You may have crossed paths with one of Mihail Onaca’s photographs while deep diving down the Instagram rabbit-hole, and we have no doubt his dreamy, moody style caught your eye and held it. His feed plays out like a Wes Anderson film: snapshots of people, places, details and colours in an alternate reality so similar and yet more beautiful and more meaningful than our own. We tracked down the constantly curious visual raconteur and got him to tell us more about his method, his inspiration and life before Instagram.
Tell us a bit about yourself (your job, where you’re from)
Hello. I’m a self-taught photographer based in Transylvania. I was born in Baia Mare, a charming town from the region of Maramureş (Northern Romania). Since 2007, I’ve been living my life in Cluj-Napoca, a bustling city with a glorious past situated in central Transylvania. I studied Theatre and worked as an actor until 2014, when I decided to pursue photography.
How did things get started for you?
I was passionate about photography when I was in high school, but I only really found time for it in 2014, when I took a break from acting. Being really curious about mobile photography, I started exploring Cluj-Napoca and trespassing around every courtyard and hidden alley I could find. I love keeping my eyes open for every detail around me and I’ll take photos of anything that feeds my soul.
What was your life like before your blog and Instagram?
I was always the artsy type, I guess. I’ve been an actor for several years, I have some published short stories, a few quirky drawings, but I probably most enjoy photography out of all. It’s the perfect tool to distort reality, adjusting it to your own imagination.
How has Instagram changed things for you?
Instagram gave me a few amazing travel opportunities and wonderful projects with some of the global brands I love. It has also helped me meet a whole bunch of lovely people, which is probably the best aspect of it. It’s a great app, if you know how to make things enjoyable there.
Favorite place in Romania you like to photograph?
Mărişel Village – a lovely place in the mountains, not too far from the city. This place has charm in all seasons and is perfect for those in search of peace in nature.
You say in your bio that you are constantly curious, how do you foster curiosity in your life?
I am a very instinctual person, if I may say so. I love all things new and I try to keep myself as diverse and active as possible. My photography is never the same. I’m an architecture, people, nature, travel and fashion photographer all at the same time.
Why is photography important to you?
It gets me out of the house, makes me meet people, allows me to see places and moreover it helps me share my vision of what is around me. It is how I express myself – my way of life (at the risk of sounding like a cliché).
What fact about you surprises people the most?
Many people have told me that, before meeting me, they thought of me as moody and dark character, only to find out that I’m actually quite a vibrant and humorous person.
Current favorite Instagram accounts?
@joshua_allen_harris – love his style.
More portraits. I think it’s very important to shoot people.