21 years ago, when he left Romania to go to South Africa, Lucian Coman (52 years old) did not even imagine how his life was going to change. He had his own business in Romania – a small company that fixed textile machines – but things did not work the way he wanted. “Just for a few years”, he said, and more than 20 passed ever since. Meanwhile he got from South Africa to Botswana, started from scratch, repaired machines at the beginning, and then, step by step, succeeded in accomplishing a childhood dream. He began with a digital camera and 2 dollars earned in his first month as a professional photographer and, with a lot of hard work and passion, built his own photo-video company, with famous international clients. Tiffany&Co, Scania, L’Oreal, Nissan, Honda, UNESCO, The Washington Post, Forbes, National Geographic or Reuters are among them, and the list is much longer. Last year, their commercial photo of the biggest diamond in the world got to the most famous international media. It’s not always easy, but Lucian has the chance to do what he loves, professionally, with heart also – and, in the end, it’s probably all that matters.
Lucian loves photography since he was a child, but has never done that professionally while he was in Romania. He worked in a factory, then had his own business – a small company that fixed textile machines. Worked hard, bought a car, then an apartment, but one day simply fell down – too much work, 2-3 hours a night for sleep. The decline of the local lohn industry followed, his income fell, he had a child and parents to take care of and that was the moment when he decided to leave. “Just a few years”, said at the beginning. To South Africa, because it was the first country that had given him a visa.
The beginning was not easy at all. Living in Pretoria, he repaired watches, cars, did a lot of small jobs. After a few months he moved to Botswana, thinking he would have better opportunities there. And he did, but he also started from scratch. “I remember that first time I got here there it was holiday time and there wasn’t any man in the street. And I just walked, until I heard some sewing machines somewhere, and I went there, it was a foreigner also who had that business”, he remembers.
Had small jobs at the beginning, and it was not easy at all. But then things arranged, little by little. He got married, brought his child from Romania. “He was 12 years old and had a placard at his neck, with “first time traveler”, he remembers, laughing.
From 2 dollars a month to famous international clients
Rarely, things work as we plan in life – and unplanned things happen to be, often, best choices in our lives. When he left Romania, Lucian did not plan to become a professional photographer. Haven’t even dreamt of it. But, one day, he just decided to give a try to his childhood dream.
He remembers his first digital camera – cost 1.000 dollars, and his first month with stock photos on specialized sites. “First month I had worked 12-14 hours a day and earned 2 dollars, the next month, 10 dollars”, he remembers. But it was a beginning. Then, little by little, the business started growing. He is working with his son and different contributors, depending on the project. Both him and his son graduated New York School of Photography.
Today, the business includes photography, videography and aerial shooting with the drones, and the list of international clients is very long. Tiffany&Co, Scania, Premier League, Nissan, L’Oreal, Bayer&Bayer, Volvo, UNESCO, European Commission, are just a few of them. Famous media like The Telegraph, Washington Post, Time Magazine, BBC News, Fox News, Forbes, National Geographic, Men’s Health, Reuters, are on the list, also.
He worked a lot for the local government, and had many photo shootings at the diamond mines in the area, also. Spectacular pictures were taken there, for international clients. The most famous were last year, when their team took commercial photos of the biggest diamond in the world – the most famous international media published them.
Working as freelancer is beautiful, but it’s also a risk that you’re taking – can be good or bad months, it’s not working very well all the time. There’s a lot of hard work, but Lucian is happy with what he’s doing. It’s something you can feel in every word when he talks about memories and the beauty of a profession where you have the chance not to get bored, ever.
“I do what I want and what I love, and it had never been any routine. I traveled a lot, took pictures, it’s a different kind of life. I have no comfort zone, I just love what I’m doing. Your wish to do this has to be strong enough – and yes, you can. It’s a challenge, it’s creativity, you learn something new all the time”, he says.
There are still moments, after all those years, when he feels that time stops in an image. Those moments when he’s taking pictures for his soul, when he succeeds in capturing the pure emotion. Joy or deep pain, in an image that makes more than one thousand words.
“I try to capture human emotion, to tell a story. You have to feel that moment, the light, to feel where it’s coming from and understand it, painting with a light. You have to feel and put what you feel in pictures”, he says.
Catalin, his son, is now naturalized as a citizen, graduated a faculty in mechanical engineering. Today, the country situated at more than 10.000 kilometers away from their native one is, for both, at home. Maybe never imagined this more than 20 years ago, when he left Romania. But it’s the place where he had fulfilled his dream – he’s still doing that, actually.
Things aren’t always good and shiny, but it will always be a possibility to follow your dream. You just have to want it strong enough and be convinced that yes, you definitely can. And you do.
PHOTOS FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVE
You can find out more about Lucian Coman and his work on his website, HERE
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