Going through nearly 600 applicants for the It’s Nice That Graduates was a long process, and in it we saw countless photography submissions. To come across a portfolio like Portsmouth graduate Alecsandra’s was truly special, as her website was utterly brimming with fascinating, in-depth projects that stood out as being truly well-researched, full of passion and rather unique. Her love of storytelling led her to focus on politics, family, tradition and emotion, making her body of work alive with folklore and wisdom. How great is it when someone’s work truly opens your eyes to something you had previously never encountered? Here she is on her degree, her passion for photography, and her future.
Why or who or what made you go to art school
The Waldorf School, where I went to from the first grade until the end of high school, had a great influence on my life. In an institution recognised for their understanding of beauty as well as for their original approach to a creative development of children’s minds, the school’s curriculum and teachers help the students shape their own concepts about life. Here I have studied the classical philology disciplines combined with special courses in art: eurhythmy, painting and music. Consequently, this school had a big influence on my formation as an art lover offering the opportunity to discover some of the great artists of the world and find my passion of photography.
Being in love with photography, I wanted to develop my passion by applying in England for a BA in Photography at the University of Portsmouth. The undergraduate degree has helped me to improve and develop my skills, allowing me to start being part of a professional world. It was my call to go there, and my parents had always encouraged me in my decisions.
Tell us about your best project
I believe the best project is the one challenges and takes you to a new level in your practice. My best project so far is my graduate project – one of the images from this work was the winning image in the youth category at the Sony Awards 2013 and winning me the title of Youth Photographer of the Year. As the work was unfinished, I felt that I wanted to develop it further. Therefore, last winter I started to travel around Romania and document the winter traditions and found the character in the image, thus finding more insights of those traditions. I was really pleased by how smoothly my project developed and how my portraiture and documentary practice came together and took me to a new level in my photography.
Tell us about your worst project
It was considered a great project for my first year, being rewarded with a First, but in my opinion I did not have enough abilities and skills to take it to the level I wanted. The brief was called “Autobiographical Practices” and my chosen idea was playing with the fact that human being has different identities and always he tries to hide himself. So I used the concept of having different identities in different moments in our lives. To express my idea clearly, I used different masks and my own body.
I do not consider it such a bad project, but maybe a weak one. It was a good idea, but the lack of editing skills narrowed my project down from taking it to a different level. Using myself in images was an interesting experience, always being inspired by Cindy Sherman, but sometimes can be really hard and challenging.
If you could show one person your portfolio, who would it be and why?
It is one of dreams to meet Steve McCurry and talk to him. And if I could have the opportunity to show my own work, it would be the best experience in my life. He is my muse; he inspires me with his images and the stories behind them. He inspires me with his way of approaching people. I think his advices would be crucial for my practice.
What was the best moment of your three years at uni (extra curricular included)?
I have had many best moments during my three years at university, but the one that have changed my life and my connection with photography, is winning the Sony Awards, Youth Category in 2013. This moment has given me the confidence that all the sacrifices of choosing photography to be part of my future career, is the best decisions.
In addition, the opportunity of winning the Sony Awards leaded me to challenge myself and start my final degree project, documenting the winter traditions in Romania. It made me think further and take my photography to a new level.
A lot is changing – would you recommend art school to someone who is considering going?
Yes, but I would recommend it to someone with a good financial background. Being an art student can be really expensive, especially with the new tuition fees. Sometimes, the projects cannot continue because of the lack of funding. Also, I would recommend to someone who is really passionate about his or her choice and who keep feeding their talent. In my opinion art schools are for really ambitious people, because there is a possibility to fail and there is a hard way to go back.
In addition, some people say that you can do art without a degree, however I believe choosing a degree is a great opportunity, as it gives you the right environment and people to work with. Being surrounded by people doing the same thing as you can push you further and motive you to improve your skills. It can lead to a competition with your classmates or collaboration, thus giving you the chance to further develop for your future career.
Finally, if your dreams come true, where will you be in a year’s time?
I would like to start doing an internship as a picture editor for a publication such as The Telegraph, The Guardian or National Geographic and at the same time I would like to travel in the spare time, to get inspired by different cultures and traditions.
Supported by Represent
We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2014 will once again be supported by Represent Recruitment. The graphic design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduate scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2014.