Petrut Calinescu


Petrut is a documentary photographer and videographer based in Bucharest. After doing a Bachelor in Journalism and Media, he worked as a photographer for the main newspaper in Bucharest before quitting to concentrate more on personal projects.

The first major project - 'Pride and Concrete' - which looks at the displays of newly gained wealth amongst migrant workers who have returned to their rural communities, involved four years of photographing and filming in Romania and Paris. With the help of the World Press and Robert Bosch Foundations, Petrut produced a photo story, a short film, a book, a website and a travelling exhibition that was featured in Bucharest, Negresti (in the middle of the documented community), Berlin and London.

His second long-term project - 'Black Sea' - has taken him to countries all around the sea and been partially financed with a grant from the German Martial Fund. Having grown up in Constanta, on the shores of the sea, Petrut has a fascination with the strange mix of holidaymakers and localised tensions and conflicts that have punctuated the past couple of decades in the region. 'Black Sea' is an ongoing project and Petrut continues to travel whenever possible. A selection of images is viewable at

Petrut work has been published in magazines and newspapers around the world - from the Sunday Times Magazine and Businessweek to the New York Times, VICE and Esquire. He has also worked for corporate clients such as Orange, Wella International, Ericsson, Renault and Discovery Channel.

Petrut has won a number of awards, including a documentary award at the Humanity Photo Awards in China, supported by UNESCO and an Honourable Mention at the China International Press Photo award (CHIPP) in 2015.


Living on the edge

Barcelona Residence, American village, SoHo Apartments and Mediterranean Court - these are some of the ambitious names given to host of new residential developments on the outskirts of Bucharest, the capital of Romania, one of the poorest countries in Europe. Almost 30 years after the fall of the communist regime, the country is still striving toward a Western standard of life and the trappings of a capitalist economy. Over a two year period Panos photographer Petrut Calinescu, a resident of Bucharest, explored the periphery of Bucharest, watching the city grow, seemingly without any building regulations or discernible planning guidelines. Entire residential developments were rising out of the ground without access to running water and electricity, at the end of dirt roads without pavements.

The city’s periphery is a collection of microcosms, many crafted to perfection, but completely isolated from the rest of the city without public transport and lacking in basic facilities like shops and doctors’ surgeries. “I’ve been watching a generation struggle - like in a fairy tale where the protagonist has to cross frozen lands, encounter witches, kill wild beasts and befriend strange creatures - all just to reach the mystical goal of ‘living a Western lifestyle’” Petrut says.



Life is tough in Makoko, a sprawling slum of some 85,000 inhabitants, built on stilts into the putrid waters of Lagos Lagoon in Nigeria. The fish in the lagoon is dying, there is no electricity or running water and raw sewage laps at the floors of many dwellings. Yet these concerns pale into insignificance in the face of the greatest threat to this 200-year-old community - the threat of eviction. Makoko sits atop some of the most expensive real estate in Nigeria's thriving, chaotic commercial capital and developers are lining up to build luxury residential complexes on the waterfront.

The modern-day slum grew out of an old fishing village beyond the reaches of the city. But in recent years, Lagos has mushroomed into Africa's biggest city with a population estimated to be over 20 million. Somehow, Makoko has remained untouched by the breakneck development occurring all around it in downtown Lagos. The city authorities refuse to recognise the huge web of interlinking clusters of slum houses as a legitimate settlement and have therefore withheld basic services such as electricity, water, schools and hospitals from the community.

Assisted by local vigilante groups, the baale (or chieftains) of Makoko make decisions for the running of the community to ensure law and order and private enterprise takes care of the rest. Like any other neighbourhood, Makoko has private schools, health clinics, traditional healers, restaurants, hair salons, churches, photo studios and tailor shops. Ironically it is water - clean water - which poses the greatest challenge for this floating city. Clean water is available for a fee from local businesses.


The Black Sea ( 2010- 2014, Black Sea Countries)

The Black Sea - mysterious, menacing and mythical - is at the heart of centuries of warfare, turmoil and historical drama. A mixture of totalitarian regimes and young democracies, a melting pot of ethnic minorities, the Black Sea region is a point of convergence for three very different civilisations: European, Asian and Middle Eastern. Regardless of their nationality or social status, almost all the Black Sea people work for entire years with one dream in their minds: to spend a week at its shores. Its waters, shores and inlands suffered massive transformations as all the surrounding countries tried to tame it, to reshape it, to reinforce or to extract its resources.
Besides my solo journey along it's shores, in 2010 I teamed up with a friend and journalist Stefan Candea to circumvent the sea and explore the multitude of cultures and landscapes around it. Our journey took us through Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine and Moldova. Along their way, we passed through a multitude of autonomous republics, some internationally recognized, others stuck in diplomatic limbo: North Karabakh, Abkhazia, Adygea, and Transdnister


The Danube Delta (Romania 2004 - 2008)

At the end of its nearly 2,900 km course, the Danube, Europe's longest river, spreads out into countless tentacles over a huge, watery plain along the border between Romania and Ukraine. The Danube Delta, Europe's second largest after the great Volga Delta on the Caspian coast, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991 and has remained relatively pristine, largely due to its relative isolation from major urban centers and a very thinly spread population of around 20,000.

The Delta's population, which has risen very slowly to its present number from around 12,000 in the 1890s, is a mix of Romanians, Ukrainians, Turks and Bulgarians with smaller entities of Greeks and Lipovians, a group of Russian Old Believers who fled religious persecution in the 18th century and settled here. The main activity fishing, is in decline today. Many of the fishermen left abroad in search of work, while rich people are trying now to buy their land for holiday houses.


Pride and Concrete (Romania, France, 2010- 2013)

Pride and Concrete is a project about the recent transformations occurring in rural communities, especially around Tara Oasului and Maramures in Northern Transylvania, Romania, following decades of migration abroad for work.
One in six Romanians lives and works abroad. Most of the migrants come from rural areas and the money sent back home has irreversibly transformed their native villages. Unlike in the city, where economic competition is a more subtle affair, in the villages’ changes are highly visible and the main street acts as an open stage for ostentatious display.

Book, short film and website can be seen at