?
No, not really. More so, my baroque inspired nudes are the ones that really “put my name on the map” and brought me the greatest achievements as a photographer.
Your baroque series in a first look can be confused as paintings. The quality of the work is outstanding. What drove you to this project?
Thank you. As an artist, the hardest and most important part is finding your way, that unique, recognisable “personal style”. That involves study, introspection, experimenting and can even be frustrating at times.
For me, the moment I started to look at the work of artists like Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Caravaggio with the hungry eye of the photographer in search of an aesthetic to resonate with, was when I truly felt that I had found “my way”.
What’s your process for creating baroque pieces? What’s your step by step from the initial idea to the final image?
My work is first and foremost an attempt to translate the aesthetic of the Old Masters to the means of expression of digital photography.
This involves not only understanding and deconstructing their techniques but also finding ways to bring their style into the 21st century.
To achieve this, I experiment with digital techniques trying to create images that are both technically proficient and emotionally resonant, images that are not only visually striking, but also deeply evocative and expressive
I am particularly drawn to the way that Old Masters were able to convey a sense of depth and three-dimensionality in their paintings, by the way that classical painting was able to convey that sense of grandeur and drama.
I try to recreate this sense of depth and dimensionality in my own photos, by carefully controlling the lighting and composition of my shots, through the use of dramatic lighting and posing.
But usually, the process starts with creating the concept of the future piece. The story that it will tell and how it will tell it. I paint a mental draft of the image, I try to “see” it in my mind in as many details as possible.
Then, I choose the right model or models, backdrop or location, wardrobe, makeup and hairstyling, lighting, composition, textures and colors, I refine the posing and desired expression. EVERYTHING is predetermined. I don’t like leaving anything to chance, it’s like a puzzle and every piece must fit together according to my vision. That’s why I love working in the studio with artificial lighting. In the studio environment I can control almost everything. And I NEED to control everything. 😊
As a professor of photography, what’s the subject your students have the most difficulty to understand?
Haha, that hard work and study will trump talent 9 times out of 10.
What’s your earliest memory related to art?
Music…classical music. My dad was a musician and a music teacher. It may sound a bit strange but I loved Beethoven as a toddler. I used to “conduct” the 5th symphony around the house with a wooden spoon…
When and how did you learn about NFTs?
2021…I was approached by a group that asked for my permission to sell my work as “NFTs” . I didn’t know or understand much about the subject but I agreed because I thought I didn’t have anything to lose. They sold my first collection, took the lions share of the proceeds and when the bear market hit, disappeared.
But this experience opened my eyes to the potential of the NFT space, to how revolutionary it can be for creatives, to how it can offer unprecedented access to communities and resources. So I decided to stay, learn more and be a part of this. Since then, I met some amazing people and was part of some incredible initiatives. The NFT space is now a part of who I am as an artist.
This summer I even did an online webinar for other photographers about why they should explore the possibility of minting their work and how to do it. Over 100 photographers signed up.
How do you think NFTs are changing the way we experience art?
NFTs are changing the way we experience art, especially by revolutionizing ownership. But there are also other important implications: democratizing access, creating new artforms, providing financial opportunities for artists, and even challenging traditional norms in the art world.
However, the impact of NFTs is still evolving, so I guess it’s still an ongoing discussion…
What’s your ultimate goal as an artist?
Through my work, I hope to bring a sense of classical refinement and sophistication to contemporary photography, while also exploring the timeless themes of beauty, form, and human condition.
I believe that by combining the best of the past with the possibilities of the present, I can create images that are both timeless and modern, and that will continue to inspire and move viewers for generations to come.
Ultimately, my goal is to pay homage to the traditions of the Old Masters while also finding ways to make their aesthetic relevant and accessible to contemporary audiences.
Thank you for this interview, Claudiu. Your pieces keep our eyes glued and it’s clear the amount of hard work you put into each of this images!