S1E6 Dorin Vasilescu, Florentine Commercial Photographer

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Dorin Vasilescu and Mark Abouzeid on “Walking out of Lockdown”

Mark Abouzeid welcomes Dorin Vasilescu, a commercial photographer based in Florence, Italy. Dorin discusses the lockdown in Italy, his new series of the tourism capital devoid of people and how the time he spent in lockdown with his wife and daughter were quite memorable.

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Born in Romania, he experienced the perfect childhood, in a small village near the mountains, counting stars during late nights. He used to “take” portraits of his friends with an old camera (with no film inside), go back into his “darkroom” and then present them with a hand-drawn “picture” on a piece of paper. Years later after illustrating a book with his own drawings, he still dreams of flying among the stars and dedicated a piece of his soul to photography.

His work has been published in various magazines and newspapers.

He’s the director of ” Sculpting Harriet Tubman – The Creative Process “, a short documentary about the creation of a life-size statue, by sculptor Frank Rekrut, honoring Harriet Tubman, for the new Harriet Tubman Public School in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.


Every week, Mark Abouzeid reaches out to freelancers, artisans, creatives, culture protagonists and everyday people on how they survived lockdown and what the ‘new normal’ means to them, personally and professionally. In an intimate conversation between friends, Abouzeid asks them about the future, what changes they will make to adapt and how they intend to rebuild.

Director: Mark Abouzeid
Producer: Real Lives Channel on youtube

Interviewer: Mark Abouzeid
Editing and Postproduction: Mark Abouzeid

Creative Commons Stock footage:
Woman Washes Hands – Cinesim Media
SFDPH Wash Hands Spanish – SFGovTV
Wash your hands, grab your hand sanitizer, keep Corona and other related infections away – #CapitalFmKenya
200129_01_Medical_4k_005 – Videvo
200314 – Work Life_Hand Sanitiser_04_4k_003 – Videvo
WASH Your Hands Mr Bean! | Bean Movie | Classic Mr Bean – Classic Mr Bean

Music from http://www.Epidemic Sound.com:
“Safehouse (explicit version)” – Iso Indies

Thank you to Zoom for webconferencing and recording.

Copyright Mark Abouzeid, 2020. All rights reserved.


Mark Abouzeid 0:22
Good afternoon. This is Mark Abizaid, walking out of lockdown. I’m a filmmaker, journalist and cultural specialist. Today I’m talking to Jordan vezel Eskew, photographer, filmmaker, and a good friend, Jordan. Hi. Hi, my D let’s go back to New Year’s Day. You know, what were your expectations for the coming year? What was your personal and professional resolutions for the new year?

Dorin Vasilescu 0:53
Well, I usually don’t make plans so long, even if it’s just for the year. But things were going great. And I had some projects around the world. You know, and I was getting excited. I was looking forward to this year, actually.

Dorin Vasilescu 1:16
And yeah, you know, March King, and yeah, and

Mark Abouzeid 1:20
let’s go there because obviously lockdown came but I remember a day I was on Instagram and I saw your posting of I’m supposed to be leaving for the Maldives today. Tell me about that. Yeah.

Dorin Vasilescu 1:35
Oh, yeah, no actually

Dorin Vasilescu 1:38
the Mallis plan was

Dorin Vasilescu 1:42
just going there for a month, you know, filming around the islands and ending up with some nice videos and nice pictures. We plan everything in detail. You know, we had some support From the local authorities but so yeah, when everything was started in Italy is you know, first was in China the rumors and the news about the pandemic now, what was then just the virus? Um, and yeah, we start the following the years you know, the restrictions and yeah, at some point that I think is the first or second of March. there is friction towards Italia or leaving from Italy and other countries have started with some restriction from coming to from Italy. My plane was my flight was from Rome, to Moscow from Moscow to Mali. It was a safe route at that point, you know, but for me Yes, I am decided to easily myself, you know, and I’ve done that since March 5. Although in Italy, the official lockdown started in on March 9, just in case you know, hoping that everything will be okay, all this will finish in few weeks and I’ll be just fine. I didn’t contact. I didn’t enter in contact with anyone else. You know, I tried to keep everything on the safe side. At some point I am Romanian born so at some point, Romania was a safe place. I thought going in Romania staying there for two weeks, you know, respecting all the rules from coming to from Italy and leave from there. I said, maybe not because this is going a little bit too fast up the station. So I said okay, well See? Yeah, we kept looking at the news checking the restriction everything until if I’m not wrong on 24th of March or something, or maybe earlier, when

Dorin Vasilescu 4:14
Maldives closed

Dorin Vasilescu 4:18
their country, at least from the one coming from Italy. My client was coming from Argentina. So it was, you know, a situation that he already changed his fights in the beginning of smarsh because of that. And you know, at that point that was the end of March we said that’s it.

