Experience our photographers’ unique views on detention by browsing the picture gallery below. These photographers have shared their portfolios with us.
I realized that these rooms represented an institutionalization of love, a cancellation of tenderness
I started photographing the intimate rooms in 2008, when I was documenting the everyday life of the Romanian prisoners in Aiud for my photo album, Bumbata.
Once Romania joined the European Union, in 2007, the whole prison system went through a major revamp. The biggest reform was to introduce the right to private visits. Meaning that a prisoner who is married or in a relationship has the right to receive, every three months, a two-hour private visit which takes place in a separate room inside the prison compound.
In 2008 I took the first photos inside the intimate room with an inmate and his wife after their private visit. I realized that these rooms represented an institutionalization of love, a cancellation of tenderness. In this cold space, with information about STDs and safety information hung on the walls, two people meet their loved ones, after months of waiting.
In 2011, I started photographing the intimate rooms systematically until 2014. I photographed the rooms, the absurd details; I filmed the rooms from the point of view of the inmate who was lying on the bed.
The safety checks inside a prison take a lot of time, so I reduced my equipment to a camera, a lens, a SD card and a spare card. Once, a guardian asked me: "What do you need a spare card for?" "In case the SD from the camera is full." "Why can’t you delete some?"
— Cosmin Bumbuț
Cosmin Bumbuț worked as a fashion and advertising photographer for 15 years.
His pictorials were published in magazines like Elle, Tabu or Esquire.
In 2013, he launched Bumbata, an album illustrating the day-to-day life of prisoners in the Aiud penitentiary; the book received awards in the National Design Competition and in the Bun de Tipar Gala. Bumbuț has won several photography awards, including the Sony World Photography Award in 2015, for his project Camera intimă.
In November 2013, Cosmin Bumbuț moved into a motor home with his girlfriend, journalist Elena Stancu, and started roaming to understand modern Romania. They created a multimedia project on domestic violence and a series of articles on prison life in Romania. They lived among the Kalderash Roma in Corcova and filmed a documentary about a young local family seeking its fortune in landfills in France. The film gained awards in several festivals, including TIFF, Docuart, Urban Eye and the Millenium Film Festival in Brussels.
In 2017, they published their book Acasă, pedrum [At Home on the Road] (Humanitas), about their travels in the heart of Romania.