Picturing World Cultures: Daniel Rosca - Romania

03/07/2024Link0

There are many different ways to look at culture, and today we take a geographic approach to distinguish people who live in rural mountain and hilly settings from those of the wider plains and urban areas.

Above photograph © Daniel Rosca

Our focus is the country of Romania, where we’ll explore the rustic landscape of small farms, hand-tilled fields, and local communities that still identify with the working methods and traditions of the past. Along the way, we’ll follow the cyclical work of farmers and shepherds, gain insight into the Orthodox faith, explore vibrant holiday celebrations, and reveal unique rituals with pagan roots.

In this fourth installment of our monthly series, Picturing World Cultures, we speak with Daniel Rosca, a Romanian photographer and travel guide specializing in photographic, cultural, and genealogical tours.

As a child, Rosca experienced the age-old traditions of rural Romania firsthand during time spent on his grandparents’ farm. Following university studies, he spent four years abroad, working in youth development, consulting, and corporate social responsibility. After living in Brussels, Warsaw, Istanbul, and Cairo, and traveling to another 40 countries on four continents, Rosca decided travel should become his full-time job.

He chose to return to his homeland, in 2011, where he founded Romania Photo Tours and True Romania Tours, to help curious travelers immerse themselves in—and capture images of—old-world Romanian culture.

In summary, to quote the motto of his photo tour site: Veni, Vidi, Click!

If you haven’t already listened, check out all of the episodes of our Picturing World Cultures podcast series here.

Guest: Daniel Rosca

Bucovina region: Women dressed in traditional wardrobe carrying traditional breads.
Bucovina region: Women dressed in traditional wardrobe carrying traditional breads.
Maramures region: Celebrants in traditional “Brondosi” costumes, which is worn around Christmas time.
Maramures region: Celebrants in traditional “Brondosi” costumes, which is worn around Christmas time.
Maramures region: Man dressed as a devil, ready to participate in the traditional religious theater Viflaim (Bethlehem) performed over Christmas.
Maramures region: Man dressed as a devil, ready to participate in the traditional religious theater Viflaim (Bethlehem) performed over Christmas.
Maramures region: A devil character from the religious theater Viflaim (Bethlehem) posed next to an elderly villager.
Maramures region: A devil character from the religious theater Viflaim (Bethlehem) posed next to an elderly villager.
Maramures region: Blessing of food outside a wooden church on Easter day.
Maramures region: Blessing of food outside a wooden church on Easter day.
Maramures region: Religious procession during a midnight mass for Easter outside a wooden monastery.
Maramures region: Religious procession during a midnight mass for Easter outside a wooden monastery.
Maramures region: Young girl in traditional dress attends Christmas mass.
Maramures region: Young girl in traditional dress attends Christmas mass.
Maramures region: Farmers piling up a haystack by hand.
Maramures region: Farmers piling up a haystack by hand.
Maramures region: Farmer smoking pork meat before Christmas.
Maramures region: Farmer smoking pork meat before Christmas.
Maramures region: Group of potato harvesters working in the field.
Maramures region: Group of potato harvesters working in the field.
Maramures region: Men dance at a traditional wedding celebration.
Maramures region: Men dance at a traditional wedding celebration.
Transylvania region: Farmers transport hay by horse cart.
Transylvania region: Farmers transport hay by horse cart.
Transylvania region: Old gypsy man posed in front of stacked wood.
Transylvania region: Old gypsy man posed in front of stacked wood.
Transylvania: Group of gypsy coppersmiths with their wares.
Transylvania: Group of gypsy coppersmiths with their wares.
Transylvania region: Shepherds with their flock in springtime.
Transylvania region: Shepherds with their flock in springtime.
Transylvania region: Shepherd and guard dog with grazing flock in autumn.
Transylvania region: Shepherd and guard dog with grazing flock in autumn.
Moldova region: Men dressed in traditional attire for New Year’s celebration.
Moldova region: Men dressed in traditional attire for New Year’s celebration.
Moldova region: Masked men parade in the streets as part of New Year’s tradition to scare away bad spirits from the past year.
Moldova region: Masked men parade in the streets as part of New Year’s tradition to scare away bad spirits from the past year.
Moldova region: Woman dressed in a bear skin preparing for a bear dance, a New Year’s tradition.
Moldova region: Woman dressed in a bear skin preparing for a bear dance, a New Year’s tradition.
Moldova region: Figures dressed in bear skins walk in the woods, a New Year’s tradition.
Moldova region: Figures dressed in bear skins walk in the woods, a New Year’s tradition.
Moldova region: Photographer Daniel Rosca poses with celebrants dressed in bear skins. Photograph © Michael Andrews, https://www.mandrewsimages.com
Moldova region: Photographer Daniel Rosca poses with celebrants dressed in bear skins. Photograph © Michael Andrews, https://www.mandrewsimages.com

