I met Vali Mada at Photostories event organized by Photo Romania Festival. After the event, we had a conversation and I discovered an interesting life story with contrasts and extremities. I decided to pass it to you as well together with some photos made by him in Transylvania.
Vali, how did you decide to become a photographer? Did you want to do this ever since you were a kid?
When I was a kid, I wanted to become a priest. That’s why I went to study at the theological high school in Oradea. Meanwhile, I have discovered my passion for music. So during the studies I used to climb the wall of the high school campus to go to the club in order to mix.
I was dreaming to become a known DJ. I didn’t manage to do that yet, but I mixed with some of the best DJs in the world in different famous clubs. However, being a DJ implies a very intense nightlife which comes together with all the risks and challenges of the industry.
“WHEN STUDYING AT THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, I USED TO CLIMB THE WALLS OF THE CAMPUS TO GO TO THE CLUB IN ORDER TO MIX. I WAS DREAMING TO BECOME A KNOWN DJ”.
What is happiness? This is a question I often asked myself, especially in those moments when I did not know what to do with my life. One of my conclusions is that more important than what you do is what you avoid to do. So I put my DJ activity on pause.
After finishing high school I was drafted in the army and sent to serve in the fire brigade. After graduating I became a professional firefighter, a profession I practiced for 9 years. The images I have encountered as a firefighter helped me climb the fence of reality and create my own images and my own reality. That’s how I came to composing images. That’s how I got to photography.
What made you give up your firefighting career to become a photographer?
After 9 years in the barracks, I felt trapped. Theoretically, I was a fulfilled man: I had a career, good work results; I had a girlfriend, a car, a place to stay, etc. But at one point I felt I had to do something more. I needed a change.
“SUFFERING EDUCATES AND PROVIDES LIFE LESSONS. I LEARNED THAT IF YOU ARE SHARP, DISCIPLINED AND RESPONSIBLE, YOU WILL SUCCEED”.
On an autumn Sunday I rediscovered my inner self, I listened carefully to my inner voice, and ever since I have lived my life by listening to that voice. Within 1 month, I gave up everything I had and left the country. I went to Ireland without a backup plan and no preparations.
That’s where I discovered what Transylvania means to me. I was living in the neighborhood where the writer Bram Stoker was born, the author who wrote the novel “Dracula”. When I was asked where I was from, I’d rather say that I was from Transylvania. I was not ashamed to say that I was Romanian; it just seemed to me more appropriate to say that I was a Transylvanian.
Living in Dublin was very difficult for me, but I made it and I learned some important lessons from this experience. I believe that suffering educates and provides life lessons. Life is like photography: you use the negative to develop. In Ireland, I learned that if you are sharp, disciplined and responsible, you will succeed.
“i had plenty of extremes and contrasts in my life: from white to black and from cold to hot”.
But the most important thing is that in Ireland I fell in love with photography. That is where I discovered what this art means, that is where I began to experience it and, after returning home, I decided to follow this passion.
There are stages in life that prepare you for the next episode. There are contexts in which you find yourself today, that over the years will show you that they were actually preparing you for the future, for the next steps in your life. I had many extremes and contrasts in my life: from white to black and from cold to hot.
What does photography mean to you?
When it comes to photography, I’m interested in immortalizing moments and transmitting emotions. Photography enabled me to rediscover some people I’ve known for a lifetime. When I took the camera in my hand for the first time, I felt I was meant to do this.
“Beauty is everywhere. You just have to know where to look and how to capture it. When I have the camera in my hand I try to lower my mind in my soul and take pictures that reflect this”.
I have been a photographer for 1 year, I’m still new in the field, but I like to experience and discover. I try to learn as quickly as possible to get a richer and more varied and expressive photographic vocabulary.
Photography taught me that you can find beauty anywhere. You just have to know where to look and how capture it. When I have the camera in my hand I try to lower my mind in my heart and take pictures that reflect this. You must have in order to give, and be in order to have. I am very grateful that I was able to discover myself that autumn Sunday.
Ever since that day autumn has turned from the season I hated to my favorite season. October is my favorite color. There should be a color called October.
“The unexpected always requires preparations. The best photos are not made out of luck but only if you worked hard, if you improved your skills and you knowledge”.
Photography also showed me that the unexpected always requires preparations. The best photos are not made out of luck but only if you worked hard, if you improved your skills and you knowledge.
Photography also made rediscover Transylvania. As a photographer, it’s amazing to shoot in Transylvania because we have so many beautiful places to discover. I cannot wait to find as many as possible and share my work with other people.