Interview with Rares Besliu from Romania

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Rares Besliu

Having once been an entrepreneur, Rares Besliu transformed into an artist a few years ago, resulting in a markedly better life. While an interest in photography existed since childhood, it wasn't until 2015 that he began pursuing it seriously.

Interview With The 2023 London Photography Awards Winner – Rares Besliu

1Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?

Formerly an entrepreneur, I turned into an artist a few years ago and my life totally changed for the better. Three words that describe me: impatient, curious, ambitious.

Photography has been one of my interests since childhood but I've only started to take it seriously in 2015. That's when I ditched "auto mode" which turned me into the "pro" in my group of people we spent our holidays with. The pandemic made me explore the beauty of Romania, it’s amazing landscapes and mostly the rich fauna.

2Where did you study photography?
I first studied Photography in a school in Bucharest but I wanted more, so I switched to one in New York where I graduated. That's where I understood that photography is way beyond learning the camera manual by heart. If I wanted to be really good, I had to pick up a certain manner that had its own secrets and a particular kind of magic. Most of all, this pushed me to be myself, to personalize every image and leave all the clichés behind.
3Do you remember your first shot? What was it?

Right before getting serious about photography I did a series of sunsets and sunrises atop Ciucas, a spectacular massif in Romania. Back then, I was mainly interested in landscapes. It was either chance or my imagination that made me "see" the shape of a Sphinx in the snow-covered rock beautifully lit by the sun.

I baptised it the Ciucas Sphinx and it was a breakthrough for me: National Geographic published an article about this striking image. Since then, I have started to envelop every picture I took into a story with a plot, characters and a bit of magic.

4What equipment do you use?
I use the mirrorless system with the highest resolution sensor and, most of the time, 600mm f/4 and 400mm f/2.8.
5What do you hope to achieve?

Currently, I am working on the Project and it's amazing how photography brought me here and created this unique opportunity. North of Words (NoW) is a photographic journey aiming to educate Romanians (and not only them) about the effects of climate change. It involves an artistic chronicle of several Arctic regions, reaching as close as possible to the North Pole.

I will first travel to Svalbard Archipelago in July, then to Greenland, followed by Iceland and the Canadian Arctic. My goal is to show people that although global warming is visible worldwide, its first signs appear way up North, in the Arctic, and we all need to take action NoW!

6What compliment inspired/touched you the most?
I recently got the most beautiful comment on my Instagram account. I am reproducing it here: "It is impossible to forget your photos! They really do make my day every time I stumble upon your posts. Gorgeous! I think many of us rediscovered nature through your pictures, and many of us started to google bird species and so on. Thank you! And all of us are giggling sometimes regardless if we are at work or on the tube."
7What inspires your unique storytelling?

Nature. Life. The stories just unfolded along with what I was feeling when taking the photos: so much emotion that needed to be shared! It all started with the Sphinx above but the next one is equally relevant because it is about wildlife. This time my muse was a black-winged stilt. It was almost urging me to never stop searching for moments like that one: that particular bird in that precise moment came with the whole plot, an intricate story plus the soundtrack.

I almost saw it on horseback in the Wild West while Ennio Morricone's The Ecstasy of Gold was playing in the background. I decided to name it "The Long-legged Cowboy". From then onwards I always applied a filter on my photos: if they don't tell a story, if they don't make me feel something, they end up in the trash bin. One more step from here and we get to the Lava Elephant (the photo that was awarded).

8What THREE (3) words describe your photography style?




9Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 London Photography Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
This makes me believe that I chose well, that this is the only way to get better photos, and it pushes me forward. Therefore, please allow me to say "Thank you!" from the bottom of my heart!
10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 London Photography Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Nature. It was the very first day of the Meradalir eruption and I was lucky to get there quickly. Surrounded by prominent names in photography, I thought I didn't stand a chance to get a memorable image. I eventually set off the drone above the volcano.

What happened was both unbelievable and ephemeral: for a few seconds the lava flow took the shape of an elephant! I blinked and it immediately turned into an abstract drawing but I had the chance to capture the Lava Elephant. It made me feel like the luckiest guy on Earth and I saw it as a good omen, so I decided to enter it in the contest.

11How has winning an award developed your career?
I feel that winning this award has made me trustworthy, especially as I am quite a beginner. Unfortunately, sometimes people tend to be more interested in the length of your career than in your achievements, especially if they are so recent. As far as I'm concerned, an award is just confirmation that I am on the right career path.
12Name 1-3 photographers who have inspired you.

Steve McCurry.

Marina Cano.

Aida Muleneh.

13What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out, by a mentor or your role model?
To try, as much as I can, to be one-of-a-kind, to be unlike all the others. To find my own way, my manner, a style that's like a brand. To let my guts guide me. To be myself in everything I do.
14What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photographer today?
Follow the rules, then break them all!
15What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Ambition, motivation and persistence. "To give is to get", they say. It means that only by investing time, resources, energy and a lot of patience in photography I will be rewarded with the snapshots I have dreamt to capture for so long.
16How do you stay in that space of being receptive to new information and knowledge?
I have constantly tried to learn from the best without copying their style or replicating how they do it. Their work is an inspiration, it motivates me, it opens my eyes. To me social media is an infinite resource, it provides the latest intel and enlightenment.
17Anything else you would like to add to the interview?

Please visit me on Instagram and check out my website ( where I will publish my diary from up North, sharing my day-by-day experiences in the Arctic.

I am looking forward to showing you what life is like close to the North Pole, so feel free to comment and share your insights about climate change. You and me and everybody else, together, can help preserve the beauty of nature as we know it!

Winning Entry

The lava elephant | 2023

The lava elephant | Rares Besliu

Iceland, 2022 - Meradalir Vulcano. I captured the moment when lava took the shape of an elephant. But, the ...
(Read more at London Photography Awards)

Rares Besliu

Having once been an entrepreneur, Rares Besliu transformed into an artist a few years ago, resulting in a markedly better life. While an interest in photography existed since childhood, it wasn't until 2015 that he began pursuing it seriously.

Read more about this interview with Adrian Schaub from Switzerland, the Gold Winner of the 2023 London Photograhy Awards.