My goodness. It’s been a fair few months since I last created a blog post… and with good reason! I’ve been damn busy.
I know, I know, I pretty much said this before, and I also keep saying that I will post more often, but never actually do.. but this time, I promise I will! However, I suppose I should bring you up to speed with what’s been happening.
Electric Castle 2018
So, I didn’t attend Untold Festival this year, but was toying with the idea of heading to Electric Castle. Although I’ve lived in Cluj for over 4 years, I still had not attended this legendary festival, plus I had no idea how to get involved with it and didn’t even know exactly where it was.
However, about 1 day before the festival was set to start, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was selling a pass for the full festival for 300 lei… which for those who aren’t familiar with the currency in Romania, is a pretty damn good price!
So, I ended up going to Electric Castle after all, and yes, I got absolutely soaked by the rain and sun burned during the same event… typical Electric Castle weather apparently.
Managed to take some great photos and even happier to see my work being used here and there by a few artists including JP Cooper, who seemed to have the crowd locked down with his chilling vocals and enormous talent!
— JP Cooper (@JPCooperMusic) 23 July 2018
Seems that a few members of Jessie J’s crew also enjoyed some of the snaps I’ve taken for them, as they decided to post a few of the images on the Instagram feed…
However, there was one downside, my images ended up pretty much everywhere without attribution… but thanks to the power of Instagram and reverse image search tools, I managed to pretty much nail down all of them and get my credit where it was due!
You can see a bunch of images from EC here: https://alr-photography.com/electric-castle/
The Rent Movement
Oh boy, where do I start with this? So, I was basically working on a website for property rentals in Cluj-Napoca for English speakers. It’s a part of that Cluj-Napoca.XYZ project that I started to help English speakers in Cluj find out what’s what in Cluj.
Considering how hard it was for me to start figuring out how property and rentals work here in the city, I decided it was a good idea to write an in-depth guide about how to rent in Cluj (pretty much applies to the whole of Romania anyway) and also to offer a platform in which they can search for property listings.
Well, during my research and attempts to find property owners and agencies to put listings on the site, I couldn’t help but notice the amount that was being asked for an apartment. It was WAY too high, and of course, the highest prices were aimed specifically at foreigners, which got me pretty mad, as that’s just not fair.
It’s not fair on the foreigners, but it’s also not fair on the Romanians, who try to call Cluj their home but are being priced-out of their apartments by owners wanting to raise the rent.
So the “movement” started, and it started with this video:
The interesting thing is, this video was purely designed to encourage both renters and owners to see the bigger picture… well then it ended up on a news site. (see it here in Romanian)
Before I know it, I’m receiving both messages of support and encouragement, as well as messages of “go fuck yourself”. Of course, I received more supportive messages and it’s understandable that agents and some property owners would be very unhappy with this sudden attention being drawn to the fact the prices are way too high.. but it sparked something which is still very much continuing right now.. and that’s the process of education and reform.
I’ve been working with some groups, individuals and even spoken with the mayor briefly to discuss the situation with rent which is gripping this awesome city.
I’ve learned a lot about the real estate market, what’s driving these prices and what the perception is of both Romanian’s and foreigners when it comes to the situation. In addition to this, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with some great people, as well as help out many others with advice and guidance!
I like it, but at the same time, it takes up a huge amount of my time.
Well, do you notice anything different? Haha! I’ve been completely rebuilding this website and I suppose it’s time to explain why.
Firstly, for those who have been following my blog, you’ll know that it was first the ALR Photography blog, then it was the Aaron Roberts Photographer blog. Well the “Aaron Roberts Photographer Blog” was hosted on https://blog.aaronlroberts.com, which was completely separate from https://aaronlroberts.com, and this was by design.
However, I soon realised that one of the main reasons that I don’t update my blog very often, is because I post a whole bunch of other stuff in other places, as well as maintain a bunch of websites. So I decided to combine the blog into the main “Aaron Roberts Photographer” website and change the design entirely.