Dorin Vasilescu 4:42
Nothing to do.

Mark Abouzeid 4:44
Yeah, and you know, you’ve been in lockdown now for basically two months more or less.

Dorin Vasilescu 4:53
Oh, yes, though, officially, they’re like 54 days or something. So since night March 9.

Mark Abouzeid 5:01
Yeah. And I know you have a young daughter effia, who’s wonderful. And you’re so the three of you, you know, talk to me about lockdown was that, you know, with with not a small child, because if he has what eight?

Dorin Vasilescu 5:15
It’s she said one but yeah, you know, probably she’s the bravest from all of us. She never complained for anything until a few days ago when she wanted a swing. But you know, it was just after two months, it was reasonable, let’s say, yeah. Yeah. Well, let’s say with, for us, for me, was not too hard. doing that. Staying locked down because we like each other. And also, we don’t interact too much with other people in our free time. We try to stay as much as we can together. So It was a good opportunity. And yes, you know, during the day we also have to have our smile on our face, you know, for her and try to act as normal as we could, you know, because although we explained to her everything that is happening and what will come next, at least from what we’ve taught will come next. And she understood we you know, we try to avoid talking too much with her about that in the way telling her what is happening wrong or what you know about two people that are dying or things like that we just don’t have any information but we don’t try to insist too much on that. We just let her asking question if you had walked in. Oh, yeah. After she went to sleep, you know, like Everyone else probably we start thinking what will happen next? We you know from what who our lives will be our personal lives what our business life will be you know, now

Mark Abouzeid 7:19
let’s talk about that yeah let’s let’s go there now you know, we’re looking at walking out of lockdown what are the things I met your wife is a writer you obviously have a studio. There’s a lot of I know a big part of your business is

Dorin Vasilescu 7:40
international I think

Mark Abouzeid 7:41
it’s in China 9% of people have to be there you you know your business is fashion. Your business is things where there’s a set or there’s a you know, now you’re for things now and we’ll get to that in a minute but coming from when you walked into lockdown now walking out of lockdown, what do you see? both professionally and personally as the issues you’re going to face your what you hope to do

Dorin Vasilescu 8:05
oh no even though before not all my clients I hear when they hire me because most of them are connected in a way with Florence or with eataly and they are producing the stuff here so they will just hire me and all we’re talking over phone emails, Skype but the it’s, it’s hard to see because everything right now as I’m seeing it depends on for now what is happening anything. And as you probably know and even though he said to be the lockdown either he was a little bit different than other countries. We were here like in complete lockdown. That means we’re allowed to go outside only for groceries. Or if an emergency for emergency problems. Yeah. You know, not for anything else. No. Yes, there were certain situations that people couldn’t go out like if they were working in the food industry, or you know, but other than that, yeah, I was allowed to go out as a photographer, because I’m not the photo journalist essay. But as the denominational photographer in Italy, it’s everything included. Also the photo photo journalist, I was allowed to go I didn’t do it in the beginning. Because, as I said, first of all I thought to I try to protect myself and my business, you know, talking about business To protect the project that it was coming in few weeks, few days, because of that was the second I thought is the normal way and the right thing to do during this one became bad and pandemic, because, you know, it’s something that you don’t see you don’t feel it until it’s not too late. And the life around us is the life the nature around us is going normal and nothing seems to happen bad, you know, but it’s there. It’s there.

Mark Abouzeid 10:42
Yeah, and I must admit, I I’m not jealous of anybody living in a city during the pandemic. And yet, the work you’ve been shooting has made me very jealous as a photographer because too and I lived in Florida. For years, it’s you know, to see Florence in these situations completely empty, which, even at two o’clock, five o’clock in the morning you never find in Florence is stunning to me. It’s amazing, but what’s, what was the emotional impact or what was the psychological feeling? Because Yeah, on the one hand, it’s beautiful. But on the other hand, it must have had an impact also.

Dorin Vasilescu 11:25
Um, so I thought about, you know, as a photographer and shooting around the city, you know, and probably, you know, all the Florentines I say, No, I wish the city to BMP just have it for myself, you know. And I also in December, I have a client from China. He was asking me for images of Florence without anyone on the streets. I just the buildings are landmarks You know, it was an impossible job. But as you can imagine, You know, I explained to him I told him that Listen, I will do my best. I know some moments when and from some angles that I can have as less people as I like

Mark Abouzeid 12:12
for years and Florida, exactly over here.

