Artist Spotlight Interview: Andrei Cosma of PhotoCosma/PhotoDesign

My friend and writer Matthew John Benecke has published an interview with me on TheStayAtHomeScholar.com this year. It promotes my usual images but also the newly made PhotoCoverDesign.com website and service. I figured it is the perfect piece to have on my blog, as I haven’t written here in a long time. You can see the original interview here. Big thanks to Matthew for the interview!

“I first encountered Andrei’s incredible photography back in 2017 when I was designing the cover for my third novel, The Metamorphoses. I had signed up for an account with CreativeMarket.com, and, as part of a promotional free package of images, I spotted one similar to the photo featured above. I was stunned: not only was it exactly the style that I was looking for, I couldn’t get over how hauntingly beautiful it was.

I made contact with the photographer, purchased a photo for use with my book, and came away with a new favorite artist and a new friend as well. I refer to Andrei as an artist because his photographic skills go far beyond merely snapping still shots; instead, he manages to create entire worlds that blend the ordinary with the otherworldly–realms of shadow and light where terrifying uncertainty and awed curiosity are born in equal measures.

I asked him where he conducted his photo shoots, and his response brought an instant smile to my face. After all, it’s not every day that an American horror writer and a Transylvanian photographer come into contact! (And, really, is there any more classic location for fans of dark fiction than Transylvania!?)

Aside from continuing to produce his incomparable photography with his brother, Andrei has begun a book cover and promotional materials business. To help spread the word about his work and the new services he is offering, I conducted an interview with him that you can find below:

So Andrei, where are you from?

I’m from Zalau–a small town in Transylvania, Romania

How long have you been involved in photography/graphic design?

I’ve been a photographer since 2008.

Wow–that’s more than a decade in the industry! What made you want to pick up a camera/begin designing?

I’ve always liked visual things like drawing, painting and comics. When I was a little kid, I loved the way it stopped time–capturing something that otherwise would be lost forever. I’ve been involved with photography since I was about 10 years old, but since 2008 I’ve actively tried learning more about the field, and getting a strong knowledge foundation.

Who or what are your biggest photographic inspirations?

Starting out as a nature/landscape photographer, my biggest inspiration is Ansel Adams.

I love Ansel Adams’s work! He’s definitely one of my favorites, as well. What do you like the most about his photographs?

I like the way he basically simplified landscapes, almost making them abstract in some cases. And his edits are the best – the contrasts, light and shadow in his photos are amazing. I think shooting his photos in black and white helped, but that’s what I like about his images: they are so good, they look surreal.

I completely agree. Do you have any other influences or inspirations?

Other photographers that I really love are Robert Capa and Francesca Woodman. There are more, but I think those three cover all of the picturesque beauty/photojournalism/moody atmospheric photography that I enjoy.

What do you look for when you’re creating an image/how important is the original image versus what’s done in post editing?

I want to get a good photo out of the camera to begin with, but I am not afraid to edit my images. The camera, the computer–they are all just tools in achieving my vision.

I feel the same way. I strive always to keep my images authentic, but sometimes what I see when I take the photo in my mind isn’t what appears on the memory card!

Editing is an important part of the process. I think sometimes photos have to be helped to reach their true potential. The camera isn’t yet capable of capturing the true beauty like we see it, so we have to help it a bit in post processing.

What do you enjoy about photography/graphic design?

What I enjoy most about photography/graphic design is that I can create feelings, emotions with my images, create worlds for the viewer.

Speaking of creating worlds–Romania seems like an incredible, almost fantasy-like place for photography. What’s it like shooting there?

Romania still has some great landscapes, but I have to say that the wild and beautiful parts of Romania are getting smaller and smaller with each passing day. The reasons for this are multiple–and a lot of the times have to do with stupidity and corruption–so this leads to a lot of interesting photo tours.

A lot of times, it’s an adventure just getting to the place I want to photograph, or getting the photos and getting back home in one piece. But when everything is well, and all the pieces fall into place, I can get some interesting results.

Transylvania is often typecast as the focal point of horror, at least in American popular culture. Do you find any similarities between the stereotypes of the region and what you actually experience there? (In other words–does the setting help to influence the photos?)

Transylvania really has some interesting places to photograph, especially if the atmospheric conditions are right. I can see where the authors (book and film) have got their inspiration. Some of the stereotypes really do work–like walking through a cold, damp, autumn forest in the evening. Your imagination starts to act up on you, and you can almost see the fantasy creatures lurking in the shadows.

What are your interests beyond photography? Do you think that they influence your creativity?

Music influences my work the most, I think. A lot of the times when I am out photographing, or when I am sorting and editing the photos, I have certain songs in my mind, and this helps me create those atmospheric images.

Books and movies also have a big influence on me. The most important book authors would be H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, J. R. R. Tolkien. Of course there are more, but I think these three have all the pieces needed for my imagination to work: strange, surreal, paranormal and fantasy worlds.

As for movies, I am a big fan of Stanley Kurbick and Alfred Hitchcock.

