photo © Andrei Duman
15 years ago, Andrei Duman was a tennis player and banker and not a professional photographer. That he is one now is reason to sit up and take notice. As a commercial-conceptual-travel-aerial-photographer, Andrei worries the most about being uninspired. So far, he seems to be doing quite well at sidestepping ruts. His career continues to hit plenty of high marks and he’s accumulating awards and an impressive client list which includes Richard Mille Watches, Nike, McLaren Automotive, The Four Seasons Hotel and Tony Hawk Foundation, to name a few. Still, his personal test for success will always be about chasing something new.
The video headlining on your website right now featuring skateboarder legend Tony Hawk creating free flowing spray paint art seems to reflect your personal philosophy. Tony says he’s always up for new challenges and ideas. Would you say you are more eager than most to do things differently?
Probably. I was told by lots of people to only be shooting one thing and stick with it. The advice was to have a specialty so clients would know exactly what to hire you for. When I started out, I was shooting in my spare time while I was working, first as a tennis player traveling all over the world and then as an investment banker in Manhattan. Most of my photos were initially travel- and landscape-related and I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to 82 countries.
But when I decided to become a fulltime photographer and moved to Los Angeles about five years ago, shooting only one category didn’t really make sense to me. I didn’t want to eliminate any particular genre of photography simply because it was not in my specialty. I wanted to continue to explore different subjects, different angles and different environments so I broadened my vision, and, in time, my skillset.
I can see ignoring that advice has been a good choice for you.
Right now, I have 23 different projects and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the variety. In the next few months I’ll be shooting from helicopters with Phase One’s IQ4 150 megapixel back. Then I’m going underground to document the CERN scientists who are working with world’s largest and most powerful particle collider, which is 100 meters (330 feet) beneath the France–Switzerland border near Geneva.
Wow, that certainly gives a new meaning to experiencing highs and lows. Do you worry?
Of course, but that is the thrill of trying different things as well. There are times when shoots don’t go as well I think they should at first. I’m continually amazed at how inexact photography is. Ideas are very different from results. I have been in a phase of questioning everything but I realize this is where the growth comes from. I think society—and as a result, photographers in general—are paying too much attention to social media trends. They can easily get influenced to focus on certain subjects or styles, even though it is not what they really want to do. Especially in photography, if you do not put your whole heart and passion into a project it will show. I fell into that trap a few months ago and forced myself to snap out of it. I promised myself that, as much as possible, I will focus on projects that I find interesting regardless of the subject involved. This way, it keeps me and my team on our toes. It forces you to be off balance a little and in turn, you present yourself to be shown new challenges from which you have to face. I believe that this is the only real way to learn new skills and stay current with technology and ideas.