Photos have the ability to snap you back to a fixed moment in time.
They place you squarely in the past, leaving you to reminisce on how things used to be. Memories run like an open faucet and you find yourself recalling a simple family outing two years ago; how a faint smell of rain lingered in the air, how your skin rose in goosebumps against gusty winds, how your family’s steps echoed as you all strode through an empty art gallery.
Photos may unlock the past, but it is always the photographer who holds the key to this power. Our current Photographer in Residence, Andreea-Otilia Suiu, brings the finesse and texture of old master paintings to her work. Her skill lies in an ability to capture ‘moments’, turning street photography into stunning still lifes. Andreea, who was born in a small town in Romania, is self-taught, deciding to take up the camera after falling hard for our lively capital when she came here to study.
We are forever hearing people doling out the platitude: ‘live in the moment’, but what about the moments we miss or don’t notice the first-time round? Andreea has the antidote. She succeeds, with eagle-eyed agility, in seizing upon what seems like the minutia of life and turning it into a beautiful scene.
“Every single day I draw inspiration from what comes my way, sometimes even just through reading, and it will somehow add to an aspect of my photography.” She explains. For someone who sees like Andreea, the magnitude of our metropolis is built in textures and colours, a city cast in contrasts. We may only hurridly glance at our surroundings, but Andreea, as though through alchemy, perceives geometric shapes, patterns, fleeting human emotions: the burnished pavement as the sun sets on Westminster, a lustrous sheet of rain rolling off an umbrella. We see a London almost painful in its perfection, colourful, varied and dynamic. It’s the magnitude of the city, her almost-epic representations that cannot help but send a thrilling shiver through you.
Sat quietly, in her vintage-style floral skirt, Andreea recalls a memory from her childhood, a story that ignited the spark within her to eventually make the leap into the world of camera clicks and editing software. “When I was younger, my dad got a digital camera, and he never learnt the theory behind photography or the technical aspects, but he always had an instinctual feel for composition and just being with him all the time and seeing how he framed things I was able to build that instinctual feeling myself,” she says, “so when I finally picked up a camera it was easy for me and it was only after using a camera and starting to read about photography and looking into other peoples work, that I became truly inspired.”
Andreea is always looking for new subjects to photograph and new styles of photography to explore. She’s even toyed with the idea of dabbling in videography, “maybe it’s because I’ve seen a lot of work now, but I feel like some things become too cliché eventually, no matter how beautiful they are” she says, noting that it is a daily challenge to find ways of presenting London that don’t feel done-to-death or repetitive. She doesn’t want to leave us with just another red phonebox or the creamy Chelsea houses so favoured by fashion bloggers.
Previously a science student who studied Chemistry for the last seven years, Andreea’s recent pivot in career has led her to make an exciting switch to working with photography full-time, starting a new job as a Photo Editor. She’d been trying to figure out what she wanted to do and how to make the transition for a long time, “Over the years I started to get more interested in creative subjects and was struggling to find a way to incorporate this and make it a major part of my life.” The new job is the result of much soul-searching: a job where she is finally able to combine her love of art and science. Now isn’t it wonderful when there’s a well-deserved happy ending?
To see more of her work, please visit Andreea’s website here.