Episode Timeline:

  • 2:07: The blend of various cultures and influences that make up Romanian culture, geographic distinctions between regions based on mountains, hills, and plains, Romania’s historic regions, plus the country’s widespread agricultural focus.
  • 9:41: Common misconceptions about Romania: dispelling inaccuracies about Dracula and Romania’s Communist past, plus Romania’s current strengths in tech, IT, and engineering.
  • 12:34: Special considerations, general and cultural, when photographing people in different regions, making pictures of the Roma, military, or police, plus Romania’s strict policies that prohibit driving after even a sip of alcohol.
  • 17:44: Romanian agricultural traditions of scything, haymaking, horse carts, blacksmiths, shepherding, plus the art of traditional egg painting.
  • 23:24: Forging a human connection with local villagers and craftspeople, etiquette and logistics when making pictures, plus the issue of obtaining model releases for portraits.
  • 30:14: Rosca’s go-to photo gear: Nikon Z6 mirrorless and a 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens, the benefits of carrying a flash, plus recommendations for packing and benefits to traveling light.
  • 34:08: Episode Break
  • 35:10: Romanian Orthodox churches, regional differences in appearance, rules of etiquette and respectful behavior when photographing, plus the many denominations of Orthodoxy, and details about holiday schedules.
  • 44:42: Meaning of the word Orthodox, distinctions between Orthodox and Catholic faiths, plus Romania’s Lutheran heritage, and fortified churches of Transylvania.
  • 47:11: Romanian bear dance festivals of Moldova over New Year’s, the festival’s pagan roots, tips for getting good pictures by interacting and considering the background first, plus other year-end celebrations.
  • 54:20: Romanian Easter traditions, a candle lit in Jerusalem on Easter morning and flown to all Romanian Orthodox churches, breaking the Lenten fast, plus Romania’s little-known focus on vegan foods.
  • 1:00:58: Romania’s Dracula lure, distinguishing true cultural history from the literary myth, useful resources for more background about Romania, plus details about Rosca’s genealogical tours.
  • 57:22: Daniel Rosca answers our Picturing World Cultures Visual Questionnaire.

Guest Bio:

Daniel Rosca is a Romanian photographer and tour guide specializing in photographic, cultural, and genealogical tours. As a child, he spent a lot of time at his grandparent’s subsistence farm and experienced many of the traditions of rural Romania. After university and four years abroad, he realized how interesting rural Romania and its traditions are and decided to return to his native country to help curious travelers discover them, as well.

Before setting down roots in travel, Rosca worked in youth development, consulting, as well as in corporate social responsibility for Microsoft. After living and working in Brussels, Warsaw, Istanbul, and Cairo, and traveling to another 40 countries on four continents, he decided travel should become his full-time job, in the country where he feels most connected. He founded Romania Photo Tours and True Romania Tours in 2011. In summary, to quote the motto of his photo tour site: Veni, Vidi, Click!, where click is not only about clicking the shutter, but also about clicking with the culture.

Stay Connected:

Romania Photo Tours Website: https://romania-photo-tours.com/
True Romania Tours Website: https://true-romania.tours/
Romania Photo Tours Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/romaniaphototours/
Romania Photo Tours Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/touroperatorRomaniaPhotoTours
True Romania Tours Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueRomaniaTours/
Romania Photo Tours X: https://twitter.com/photo_romania
True Romania Tours X: https://twitter.com/TRomaniaTours
True Romania Tours Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/trueromaniatours/
Romanian photographer Sorin Onisor: https://www.instagram.com/sorin_onisor/


Senior Creative Producer and Host: Jill Waterman
Technical Producer: Mike Weinstein
Executive Producer: Bjorn Petersen
Editorial Director: Shawn C Steiner
Theme Music: Gabriel Richards

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