I’ve decided that I needed a more “personal” portfolio of work, instead of just mirroring what’s available on ALR-Photography.com.
This website contains pretty much every single photo shoot I’ve taken since I started taking photography seriously. I went through years of photos, selecting some of my favourites from the albums and creating dedicated portfolios on this website!
It was actually VERY enjoyable, but also VERY time consuming. I think it took me almost an entire month to redesign and select through the images I wanted to use, then a few extra weeks to fine-tune the website, which is actually something I’m still doing as I write this blog post.
Many, many late nights, easily until 5 or 6 in the morning, but it also gave me the opportunity to re-edit some of the photographs from a few years ago, using my more developed skills!
For those who own a D-SLR camera (or mirrorless, if you’re a fancy pants), if you do not shoot in raw… you’re crazy. I was SO lucky to have kept almost every single raw file from every shoot I’ve worked on, as I was able to dial right back into the original settings and completely renew the photo in a more current style.
I think two of the best examples of completely re-edited shoots would be the one of Sorina which I named “Gas Station” and the one of Alexandra, named Floral Dress. However, honestly, there’s SO many other galleries which have been entirely re-imagined that I cannot possibly list them all.
The passing of my step-father
So, onto a more sad note, my step-father, the only man I considered my “dad” growing up, died on the 27th of September 2018. Unfortunately, he’d been battling an illness which I feel many of us can relate to, it kills over 2.8 million people each year, and it’s not cancer… it’s alcohol.
For those who have not had to experience seeing a loved one fall victim to alcohol abuse, it’s not something I can describe to you. As a family member, to watch someone drink themselves to the point where their body just cannot take it anymore, is something you can never really grasp.
There’s always that little voice in the back of your head which is just saying, “it’s a choice, they drink because they want to, they drink because of this or that…” but those who work in the medical industry will say that it’s an illness, a dependency and something that cannot be cured easily.
There’s no doubt that he caused me a lot of suffering over the years, but all of this suffering was as the result of his alcohol abuse, and what’s worse, is that underneath that, he was a very decent and caring man, with a lot to offer his friends and family.
But the alcohol just was too powerful for him to control. Multiple attempts to set him on the straight track, failed, until it got to the point where I think most people came to terms with the fact that he was probably never going to change.
Despite the fact that for the past 10 years, I had some very bad and painful experiences with him, he was still my step-dad, and in fairness, my “dad”. I didn’t considering him to be any less of my dad, just because he wasn’t my biological father.
Even with those bad experiences, he gave me a lot of value too. Especially his taste in music! To name a few:
- Pink Floyd
- Jethro Tull
- Emerson, Lake & Palmer
- Simon & Garfunkel
- John Lennon
- Ozzy Osbourne
- Led Zeppelin
- Frank Zappa
- Fleetwood Mac
- The Rolling Stones
- The Who
- Jimi Hendrix
- Black Sabbath
The list could go on and on, he used to tell me about how he seen Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd in person when they were just starting out, filling small concern halls around Bristol and other cities.
It’s a huge waste of life. As I said, he was a good man deep down, with so much to give… but the alcohol consumed him, and he lost his way. Ultimately, he lost his life way before he actually died, which I think is the saddest part.
Silly man, you loved him and hated him at the same time… he even managed to get caught in Google Street View!
It’s very sad that he’s gone, but at the same time, there’s a little bit of relief both for him and other members of the family. He was in pain, he was a shadow of the man he used to be and he had almost lost all of his quality of life.
I’ll remember him both with happy memories but also with some anger and frustration as those things can never be undone. But in the meantime, here’s a song:
You’re officially up-to-date! I’m sorry to have ended it on a pretty sad note, but this is the way it is. However, I do promise that I’ll be making more effort to post here and you’ll DEFINITELY be seeing more posts from this site, even if it’s just photo shoots :)!
Thanks for reading!