Dorin Vasilescu 12:16
Exactly. If you know you go to the right moments early in the morning, but going in the center early in the morning and a half north of the best light. So, you know, I’ve done the job, you know, because I the best as I could and the client was happy with with it, but you know, having Florence empty when we know that millions of tourists are coming during the year here, it’s you know,

Mark Abouzeid 12:45
it’s mind

Dorin Vasilescu 12:46
boggling. It’s a bad joke. You know, maybe, and yeah, I thought this is the beginning of going out but by deciding that I decided not to Before I told you my reasons and also is we are in this together I said okay it’s better let’s just stay in the house and whatever you know oh yeah and everything was canceled like my agenda free for the entire year you know a lot of booking cancel a lot of you know refunds and things like that so you start worrying and you use my my entire business is based on the relations with with my with my clients. It’s based on international clients and I’m, although I’m living here in Florida so I have just, you can count them on one hand my local clients is I when I move here in Florida And will when I started here, you know, the market was already full. Yeah. So I had to find my niche.

Mark Abouzeid 14:09
Yeah. And I must admit, and I commend you, because I didn’t know you early on, or at least we met early on, and I was already a photo journalists there, and I loved your skill, but part of me thought we have too many photographers, you know, absolutely grow that and grow your segment and actually been quite impressed by it, like you say, using what you have, which is Florence.

Dorin Vasilescu 14:37
Exactly like

Mark Abouzeid 14:38
everybody else wants.

Dorin Vasilescu 14:40
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Although I am doing

Dorin Vasilescu 14:44
commercial work. You know, Florence is Florence and anyone in this world knows Florence or if you show a picture with the foreign backdrop, they will know if Florence or Italians were too skinny or Renaissance. You know, there are lots of things that can be useful for commercial clients here, so yeah, I try to do that. People are Longo, Longo. You know, a strong one, but oh yeah, in the beginning I managed to do it. Okay.

Mark Abouzeid 15:25
You’ve definitely carved a niche for yourself. Alright, getting back to lockdown. Yeah.

Dorin Vasilescu 15:29
Getting back there.

Mark Abouzeid 15:33
Let me know. Let me just interrupt just because we got to keep this reasonably short. But let me ask you all right. You have been outside obviously you do the shopping, you’ve taken some photos but let’s say today’s lockdowns over. You’re about to walk out the door. You can go anywhere you want. Do anything you want. What’s the first thing you want

Dorin Vasilescu 15:59
to lose? I see Decide, oh

Dorin Vasilescu 16:04
yeah, this is off today. It’s May 4, some although in Florida started on May 1, you are allowed to go out now just for walking or just to the bike, whether you have to start from home coming back from home, and to not stop anywhere, just walk or bike. And that’s it. This is probably the most thing that’s happening the past to the best thing that happened in the past two months from the people that were staying inside house. As I was thinking why some point in on April 10, I decided to go out because it was the day when I moved in Florence 10 years ago. So I just you know In the most clean the beginning my first years in, in Florence, I used to walk during the night when no one was around, you know. So I know it was something that says, okay, you have to do it.

Mark Abouzeid 17:15
I know what you mean. I know what you mean. I used to go to the jazz club to shoot blues every Tuesday night. And I would walk home at three o’clock in the morning with this heavy backpack full of equipment, but I always walk home. Because there’s just a magic at that time of night about

Dorin Vasilescu 17:33
exactly. So I decided to go out with a head of support for local newspaper, because although I’m a photographer and I could work during this

Dorin Vasilescu 17:46
time, you also have to have a contract with someone that that is

Dorin Vasilescu 17:53
giving you the rights to go there. Yeah. So file must be like a A lot of policeman stopped me I just friendly talk with them explain them what I’m doing there okay, only once happened that they checked my papers and co responsible and everything else. But for the resto p i was okay. Going back are for one of your questions, papers beautiful influence during these days. It was definitely strange.

Dorin Vasilescu 18:31
I have mixed feelings about about it. It’s

Dorin Vasilescu 18:38
something that Oh, I wish everyone can see it. I would say it’s better than that. You know, it’s strange. It’s strange and as I said before, it’s strange because you don’t see any danger around you. You know And comparing with probably past five, six years, this year we had springtime, like a real copper one. Exactly. So, you know, seeing everything turning into green, the flowers around Florence, you know, it’s amazing and it’s strange. In probably you you understand what I’m saying? Yeah, you know, it’s hard to explain but

Mark Abouzeid 19:31
well, let’s let’s talk about Florence going forward and your thoughts. I mean, Florence is the aperitivo culture. We live from spring to fall literally every evening cafe outside walking meeting friends Bochy, Bochy, what do you think the impact of extended social distancing is going to have on that?

