#interview #CosminBerghean #TMFAward #photography #speleology 

A passion led by audacious dreams, backed up by an impressive attention to details and to the environment best describe Cosmin Berghean – speleologist and both nature and cave photographer.

Bringing each time an original photography contribution, Cosmin Berghean was the big winner of the Transylvania Mountain Festival 2018 Mountain Photography Award and one of the shortlisted candidates for 2019!

We had the chance to meet Cosmin on the occasion fo the festival and we made a little experience exchange, since he is also one of the organizers of SPEOARTA festival. We are honored to present him to you during this interview.

Cosmin Berghean / portrait.

Outdoor photography is for Cosmin Berghean a way of living, “it is the photography that I make totally from my heart, and when you put your heart in what you do it becomes a way of life. The moment when you are behind the lens and you push the shutter button to catch that image that was initially projected on your retina and in your mind, that is a moment that brings you peace, energy and carries you to a world of dreams.

Talking about cave and underground photography, Cosmin Berghean reveals us that there things start to get complicated: “Time factor intervenes – this time that seems to freeze, the hourglass stand still when you are behind the photo camera. Here, in the cave, a major part plays the team, your trusted team who dedicated time to their passion, people who trust you as a photographer to be able to bring to surface that what you have seen in the underground, that what you have directed after setting up the lights in that still world. I thank all my friends at Polaris Association for the support and those incredible hours we have spent in the underground.”

Covanegra Caves, 2017, Spain / photo: Cosmin Berghean

[Diana Ciorba]: What motivates you to grow as a photographer and how are you exploring photography at the moment?

Cosmin Berghean: The passion for photography and self-criticism are my best motivation. If you really want to follow your dreams you will get better and better. Cave photography is my great passion and can challenge you a lot! But, if “you really want it, you can do it!”, you can fulfill your dreams, and you can bring to surface what you are dreaming through photography. Landscape photography remains though, among my favorites, and currently I am also trying out wildlife photography.”

COSMIN BERGHEAN - Aduce la suprafață lumea din adâncuri

Hirlatzhöhle, 2020 / photo: Cosmin Berghean & Georg Taffet

[D.C.]: Which is your favorite mountain sport and why?

Cosmin Berghean: Speleology is and remains my favorite,  if we can call this science a sport, a sport of real character, a team sport. Speleology discovered me because of fear, the fear of the unknown while being a 13 years old kid.  It was 28 years ago, at Scărișoara glacier, when I has the chance to enter the cave, but I did not, I was too afraid; when those who did enter came to surface, some of the toughest feelings of incapability hit me. Since nothing happens by chance, the next day, a delegation from the Polaris Club and a Belgian team arrived at the cave. This time, I did not hesitate at all, I did not even ask my parents, I just went and asked: “will you take me too?” – This is how my passion began. Afterwards, I joined the underground photo sessions of Polaris, where I was the “lights man”, then I went exploring and eventually the day arrived when I could push the shutter button myself in this world of Hades.

I also love adrenaline, therefore a very similar sport is canyoning, which I totally enjoy!

Rainbow, 2017,  Trascău Mountains / photo: Cosmin Berghean 

[D.C.]: As an organizer of a photography art festival, what are your greatest challenges? 

Cosmin Berghean: I’ve been in the organizing team of the SPEOARTA festival with Polaris for seven editions already, and since 2016 we have managed to raise the bar and turn it into a real international event. In the last two years, we have remained only two in the organizing team – me and Ema Marcu, a club colleague, true friend, the friend which whom I make a great team in cave photography. We realized that passion is what drives us to make this a nice festival and to grow year by year, as one can see in the participants number and the quality of the submitted works.  Currently we have participants from 16 countries. Each edition is a new challenge, a challenge for the organizers, a challenge for the participants, a challenge for the sponsors and all those involved, and we hope to manage to organize the  38th edition of the festival, taken into consideration that it is small niche festival.

[D.C.]: How did you find Transylvania Mountain Festival’s approach compared to all that has been made until now in România?

Cosmin Berghean: I found Transylvania Mountain Festival a place where Nature lovers gather, a place where education through art really takes place, a place where people feel good. TMF is organized exemplarily, by people driven by passion. I congratulate you all those involved, from exhibitors, to conference speakers, workshop facilitators, presenters, sponsors – simply put: you are GREAT!

Stars, 2015, Bihor Mountains/ photo: Cosmin Berghean 

[D.C.]: How did you receive the news of being THE winner of TMF Photography Award în 2018?

Cosmin Berghean: I was so glad to learn that I am the great winner of TMF 2018. Unfortunately, I could not be present that time at the festival in Cluj-Napoca. The winning photo is one of my favorites, and it is the most hard-worked, very difficult from a technical perspective.  It is about the portal of the Big Coiba (Coiba Mare) cave, with a starry sky, in winter at -20 Celsius degrees and a speleologist rappelling.  Thank you sp much for the team who helped me realize this photo, the colleagues and friends from Polaris Association, and especially to Ema. This award, and the others that I have won, belong in fact to the team.

Hirlatzhöhle, 2020 / photo: Cosmin Berghean

[D.C.]: How do you think that the photographers community from Romania will be affected by the current situation?

Cosmin Berghean: What is now happening can be seen as a moment of respiro. A time to put in order our thoughts, to think about our wishes, aspirations and goals. A good moment to study, to perfect and become better at what we do. For sure we will get to appreciate much more time, Nature and the true people that surround us, who are there for us. On a professional level I think photographers in Romania should not be very affected, except the event photographers – they are the most impacted ones. I would have also loved to go on mountain ridges and make photos, to hike, but on the other hand I took the chance to make things that I was always postponing, I have read a lot, I have practiced new photography techniques.  I hope and wish to see you again in Nature, regardless of the preferred environment – caves, water, mountain ridges, and for you – TMF – I wish you a 2020 where all your wishes come true!


Thank you very much Cosmin for all the good thoughts and the high quality photography works that you share with us. We follow with great interest you online blog and the underground expeditions.

You are invited and welcomed in the mountain photography competition at Transylvania Mountain Festival.

And, naturally, we welcome submissions of amateur and professional photographers in competition, here.

The interview „COSMIN BERGHEAN – The Phtographer Who Brings To Surface The Underworld.” was prepared by Diana Ciorba.

Cluj-Napoca, 30/04/2020