Those are all excellent choices–masters of their crafts, for sure! So where can folks find your photography?

You can find my photography on http://www.photocosma.net. I have images for sale on Stocksy.com, and I’m also present on social media. All the links are on the website.

On the topic of websites, you just launched a book design service, right? What do you offer there?

Yes, besides photography, there’s also a new service: book covers and album covers design. You can find more about those on: http://www.photocoverdesign.com

There, you can get your custom eBook cover, full book cover, or social media promotion kit. Here is a sample of some of my work:

Sample cover artwork from:
http://www.photocoverdesign.com

Thank you to Andrei for a great interview! If you’re a writer looking for an eye-catching, high quality book cover or promotional materials, please consider checking out PhotoCoverDesign.com! Also, be sure to give Andrei a follow or a like on his social media channels!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhotoCosma/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/photocosma

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/photocosma/

Stocksy Top 5 – February 2019

Abstract Purple And Blue Background

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Abstract Purple And Blue Background

Forest Road In Fall

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Forest Road In Fall

Morning Lake Fog

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Morning lake fog

Twisted Autumn Branch

twisted_autumn_branch
Twisted Autumn Branch

Eagle Flying Over Trees In Autumn

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Eagle Flying Over Trees In Autumn

1000 Stocksy images

Last month, the 1000th photo by PhotoCosma got accepted on Stocksy United. The collection keeps growing every month and I’m really happy about the quality and variety of them. Here are also the top 5 images from last month – December 2018:

Snow Flakes Falling In Winter Wonderland Woods

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Snow Flakes Falling In Winter Wonderland Woods

Man With Lantern On The Shore

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Man With Lantern On The Shore

Autumn Lake Reflection

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Autumn Lake Reflection

Man On Cliff Edge

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Man On Cliff Edge

Old Tree Texture

Old Tree Texture
Old Tree Texture

Shutterstock Blog Feature -Creepy Places

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halloween night in dark spooky forest

Hello, it’s been a while since I’ve written on this blog, but I have some nice news and something to read on the Shutterstock blog: 6 Photographers on Shooting Their Favorite Creepy Places

In the article you’ll find three of my photos and a bit of info about them:

“Want to explore abandoned houses and lonely graves? Discover creepy places with tips from these six artists as they share their secrets for finding and photographing locations that haunt the senses.

Photography and superstition share a long history, dating all the way back to the “spirit photography” craze of the 19th century. While the “ghosts” that appeared in early camera experiments were in fact merely the results of long exposures, these eerie images were quite popular throughout the second half of the 1800s; many of them were widely published or sold as stereocards. And more than a century later, we still enjoy a good spooky photo.

In honor of the Halloween season, we put together this collection of spine-chilling photographs. We asked six Shutterstock contributors to tell us about the creepiest places they’ve visited, and they shared stories from around the world. While none of them spotted any “ghosts,” their images certainly raised the hair on the backs of our necks. Read on if you dare.

1. “You have to wait for nature to give you the perfect conditions.”

andreiuc88

6 Photographers on Shooting Their Favorite Creepy Places — Wait for Nature

Image by andreiuc88. Gear: Nikon D7200 camera, Sigma 10-20mm lens. Settings: Focal length 18mm; exposure 1/80 sec; f5.6; ISO 200.

What’s the story behind this photo?

I have been exploring a specific forest and photographing it for the past ten years. I live in the northwestern part of Transylvania, Romania, so there were always mysterious legends and myths about forests. That helps me set the mood in my mind.

On early autumn mornings, I go out and look at the mountain where this forest is. On this particular morning, it was colder than usual, and the rain was pouring. The whole mountain was shrouded in fog, and I knew it was a great day for mysterious forest photos. I always go out photographing with my brother, so we got our equipment and drove to the forest together.

As we entered the dark woods, I felt like I was in a surreal world with a haunting silence, full of mystery and wonder. After walking and taking photos for some time, we got to a place that has these old, ancient trees with twisted branches. This added to the spooky atmosphere and created a scary scene. I told my brother to walk between the trees, and I took this photo.

The light coming from the front transformed the trees into silhouettes, and the light was pretty dim, so it almost looks like a night photo. I love the surreal, dark mood and the overall atmosphere.”

Read the rest on the Shutterstock blog: https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/photos-favorite-creepy-places

 

Stocksy Top 5 of the Month – April 2018

I’m back with another Stocksy United Top 5 of the Month – the April edition. This time it’s about mysterious dark lakes in the forest, spring pastures with trees in bloom, gorgeous autumn mountain sunsets, creepy crawlers and night photos of river under the stars. I’ve also had some photos added to the curated feed lately, more that in the past. It’s great that Stocksy is finally expanding its vision into promoting dark, ethereal, mysterious images. Here is my Top 5 for April 2018:

Mysterious dark autumn forest lake

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Mysterious dark autumn forest lake

Spring fairy tale

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Spring fairy tale

Late autumn sunset with cabin

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Late autumn sunset with cabin

Creepy crawler

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Creepy crawler

River and mountain under the stars

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River and mountain under the stars

