Nomination Panasonic Readers’ Choice Award

A special nomination of the Bird in Flight Prize with a winner selected by readers

All nominated projects


Lucia Bláhová, Slovakia

Me and an ethnologist, Ivana Šusterová, have decided to make a fusion between photographic work and an ethnological study. For over four years, we have been researching the world of Romanian Roma women who professionally practice fortune telling and witchcraft. In my photographic collection I try to record the consequences of modernisation, which has inherently transformed this profession, which in itself balances on the thin divide between mysticism and showmanship for the client.

a self-proclaimed queen of white magic Maria Campina. She is one of the most famous witches in Romania. The golden crown is a symbol of prestige for her and in general a golden object is kind of an amulet for the Wallachian Roma people who believe in its magical power to protect them against evil. Her house, Bucharest, Romania, 2014
The sisters. This picture represent the importance of tight family relationship between Wallachian Roma people. It is the same in their work as witches, they prefer family cooperation more than being individualists but only in the closest family. House of their mother also witch Margareta, Bucharest, Romania, 2016
There is a dollar sign in the picture, it is a typical decorative element of their houses. It is an important symbol of prestige, wealth and power, as well, in Wallachian Roma community. I took pictures of their glossy interiors because the witchcraft is also really good business in Romania. House of witch Sidonia, Bucharest, Romania, 2017
The witch Danusia presented herself as the only one who uses white magic because she doesn’t want to hurt others, she believes in God. She doesn’t use spells, only prayers. This is the reason why she poses with her hands in prayer position. I used my flash and television behind her to create a kind of digital halo effect inspired by religious iconography. House of witch Danusia, Ploiesti, Romania, 2017
Every client has to have their head covered by white fabric throughout because they must not see what exactly the witch does around. Witch Atena used my friend Ivana for demonstration of the ritual instead of its description in the interview. Her daughter recorded the whole ritual and after that posted it on her mother’s facebook witch profile. They often used us to increase their own popularity on social networks. The room for clients in the house of witch Atena, Bucharest, Romania, 2017
A doll is usually used as a magical artefact with the ability to regain client´s lost love and at the same time it is used as a toy for their children. House of witch Vanessa, Bucharest, Romania, 2017
The picture shows disbalance between the reality which we have witnessed and what they told us during the interview. Mostly, women said they have been picking flowers in secret places, always in wild nature, far away from civilization, usually during the sunrise. In this picture you can see two young girls who are picking flowers in the yard behind their house in the middle of the capital city. Bucharest, Romania, 2017
There is the potion which is used for love spells on the left side and the potion against charm on the right side. I have been focusing on DIY visuality of these objects and their diversity. House of witch Monika, Bucharest, Romania. 2017
The witches from Margareta Minca’s family performed rituals during the “Martisoare” period near the river on the outskirts of the city. There is a feast called “Martisoare” on March 1, and it symbolizes the celebration of victory of life over death. Winter ends and spring is coming. The clients called them with their problems - mostly relationship problems - and the witches gave them advice, blessed them in the name of God using their Iphones during these night rituals. Bucharest, Romania, 2017
Witches are used to sacrificing an animal – in this case a black hen for removing black magic spells. An evil magic can be taken away from a person and can be moved into an animal, said witch Natalia after the ritual. Bucharest, Romania, 2017
Young witch Monika takes a selfie picture with a cross before the ritual begins during the “Martisoare” period. Bucharest, Romania, 2017
After the "Sanziene" ritual. During the summer solstice period, according to old Romanian tradition, young witches made flower crowns which are enchanted and thrown into the river together with burning candles. This ritual should help other girls find their promised love. Bucharest, Romania, 2017