Holbav – a trip into the past

holbavI finally got a chance to shoot what I wanted, the way I wanted in a small Transylvanian village called Holbav. That’s where the photo of me in the oxen cart was taken (last post).

Though Holbav is only about 20km away from Brasov (the region’s largest city) it is a world away in terms of everything else.  Not much would have changed here over the last 100 years or so. Incredibly, there is still no electricity, no running water and none of the other comforts taken for granted in the “modern” Europe. In other words in many ways the village is representative of what a lot of Romania must have been like a long while ago. This is exactly what I wanted to photograph.

My time in Holbav, though very short, was intense. There are times when I want to limit what I know about a place. I think not knowing helps me to be open to only the positive aspects and to concentrate purely on my photography. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case here.

It’s a long story not worth getting into on the blog, but the bottom line is, I found out too much. That the place is not perfect, that life there is hard and the hardships sometimes have a negative impact on people, naturally. Though my experience was 99% great, being aware of the brute, savage and cruel qualities that occasionally come out of the local population was not something I wanted.

In any case, here are some images from this fascinating village.

hay-collectingDominicu collecting hay, which had been drying for a couple of weeks prior.

tony-workin Tony packing hay for winter storage.

oxen Ioan and his oxen. Apparently they are pretty old. Ioan used voice commands and beat the crap out of them to get the desired results. It was often a pitiful scene, which is better communicated through video, which I also made, but cannot share until I reach a fast internet connection.

old-man I don’t remember this old gentleman’s name, though I met him twice. He was a lovely fellow, but sure looked like he was drinking a lot, the second time I saw him.

kerosene-lampNo electricity means that kerosene lamps. replace light-bulbs. Here Ioan hangs the lamp on one of the few hooks that exist around his house.

Next stop – Maramures – supposedly it’s a photographer’s paradise in many ways. We’ll see. 🙂

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16 Responses to “Holbav – a trip into the past”

  1. C. Wade Says:

    Ah, I would love to photograph these areas of Romania! These images are wonderful, especially of the man [who was drinking a lot] and the first landscape. Wonderful to see through your eyes.

  2. Enche Tjin Says:

    The first landscape image is superb. I wish I was there. It is like painting but it is real.

  3. henry Says:

    Great blog. I teach on a few Photography Holidays around the world and I’ll definitely be recommending this blog to my students who are always asking me about good photography sites!

  4. mathew hughes Says:

    That first landscape is stunning.

  5. Srinivas Bobbili Says:

    fantastic portrait of the drunkard man…..excellent…

  6. Andrew Gould Says:

    What a wonderful series. I’ve found my way here via your website, where I was looking at your superb India shots. Very inspirational, indeed. Must go to India.

  7. Silvereyed Says:

    The lighting in the portrait of the man with the cup is astounding!

  8. breadtobeeaten Says:

    Absolutely great. I think you ought to come to Armenia and take a few shots!

  9. mbconsulting@live.com Says:

    Beautiful pictures!

    Why only rural areas??? There are poor person, sade faces. the views are exceptional but please also reveal happy faces.

    In rural areas are wonderful events like celebration of a new born, weddings, Christmas parties when people are a little bit happier.

    Once again, please visit cities like Timisoara, Cluj, Brasov, Tg. Mures and Bucharest to see another face of Romania.

    Finally, Thanks for making well known Romania.

  10. all romanians are vampires Says:

    hi mitchell,
    thank you very much for sharing this. and a kind request: we’d like to post a link to your Romania posts on our website, and would like to illustrate it with the first picture from this post. do we have your permission?
    thank you in advance!

  11. Romania through the eyes of an Australian photographer « All Romanians are vampires Says:

    […] to check out his previous two articles too, the one on Holbav, a forgotten Transylvanian village, here, and some introductory impressions […]

  12. matrioskasadventures Says:

    wonderful images, you caught the very essence of this place!

  13. Constantin Says:

    Yes, the people in Holbav lack the comforts of modern world but they have a great heart!
    This is part of our national heritage and, as you liked it, may others like it as well that’s why Romania must concentrate on developing rural tourism.
    Your photos are great!

    Constantin from Brasov, Romania

  14. Kim Sinton Says:

    Beautiful photographs, I have always wanted to shoot this kind of photography my self and seeing your work is great inspiration.

  15. Lorena Says:

    Thank you for this lovely pictures! I grew up in that village and for me it’s the most gorgeous place on earth :)! Very good pics! Do you have some more?

  16. onlycocktaildresses.com Says:

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    I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write related to here.
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