A State of Nude with Suzana Dordea by Dilshad C
Suzana, an EyeEm Ambassador, is an artist living in Bucharest, Romania. She grew up fascinated by watching her father process photos in his darkroom. Since then she has never stopped looking at the world in a different way. While she experiments photographing different genres, her main body of work is based on a project which she calls A State of Nude. She has recently taken up mobile photography and she is involved in some very interesting projects that will hopefully come to fruition this summer. Her photographs have a resemblance to Natacha Merritt’s Digital Diaries, and I am sure that Suzana is one to watch, for she will go far! This interview is dedicated to the loving memory of her mother, who passed away when she was still a child.
D: Dilshad S: Suzana
Memories of You
D: So tell me a little bit about you? Where are you from?
S: My name is Suzana Dordea and I was born on a summer day, sometime in the ’80s on the shores of the Black Sea, in Constanta, Romania. Now I work and live in Bucharest, the capital of my country. Since I was a little girl, I was attracted to how my father processed photographs in a very small room, with red light, but photography became my true passion only 4 years ago, when I started taking it seriously, although I always enjoyed taking photos.
Who Are You?
D: Do you have any memories from your childhood that are close to your heart?
S: I used to enjoy simple things, just as I do now, and, of course, I remember when my father and my godfather used to take photos of us with an old film camera ; they had also managed to set up a dark room in the back of our house in a small workhouse, where they used to develop the photos. I think I was around 5 or maximum 6 when I fell in love with all that process of developing pictures in a small room, filled with red light. It was very captivating for a child to see how pictures took shape in there. Although my father tried to explain to me what was happening, I was just 5 years old and I couldn’t really understand. I simply loved to be in there all the time watching while they used to develop. For me, it was something magical that really captivated me . It was stunning how those photos took shape in that solution that looked like water.
S: While I was growing up, from my high school years and onward, I used to take photos of everything. At first, it was more like a game. I loved watching people, but the more I played with it, the more I realized how important photography had become for me. It wasn’t just a passion , but it was also some sort of therapy after my mom passed away. Photography helped me to get over my mom’s loss . I still think that it was photography that really helped to take my mind off of the pain that was in my heart . Actually, yesterday it was 9 years since she passed away. So I will dedicate this to her.
Visions Of Myself
D: You said that you were born in Constanta, what made you move to Bucharest?
S: My whole life has been like that ! I had to start all over again and again and again. I think I have got used to that, but it has never been easy . One needs to have a bit of craziness to start from scratch all over again, but to me it’s also a challenge and I love challenges . I loved my native city, but I decided to leave when I realized I did not have so many opportunities there. Being a touristic city it’s only active during the summer, but in the other seasons it’s like a ghost town. On a positive note the city offers many photographic opportunities too!
Time To Divide
D: Do you always keep a camera with you and which one is your favorite?
S: I am happy whenever I have a camera with me; it feels as if I am a complete person. Back then, I had a Canon A200 – this was my first camera . I don’t have a preference, in my opinion one can shoot with anything. To me, it could be just a wooden box with a small hole in it, for I think it’s the eye behind the camera that really matters. The best camera is the one you know how to use well and the one you have with you. I believe that it’s the photographer who makes the photographs in the end, not the camera! After the Canon I had a Benq C, and after that a friend of mine gave me another Canon as a gift. I still use it and I am so very grateful to him for everything he has done for me . Now I use an Olympus PEN and my iPhone, which I love, the Olympus was a gift from another friend of mine. I remember, once, someone offering me to exchange it for a cumbersome professional DSLR, but I refused it because it would be a pain for me to carry it around. I really cannot imagine carrying a huge camera at all time with me. Now I am enjoying my iPhone 4, but I am planning to buy a 5, as I kind of have started to use it more often than my normal one. It is very handy and because it’s my phone, I always carry it around with me.
D: Do you have a favorite subject to photograph?
S: I really love photographing anything, actually! Places, people , landscapes, however, now I concentrate more on the female body and the discovery of myself in a state of nude.
Requiem For A Dream
D: What do you mean by a State of Nude?
S: The whole concept about being in a State of Nude is that “Nude” to me means more than just a naked body. It is what the photo evokes to the viewers, it should stir emotions , and it does not have to be literally a nude photo, but it can also be just a portrait. I am naked in front of the camera; I have laid my naked soul for you to see. The aim is to remain true to myself.
D: Tell me more, when was the first time you took a self-photo?
S: I took my very first self-portrait in 2006 . It was October, I think. I remember I was alone at home and it all started with me playing with the camera. I had some earrings that were long and looked nice when they were moving, I loved the reflection of those, so I decided to give it a go. It was really difficult. You don’t get to see the framing or where the focus would end, but I am a creative person and that day I really wanted to come out with something. I think I have a good eye for composition, as I have never taken any photography classes nor I have been to any art school either. It’s all about trying to look deeply and use your imagination, keep an open eye and always try to look inventively.