Stocksy Top 5 of the Month – October 2017

It’s that time of the month again when I see how the last month has been and make a top of the most notable photos added to Stocksy. October was a great month. Like always, a lot of the photos that I uploaded are special. Adding them to the Stocksy collection makes them even more valuable. My top 5 picks for the last month are:

Dark spider on Halloween

Dark creepy Halloween spider on green background
Dark spider on Halloween

Mountain peak in autumn

Mountain peak in autumn through colorful trees
Mountain peak in autumn

Man walking in winter dream

Man walking on winter day in fantasy landscape with river in forest
Man walking in winter dream

Man hiking in birch tree forest

Man walking in birch tree forest on autumn day
Man hiking in birch tree forest

Man with lantern on Halloween night

Man with lantern in the dark
Man with lantern on Halloween night

Deep Mountain Canyon Panorama

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Deep mountain canyon panorama with green vegetation and pine trees

Following an unknown mountain river has led to some great findings. After walking up the river for a couple of hours, me and my brother were amazed to hear the sound of a powerful waterfall roaring. We had no knowledge of a waterfall on that river and as this was our first time there had no idea where the sound was coming from. After some exploring we managed to find it: the river was suddenly falling of a steep cliff before carving into the mountain and getting lost underground, only to reappear again a couple of hundred meters downstream.

The weather turned cold suddenly and rain began to fall so the steep cliffs were really slippery, but we knew we had to explore this beautiful place. As the rain fell the river swelled and the waterfall roared even louder. I was near the waterfall and felt it’s true force – drops of water flying through the air swept by the currents and lifted into the cold air. We climbed down as low as we could to get a view of the steep slope. Couldn’t get all the way down to where the water was disappearing into the mountain but got low enough to see the whole place from below.

I used my trusty wide 10 mm lens but it was still not enough to capture the whole scene so I made a panorama from three shots. I used f/11 at 1/2 seconds (had to use a closed down aperture to get everything in focus) and ISO 100. This shot was especially hard to get because water was pouring on to the lens from the rain and from the waterfall, but at the end of the day it was worth it. the green moss on the roots and rocks, the steep cliffs, the tall pine trees up in the distance seen from an unusual angle – all helped to create a photo of a wild hidden and dangerous world. This angle emphasizes the steepness of the place and think it manages to transmit part of my feelings from this dangerous experience.

This photo is part of my exclusive Stocksy collection: https://www.stocksy.com/1217967

Dark Dreams Multimedia Collaboration

I have been talking and sharing ideas with writer Matthew John Benecke for some time now. He is a great writer and a great guy. He does an excellent job at painting an atmosphere, a tableau and giving a narrative backbone to any image that he has in his mind. After seeing my post about the Dark Dreams series he quickly drafted something up, made a video and sent it to me. I was blown away by the amount of feelings I got from watching it, making me imagine the whole scene and almost feeling the cold wind blowing, so I’ve decided to share it with you:

You should also check his books on www.matthewjohnbenecke.com

This video is his work, I only provided the photo. Hope we will work on something more in the future and I’ll be able to be a little bit more involved. The last months have been kind of a “dark dream” for me, so I find it really cool that Matthew took the time to work on something we talked about even if I couldn’t help much.

Deer in Winter Forest

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Deer trough trees in winter forest

I don’t usually capture photos of wildlife, but in my search for special moments in nature I got a glimpse of them a few times. It’s always like seeing a chimera, a ghost. I know it’s something that many never see and that I don’t see everyday. I also know that these sightings get fewer as time goes by and as we humans destroy the places that wild animals inhabit, so it becomes more and more like seeing a ghost. I feel that I am wittnessing something rare. This is why this feels a bit bittersweet to me.

I was out in the woods in winter photographing when snow started to fall. I started shooting with a tele lens to get the dreamy snowflakes in the frame, and after a couple of minutes I saw this wild deer trough the trees. It didn’t take long before it noticed me and got further and further away from me, but I managed to capture the photo above, along with others. The trees made everything even more difficult, but I like how in the end the tree trunks frame the deer and also the fact that the dark trees contrast with the snowflakes falling. It truly was a magical moment.

It seems that the folks at Stocksy appreciated this special moment too, so now it is available for licensing here.

Sleeklens Photoshop Actions

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I’ve had the chance of trying the Landscape Adventure Collection of Photoshop actions from Sleeklens. They are consisting of 56 landscape Photoshop actions which can be used for a variety of effects. I like the fact that they are grouped under several categories of adjustments like exposure, base editing, toning and enhancing. They also have “all in one” adjustments to simplify the work of the photographer and get the work done quicker, although this might not always work with on any photo. The actions that I’ve tried range from discreet adjustments to over the top dramatic ones. While the dramatic ones seem more interesting you have to keep in mind that the quality of a photo degrades the more adjustments are applied to it.

You can take a look at the Sleeklens website and see the several actions packs that they are offering for both Photoshop and Lightroom, as well as their other services like the professional photo editing service.