Dorin Vasilescu 19:58
Oh, hey, I not a paid evil guy, I don’t go too often for a pay table. But instead I buy enjoy my coffees at the bar. Mm hmm. You know, so probably, you can say that easily. The coffee of the day is a thing, you know? So I am very curious about that. Actually. I am very curious how people will react. I’ve just seen it in the first day of March when people were trying to keep a certain distance and not to go too many inside the bar. But you know, it was just probably for funding. Now, it’s for real, it’s for real, and I don’t know how no one knows. Actually. I have some fears that the owners of Boston around the city and they don’t know Yeah, they don’t know because you know, you can do anything they tell you so just go in you take your shot of espresso go out. Yeah. But we all know that that moment in the morning, afternoon LUNCH, DINNER doesn’t matter. Going to the bar, having the coffee days just a social thing to do. So you go to interact, you know to have to change the words with your friends with your body style, which knows Anyone who lives in the neighborhood but it’s hard to say it’s hard to say because

Dorin Vasilescu 21:42
an entire culture has to change because Italy it’s it’s

Dorin Vasilescu 21:50
all around family or on theme together all around the being social and not just talking going close to each other. They like to hug them. They like to kiss one which I know it’s hard. And it’s hard to say what is will happen, although I’ve seen signs that they are cautious and they’re trying to, to respect the rules and the key thing that distance you know, was everywhere there are some exceptions. But since man since the Friday when in Florence started be allowed to go for walking. I’ve seen some videos and some pictures from around the city, that that are not so encouraging. Oh, yeah. You know, but I try to stay positive and think just it was a relief after all those 54 Days of stain the house and people probably needed, which also,

Mark Abouzeid 23:06
yeah, okay, you can understand how your positiveness might be confused by the T shirt that says that’s all folks. I hope

Dorin Vasilescu 23:17
we I hope he’s right. But me, I’m more concerned about what will happen in the next two to three weeks. Okay. If until now, okay, we understood was the problem. We understood that we have to stay inside the entire industry and tourism was close, you know, in our way we understood more or less, and we did.

Dorin Vasilescu 23:47
The problem now is that

Dorin Vasilescu 23:51
we want to start walking again. We want to put everything to open our businesses to you No, to live our lives normally. And from my point of view a little bit too soon. Yeah, it’s a little bit too soon because we’re just right there where the numbers and I’m you know, we’re talking about numbers, although our people lives involved are still high and are still there. Were just there. Yeah. And after all this slog down if and I try not to be pessimistic if the second wave will come, I really don’t know if we can put everyone else back in the house or shut everything down again. And that will be a disaster. Yeah. And that’s why I’m hoping with this small

Dorin Vasilescu 24:55
freedom that we have now.

Dorin Vasilescu 24:59
I’m hoping that Everyone will respect that and will do their best to keep it like that and not to forget what why they stay in the house for so many days. Because you know the the short memory and when bad things happen to you and we usually try to forget very fast. This is another time I this is my point of view. It’s not the time to forget what happened and

Dorin Vasilescu 25:36
we’re still in the middle of it.

Mark Abouzeid 25:38
A lot of people tried different things in lockdown a lot of people were crazy. What’s, what’s the most fun or the most different thing you didn’t lock down? What did you do that you would never usually do?

Dorin Vasilescu 25:53
Well, as you know, we are not part of posting too many things online about us about You know our daughter into

Dorin Vasilescu 26:03
because of you? We

Dorin Vasilescu 26:10
lockdowns mile hashtag we posted some things. Yeah we we try to, as I said we try to keep it as normal as we could. And we always enjoy our time together and we try to do creative things. Yes, we used to visit our friends that are artists, you know with our daughter so she can be inspired or you know at least to see the artistic world that we are in and we pin on where we have to compensate that so we just start doing the things inside the house. We are lucky that she has big imaginations and she’s asking a lot of things We are lucky that we know to do some things. And we can improvise if we if we can’t. And yeah, we’ve done a lot of food dancing, you know, drawing these building airplanes from what we had in the house.

Dorin Vasilescu 27:20
Hey, babe.

Dorin Vasilescu 27:22
Before, it was nice,

Mark Abouzeid 27:24
I watched yours and I watched it regularly and it made me smile every time because it just felt like you were allowing us to look inside without performing for us. This is just oh,

Dorin Vasilescu 27:39
no, no only, let’s say social media post that was a little bit directed. Let’s say it was the video that we’ve done. You know, for for the hashtag for you don’t want to ask. Okay, let’s do something dancing.

Mark Abouzeid 27:57
That’s great. Is there anything else you want to leave? Are we?

Dorin Vasilescu 28:01
Oh, no I was I said I’m hoping that everyone will not have a short memory.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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