A child finds a camera in a drawer. Photography then becomes an extension of her own identity, while the chaotic surrounding world becomes a lot clearer. This is a profile of the 17-year old self-taught photographer Maria Blaga from Sibiu.

Not at all talkative, but determined, it’s easy to spot her in a crowd. When asked what she prefers to photograph, she says she doesn’t necessarily have a favorite thing, but she likes to take pictures of people. About her fears, she says she has none worthy of being mentioned – she gradually overcomes each one. Maria is the stamp that does not stick to anything, but you keep it somewhere because it’s weird and unique, and you like it.

‘For now, I am a high school senior at Samuel von Brukenthal. The first time I got my hands on a camera I was about 9 or 10 years old. It was a small Canon, a Powershot. I became more and more interested, taking pictures of anything I got my eyes on. I still like to try all types of cameras (film, digital). My favourites are Nikon D90, Nikon FE3 and an Olympus point and shoot.

‘When I take pictures, I feel connected to reality.’

But I think it doesn’t matter what camera you are using as long as you know how to take a good picture. Firstly, you need a vision. For me, a good photo arouses emotions, makes one feel something, anything. It shows you different versions of the world around you: trivial things that you maybe pass by every day express a unique, ephemeral beauty when watched carefully. When I take pictures, I feel connected to reality. No any other art form can capture a moment of human existence with such precision and ease. As Edward Weston said, photographs reveal to the public ‘what their blind eye missed’. That’s what I’d want to do.

I’ve walked this road alone. I’m self-taught. I didn’t have anyone, a mentor to give me advice, to guide me, to show me what I was doing right or wrong. I did not attend classes or lessons about photographic art. I learned how to use editing programs watching Youtube tutorials. But I had the support of my friends and family.

I want to keep studying photography in another country. I feel that I still have a lot to learn. I wish to have the opportunity to experience several photographic domains (photojournalism, fashion photography, etc.), figure out what suits me. Nowadays, photos are everywhere around, they practically, dominate the media and, therefore, the society. And in all this chaos, I’d like to create something beautiful.

I find inspiration by looking at photos taken by other photographers, or by taking screenshots of frames from movies I love. Nan Goldin, Olivia Bee, Cass Bird, Lauren Withrow – are some of those I watch and admire. That, and getting out there to take pictures – are the best techniques to grow as a photographer.

I began to take photos of my sister, Elena, when she was about 2 years old, and now she is used to being photographed. She has developed a special naturalness in the pictures. She’s always beside me and I can take out the camera to take a picture of her at any time. When I show her pictures of her, she says they are beautiful, but then she runs back to playing. She’s my favourite model.’

– Maria Blaga

English Translation: Diana Merlan