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The UNESCO Photographer

The UNESCO Photographer

Some years ago while I was surfing on the Internet, I stumbled across a very interesting and beautiful web page about the UNESCO sites in Romania. The page – patrimoniuromanesc.ro – presents in a professional way almost all the UNESCO sites in the country. The greatest achievement of this page is to entice the viewer into travelling to these areas. It is one of the best ways to promote the Romanian tourism, and it is made by one man only: Cosmin Dănilă.

Hi, and where are you from?

Hi! I was born in Braşov, Romania.

When did you start to be interested in photography?

I took my first pictures in 1998, when I went to work on a cruise ship. I was 24 years old.

You have a wonderful page about the Romanian UNESCO sites. What made you begin this project?

The project started when I realized there was nothing like it anywhere. I was looking for pictures about the UNESCO sites and barely found a few, so I decided to photograph them all and make a collection.

How many years did it take you to finish this task?

I took the first shots in October 2005 and the last in May 2008. I don’t consider my work done, but I had to draw the line when I immigrated to Canada. It took me about ten more months to build the website, which was launched in March 2009.

I saw that you took pictures of the same sites in different seasons. How many times did you go to the same locations?

As many as I could. I visited all the locations at least twice, and some of them up to six times.

What was the most difficult picture taken during this project?

As a general rule, it was very difficult to find the Dacian fortresses in the OrăştieMountains. There were no signs at that time, so I wasted many hours and days.

For example: The winter trip to Sarmizegetusa Regia was extremely tough. Due to the poor road conditions, I had to leave my car and walk 20 km each way, and at -20 C. When I got back to the car, a flat tire was waiting for me. I had to drive like that until I came to the first village where some people were nice enough to help me fix it. The spare tire was a joke and completely useless on those roads. And let me say that “road” is a euphemism in this case!

Of all the places you have seen during this project, which was your favorite?

I really don’t have a favorite, although the Danube Delta is very special because it’s the only natural site among them.

Why is Suceviţa missing from your page?

Because it was introduced on the UNESCO World Heritage List only in 2010, and I was in already in Canada.

Can you tell us an interesting story related to these photo trips?

I was at Hurezi Monastery in April 2008, at Easter. It was my second consecutive day of taking pictures there when much to my surprise, the Mother Superior called me into her office. Pretending to be curious, she asked to see the pictures I had taken and also asked for my memory card. Trying to be friendly, and with no idea whatsoever about her real intentions, I gave it to her. After browsing through my pictures, she began to threaten me, saying that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures on the premises and that she was going to call the police. I knew that I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I didn’t want to start a fight that I knew I couldn’t win against her and her friends in the police. She returned my card, but only after she had downloaded all the images onto her computer and erased my photos.

I was devastated, but luckily, after I got home, I was able to recover all the data with the help of professional software. That was by far the worst experience I had while working on the project.

Did any Romanian officials from the Ministry of Romanian Tourism, or any other Romanian official thank you for the work? Did they invite you to different tourism fairs around the world?

I do not recall that officials from any Romanian ministries contacted me. Only the person in charge of  the Romanian Tourist Office in New York sent a few kind messages regarding the pictures. He offered to pay for the use of some for their website, but I offered them to him at no cost. And as far as I know, there are a few pictures from the project hanging in the new American Embassy in Bucharest –  but I have no real proof as they are not in public areas.

Do you know if your page about the Romanian UNESCO sites has managed to bring tourists to Romania?

I’m not absolutely certain, but I have received messages from people saying that they wanted to visit Romania after seeing my website.

What’s your opinion about the Romanian tourism?

Not good! Don’t get me started.

What are the main assets of the Romanian tourism? What should be improved?

Romania has so much to offer, starting with its natural beauty and its historical sites. But the service is the worst and everything should be improved! I could write a whole book about it!

Where do you live now?

Edmonton, Canada.

What’s the opinion of your new compatriots about Romania?

My new compatriots don’t really care about Romania, which is normal. Very few of them even know where Romania is, which is also normal. They have their own lives to deal with.

What’s your job now?

I’m a wedding, life style and social events photographer. This is my blog: cosminfoto.blogspot.ro

What type of photography do you prefer? What do you try to capture?

My favorite style by far is photo journalism. I capture lots of real moments and emotions.

Do you have any other travel projects in mind?

 I do, but I don’t want to talk about it. I like to do things first and then talk. J

Thank you, Cosmin, for this interview and for your wonderful project!

It was my pleasure! I’m happy that you appreciate my work, and thank you very much for having me!

About the author: Daniel Gheorghita is an experienced Romanian licensed tour guide living in Bucharest and manager of Covinnus Travel. He is very passionate about photography, hiking and biking. His motto is "Life must be fun". That's why his hobbies are part of the daily work.

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