My name’s Ion Mateș but everyone calls me Johnny. I'm a photographer and visual communicator born in Romania in 1992.
Photography didn't really come to me until I turned 18 and my friends gathered enough money so I could buy a camera. This coincided with a turning point when I wa supposed to "decide what to do with my life". I didn't really have any ideea what that might be so I figured I should just keep taking pictures because it was something that kept me outside and was creative; most importantly, I enjoyed it and figured I should give a shot to something I enjoy.
I spent the next 5 years in the United Kingdom studying. I got my BA in Visual Communication at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. This is where I first experienced actually enjoying sitting in lectures. From everything I learned, documentary photography was what caught my eye so I followed my degree with an MA in Online Journalism. At the same time, I was volunteering as a Photo Editor at Teen Press, a Romanian magazine made by teenagers for teenagers.
They say 24 is when you really grow up and 2016 was chaotic for me. I left the UK and came back home, in Bucharest, only to find I'd been completely out of the loop. Since then, I've been in a sort of self discovery phase, redeciding what being a photographer or journalist means for me. In 2019, I joined Funky Citizens, a Romanian advocacy and civic education NGO. Here, I work as a communications expert and this serves, I think, as a much needed detour that enriches my photography work.
I don't consider myself an artist; I think this label brings with it some limiting attributes. I do view photography as an art form but in the end it's a mean to an end. I always like thinking how photography started as an instrument, something people needed to remember things and others. This much-talked democratic trait is what fascinates me about taking pictures. I've also found it incredibly hard to classify my work or find common attributes between my photo series. Maybe you can do that.