There’s an appropriate familial appearance to Lupu’s shots: They’re more candid than composed, more interested in understanding these women as individuals than as anthropological curiosities. In one frame, Lupu captures the women together, sunlit in a field. In another, a lone woman rests in the center, surrounded by large white flowers, and holding a broomstick with a doll at the end. Lupu doesn’t stage her subjects to look any more or less appealing, she simply captures the women as they are. Lupu said she aims to demythologize and destigmatize alternative spiritual practices through revealing practitioners’ humanity. Yet she also hopes viewers will better appreciate Roma superstitions, magical practices, and witchcraft.
In the age of drugstores, Fitbits, life coaches, and ZocDoc, it can be all too easy to dismiss the efficacy of ritual. Yet Lupu trains her lens on the witches’ camaraderie, compassion, and sense of tradition. In her photographs, they look healthier and happier than many an alienated subject of cosmopolitan street photography. “Witches can be our protectors, and witchcraft can help with healing and self-care,” Lupu said. “Practicing witchcraft is a tool for survival—and survival is important for marginalized communities in capitalism.”