Felicia Simion’s compelling images took the online photography community by storm when she was only 13 years old, and 9 years later we couldn’t help but surrender to their peculiar charm. !Kokoška caught up with her, and discussed inspiration, beauty and curiosity.
Photographer Felicia Simion from Romania creates stunning visual narratives that playfully touch on childhood, dreams and everyday examples of beauty and magic. After having her photographs exhibited in both group and solo exhibitions all around Europe and the United States, she came by Belgrade to show her work in Bartcelona Art Gallery, where she met !Kokoška. Seemingly shy, the 22-year-old is reflective and thoughtful when speaking about her work, offering invaluable insights into her thought process and creative aspirations.
K!K: Hello Felicia, thank you for speaking with KulturKokoška. While going through your online galleries, I noticed that some of your work dates back to as early as when you were only 13 years of age. How and when exactly did you become interested in photography?
Hello, it is my pleasure.
I was a 13-year-old kid, a bit of a nerd with varied interests – painting, guitar, literature, Maths. A friend introduced me to deviantART, an all-art community where photography was gaining popularity among young people like me. I saw what they were doing, and it sparked my curiosity. So, on my birthday I received my first camera from my parents – a Canon 400D that would become my best non-human companion in the years that followed.
K!K: Do you have any formal training in photography or are you self-taught? What has proven to be the best and most efficient approach to learning and improving your skills?
I have always preferred self-teaching – I practiced photography and learned post-processing skills as much as I could on my own – and I ended up finishing an art high school and then an art university. Although in both cases I was also introduced to other forms of art, such as drawing, design, installation, video art etc, my main interest remained photography and (one day) film.
K!K: What inspires you?
I am inspired by daily images I see in real life, captured inside my mind while walking to the store, waiting at the subway, having a coffee somewhere. I am also inspired by plants, sunsets, the sea, the moon and all things beautiful.
K!K: Talking about inspiration: do you have a favorite photographer or a role model? Who are some artists and photographers you admire?
To be honest, I couldn’t name just one artist, so I will share a few of them: Julia Margaret Cameron, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Steve McCurry, Deborah Turbeville, Joel Meyerowitz, Sebastiao Salgado, Romina Ressia, and the list may go on and on…
K!K: What does your creative process look like? When coming up with ideas for photos do you sketch out your concepts and plan your shoots in detail or are you more spontaneous? Also, how important is Photoshop and post-processing to your work?
Most of the time I have some fixed ideas that I would like to approach during a future shoot, but many of the best photos that I will end up with are spontaneous. Some require more thinking in advance, while with others I just go with the flow. For some I use Photoshop only in terms of basic adjustments (curves, contrast, b&w toning), while others that envision more surreal concepts require a few hours of post-processing.
K!K: How do you define your style? Is there an overall message or feeling you would like it to convey?
I think style will come to me one day as opposed to me having to chase it. But my work often contains positive messages, invites people to dream and reminds them of childhood or things left behind somewhere in the subconscious. I wish to focus on the good, the beauty of it all, as opposed to delivering a critical and violent approach towards life.
K!K: Since you often dabble in street photography, do you have some interesting anecdotes or stories behind certain photos to tell us? Have you ever had any unpleasant situations?
Sometimes when I’m in the countryside in Romania and I spot something on the road, like a group of kids with a strong personality and expression, I try to approach them, take photos and then see their reaction – usually I end up with them checking the camera and taking pictures of me. One time in Vienna, I was having lunch when I saw a little girl on the alley next to the restaurant. She had a tiny suitcase and walked around very sure of herself and drank from her bottle of milk like no one could stand in her way.
Something unpleasant would be the times when I try to photograph a view that perhaps has no people in it, but then a pedestrian strikes and shouts at me believing I took pictures of him/her. But happily that hasn’t happened more than two times.
K!K: Do you have a favorite photo you’ve ever taken? What’s the story behind it?
Probably my favorite photo is one that’s inside my mind and bears a lot of emotion with it, but has yet to be materialized.
K!K: Would you share what you are currently working on, and what your future goals, plans and aspirations are when it comes to photography?
Right now I have a few collaborations with some talented artists here in Romania from the music and design industry, while I try to focus on personal projects as well. This autumn I am starting a master’s degree in Ethnology, a subject I hope to develop in the future years along with a documentary project of rural communities in Romania.
Now a few quick questions:
K!K: What is your proudest moment as a photographer?
I believe a moment of great intensity was my first solo exhibition, which took place in London in September 2014. But there have been many other times that made me feel not proud necessarily, but as if I knew what I wanted and even though I didn’t quite see the goal of it all, the path was there for me to follow.
K!K: What is in your gear bag?
A Canon 7D with two lenses – most probably 50mm f/1.8 and 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6, and a Samsung NX mini camera for collecting memories.
K!K: What do you like to do when you’re not taking photos?
I like to read, sing, cook, write, walk, edit pictures and most of all enjoy the spare time with my husband and family and our orange cat named Cat.
K!K: Do you have any advice for fellow photographers?
Whatever you want to create, be yourself. Don’t try to follow the “trends” in art just for the sake of it. Get there naturally, with patience and joy in everything you do.
K!K: Thank you.
Photos used with author’s permission.