Back in 2011, I decided it would be a nice keepsake to make a small photobook of my favourite images from those I had taken that year. I continued the practice for four years and then, in the year end rush of 2015, the idea was overlooked. By the time I was well into 2016 my enthusiasm had dissipated so the idea died.
I won’t be reviving the idea for my 2018 photos because I have already made photobooks covering this year’s travels to Hong Kong, Myanmar, the Kimberley in Western Australia, Portugal, Romania, Germany and Dubai. However I thought it would be a good idea to try and choose from the many photos just one which I like above all others. I decided this had to be a photo which says a lot about where it was taken.
After downloading the many 2018 photos in my Lightroom library, I carefully looked them over and eventually concluded that this picture of the Romanian family was my choice as Photo of the Year.
Getting in position
It was taken late on a September morning on a back country road in northern Romania. I saw the wagon with the family and the trailing bullock from about a kilometre away. I overtook them and then looked out for a suitable location. I pulled off the road and walked rapidly down the hill to get into a position where the hills were visible, the road went into the distance, part of the village could be seen and, as a bonus, the crucifix statue would be in the shot. It would have been nice not to have the wire strung across the road, but that’s how the cookie crumbled. I checked the settings of the Q and then waited for the wagon to arrive. Just a few minutes. I only one chance to grab a shot when all the elements of the photo were aligned. What you see is the result.
The wagon looks ancient and having the bullock trailing behind and in the shot is a bonus. The horse looks like a faithful servant. The mother and father look as if they have a very tough life. The man with his cigarette, thoughtfully held away from his wife and children, looks particularly sad and somewhat hostile. I cannot blame him. Here’s this tourist with his smart clothes, shiny car and fancy camera taking a photo of his family. If I were in his position I’d be thinking life is not at all fair — or worse. The two children look happier, thank goodness. Hopefully they will be able to escape their hard life in the future.
I hope this explains why this is my personal photo of 2018. I will be making a big framed print of it to put on my wall to remind me both of Romania and how tough life is for many people there and elsewhere.
For those who are interested the photo was taken on the Leica Q at 1/400th sec at f/4.0 and ISO 100. I processed it from the DNG file.
You can find more from John Shingleton at The Rolling Road and on Instagram at therollingroad.