Meeting Irina

A few days ago I had the pleasure of having coffee and sharing a pizza with my friend, Irina. Like me, she’s a Romanian who’s been living in London for almost as much as I have…about 10 years. In UK people know her as Dana Popa, a talented photojournalist, who’s had successful photo exhibitions on contemporary social topics, with a particular emphasis on human rights.

I’ve known Dana for a long time. We were both born in Bacau, Romania, one year apart; we went to the same university in Bucharest ( Faculty of Journalism & Communication Sciences) and we were room mates in London at the time when she started her MA in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism. I remember when she bought her first camera and tools and when she transformed our kitchen in a dark room.

In London she is a well-established photojournalist, who’s had countless exhibitions all over the world. Still, she is the same Irina I’ve always known: modest, delicate, carrying herself with this seeming fragility. Underneath she is one of the strongest persons I have ever known. Every time I meet her, she gives me this feeling that everything is possible. All you need is ask, work like crazy and believe.

We chatted for a while about my life as a mom, her latest exhibition – Europeans. Untouched by Communism– and her future project that is, for now, to stay secret. I found her charming as always, her eyes sparkling when talking about her work; I smiled to myself – I couldn’t help it, since I had heard it all before – seeing her worried as ever about an imminent failure, due to lack of resources or sources for her current project.

I believe her trials and tribulations are like a leit motiv, the thing that keeps her going through the whole process; it’s part of her charm. Obsessed with details and doing the job the best way she knows, her photos have to be perfect, regardless of the subject and circumstances.

At some point during our meeting, a proper flood broke and I had to rush back home, put my son to sleep and start writing this blog post. But I could have stayed on that restaurant verandah and listen to her for hours. Through the whole afternoon I had that feeling of needing to hang on to those precious moments. I was really happy to see her and hear she was doing so well.

We promised to keep in touch and try to see each other more often. I also asked her to let me interview her in the near future. Because Irina is one of the main reasons I have created In my early days working as a journalist in Bucharest, I enjoyed interviewing and writing about people that I felt had a compelling story to tell. The “Unfamous People” category is dedicated to these stories. I look forward to having Irina as my first guest.

Until next time, peace and love!


P.S. You can read more about Irina’s work here.



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