The privileged view – Romania 1992, pt.1

As promised, here are some prints from my Romania Contact sheets

We had stopped in Brașov, Romania, during our trip by train through eastern Europe in 1992. Not far from the flat where we stayed with a local family who’d befriended us at the station, were what I took to be a group of traditional Romany gypsies. It was actually the nomadic living quarters of the Romanian National Circus, encircled by a makeshift wire fence.

The first time I asked if I could photograph one of the members of the circus on the public side of the fence, I was told to clear off in universally understood sign language. But when I noticed a woman washing her child in a plastic bath at the foot of some wooden caravan steps, surrounded by pigs, dogs and chickens, I was determined not to let the opportunity pass by for another day. I gestured to ask if I could come through. To my surprise I was  beckoned in, to photograph a world so different from my own that I’ll remember it for the rest of my life –

Bath timeThe family that invited me in.


Romanian National Circus - children 1Circus children

Circus children

The enduring memory I have of the experience is that the people I met were physically grounded, peaceful and relatively happy. I had not encountered the term mindfulness back then but I remember noticing they seemed at one with the world.

Maybe this was because they had not been exposed to Western materialism so soon after the fall of Ceaușescu – there was a definite air of mindfulness about the place.

Romanian National Circus - circus workerA circus worker who later gave me a gift of a tiny dagger


Romanian National Circus - mother and daughterMother and daughter


It was a hot sunny day and I only had Kodak Tmax 400 film in my camera bag (I hadn’t taken much 100 ASA with me) – Luckily the subjects cried out for gritty black and white.

I love these photographs because they remind me of the privilege we sometimes have, as photographers, of being allowed into other people’s lives, and of being able to share incredible experiences through our pictures.


I’ll be posting more images of life inside the wire fence of the Romanian National Circus camp in the coming days and weeks and some others of ordinary life in 1992 Romania.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse behind the scenes of the Romanian National Circus. Also found in our loft were my travel journals and I am thinking of posting some excerpts from those too.


There are also many more photographs to enjoy in the links at the top of the web page. Please do read the “about” Mindful Photos page for more on the devastating life event that has spurred me on to become a “mindful photographer”.



words and pictures © all rights reserved Miles Pilling

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