S: You see, I consider myself more of an amateur photographer, nothing more. I am interested in a naturalistic and honest representation of what I photograph. I started with myself, because it was a great way to get to know myself better and to start rediscovering myself through my own eyes . Also, one of the main reasons was to overcome my shyness, to step out of my shell .
Letter To Myself
D: Has there been anyone in particular that has influenced how you look at the world and how you take photos? Has this person helped you to grow?
S: Yes. Back in 2009 I started following Cristian Crisbasan’s work. He is the best photographer of nude photography in Romania and one of the greatest photographers in the entire world. His work has been published in Taschen and in many other places. I so admire his work, so I wrote him, asking him an opinion on my photography. He actually wrote me back and encouraged me to keep up with what I was doing and never to give up photography. I was inspired by his reply and from that point onwards I knew that this was what I really wanted to do. He helped me to find my voice, and discover myself. We became great friends, and I also ended up being his muse for an exhibition of photos that he took of me called A-Muse. During all these years he has taught me so much and he is a never-ending inspiration.
State Of Dreaming
D: It is wonderful to find people like this, not only they are a true source of inspiration, but they challenge you and make you grow! You say that Cristian helped you to find your voice, so what is it that you are trying to express with your photography?
S: I think, as Diane Arbus used to say, that photography is a very perverse way of expression. Since last year, I started to document and explore my body, my sexuality, and photographing other models for a project called A State of Nude, as a form of saying who we really are. This is why I believe that the nude, as a means to expose one’s soul, is the most complete, vivid, free, open and honest form of human portraiture – the ultimate expression of body and spirit. My work is about the freedom to express the way I see the human being, day by day, in its natural state. I want to be true to myself, I want to capture the inner self, that little something that makes us all unique . Hence, being my own model works the best so far. That, however, doesn’t mean that I don’t photograph other models, on the contrary, but instead of having someone to photograph me, and because I know myself better than anybody else I feel comfortable to pose for myself freely without the fear of being judged . I would love my photographs to be a sincere expression of the female body. These should convey, simplicity, honesty, kindness, sensuality, and femininity; all these simple things. I hate hypocrisy. To me, it’s not about the technique, it’s about what the image transmits to the viewers. Also, with mobile photography and social media’s immediacy I can connect with my viewers so easily today, and can instantly receive feedback and see if those emotions that I trying to inspire are felt by my viewers!
D: That’s a very good point! You are EyeEm Ambassador. What do you think about the way they censure photos of nude and also can you tell me how you became an Ambassador?
S: There is a thin line, I think; this is only in our heads to decide what is art and what is not. To me it is all about the limits and the blocks that we have in our heads! I want to be different and I want to look at the world in a more open way. I cannot decide for the creators of IG or EyeEm, but I think there should be more open-mindedness coming from the users of these social platforms as they are the ones who flag and report photos.
S: In regards to how I become an Ambassador for EyeEm, well I was a fan of Instagram but when they came up with those privacy policies I wanted to delete my account . That was when, similarly to the other users, I felt betrayed by them. So I tried PicYou, but I did not like it one bit and wasn’t sure what to do. By that time I came across EyeEm and I fell in love with it from the very first time I used it. I, actually, became addicted to it straightaway to EyeEm. So I started learning more about what they did and at one point I noticed that there were some members who had an EyeEm ambassador logo and wondered what that was all about? And as I am a very curious person by nature I went to their blog to find out more. That is how I discovered that they were looking for new ambassadors, I filled in the online form , but unfortunately I received a message back saying that for the time being all the positions were filled, but that as soon as they will restart the process they will let me know about this. A few days later I received an email from EyeEm’s representative, Stephanie, saying that they were looking for ambassadors again and if I was still interested then we could go forward. She asked me a few questions and then a few days later I got the pleasant news that I had become the proud ambassador for Bucharest, funnily enough there are no other ambassadors in Romania, this would make me the only one for Romania. I will be organizing meet ups and I am thinking about a great exhibition so keep watching this space!
D: Is there anything else that you would like to add? Maybe on mobile photography?
S: Mobile photography is something that I have just discovered along with EyeEm. Since this discovery I barely use my digital camera and Hipstamatic is my favorite app for taking photos on my mobile! I think that taking photos with my mobile is even harder, and I am always challenged to better myself. This is mostly because it’s a complete different way of shooting and composing, but as I have already said I love challenges and it is not about what camera you have, but how you look at the world. I love all the apps and the possibilities that my iPhone offers me. I use camera+ and Hipstamatic mostly for taking the photos, and I edit these in Snapseed, Kitcam, Swankolab, Dramatic b&w, Blender or iColorama. I have become an addicted app buyer and I keep looking also for gadgets like lenses and tripods and battery chargers too, so that I can have always my phone ready to take a photo whenever I feel the need to do so.
Thank you very much for your time! You can Find Suzana here: