Why do you photograph tribes? Why did you choose “Vanishing Worlds” as a name of your photography project?
This was result of a long process initiated in 2007. At that moment I reallocated to South Korea in pursue of my MBA degree. During this period, I learned to appreciate every moment of my life as well as to have a hobby to inspire me. This is how I developed strong passion for photography. Upon my return to Bulgaria I started to question the ordinary norm of living a life «study - work - retire - live». Gradually the seed in my brain start growing and growing until I became more brave and decided to quit my « good corporate job » and focus on long term photography project. I wanted to do something more meaningful. The more I was thinking about it, the clearer it became. Photography and indigenous cultures encouraged me to be bold. In 2014 I did a test project in Ethiopia, where I did my first voyage in the world of tribes. It was fabulous. After this experience I organized my next expeditions to Papua New Guinea, Mongolia and Morocco. In all these places I lived together with the tribes, in order to get to know them better and deep dive into their culture. Only by doing so, I could capture the tribes with my camera at their best. The life-philosophy of all tribes is very simple and appealing to me. They focus on the family, community wellbeing and happiness. I feel those people represent what is the origin of the modern humans and they can remind us of what are the important things in life to consider. In our society often times we pursue the possession of things and collection of likes/followers on popular social media. We turned into kind of super consumers. Despite the fact we live in hyper connected world, many people feel lonely. Many individuals became aware how fake all those norms are. The project “Vanishing Worlds” is something I do as a freelancer. At the beginning it was a journey about my personal desire. However, with the time it grew bigger. And I felt I should share my experience with others and perhaps inspire people to live differently.
When you visited tribes, have you ever felt threatened?
Yes, there are several cases where my life was at stake. For example, during my first expedition dedicated to tribes in Ethiopia’s Omo valley, the chief of Daasanach tribe wanted to have his portrait picture taken before his wife, who was trying to jump in my frame while I was making pictures of a girl from the village. The chief was drunken at that moment and got super furious. He wanted to kill his wife as well as anybody around him. Literally! At that moment my translator and my guide advised me to forget about the photoshoot and leave the village immediately before the situation escalates further.
Which tribe you desire to photograph most? Why so?
There is one particular tribe living high in the Himalayas on the territory of today’s Bhutan. To get to them requires mountaineering for about 8 days in altitude above 5000m. The more difficult to get to, the better. Besides uncontacted people, I am also very passionate about mountaineering. So, this kind of expedition will combine everything I love and it will be amazing challenge.
How do you choose your subjects?
I am interested in interesting authentic subjects. So getting to know people and their personality is essential for me.
How do you find tribes?
Usually this require long hours of searching on internet, reading books about anthropology as well as talking to friends from all corners of the globe. Frequently local people know best how to approach indigenous people and how to get in touch with them.
What camera and lenses do you use?
At the moment Canon 5D Mark ii + several manual Zeiss lenses. Thankfully, I managed to overtake early in my life the Gear Acquisition Syndrome. My view is that is more important what a photographer can do with a camera than the price of the equipment. I prefer investing in experiences and travel the world than purchasing expensive gear and not having the opportunity to follow my passion.
What flash do you use?
In general, I prefer working with the natural light. However, occasionally I use a single flash – SunPack 120J placed in a softbox to soften the light. (See my pictures from Daasanach tribe)
Do you use Photoshop?
Yes, most of my pictures have settle adjustment of contrast, tonal changes in order to help me guide viewers’ eye to the areas I consider interesting.
What do you think of photography?
For me photography is the process not the final destination and it is a kind of meditation. I adore everything about it. However, there are days that I don’t feel using my camera at all. So, I use those moments to listen to music, read a book or better do something fun with my family and friends.
Are you influenced by other photographers? Please, name few of them.
I am fascinated by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Annie Leibovitz, Joey L, Sebastião Salgado and many others less known photographers. Check the INSPIRATION under my BIO
Do you consider yourself a SOCIAL photographer?
I like taking pictures of people in specific context that reveals subject’s personality or tells a story. So, in a way I am documentary, portrait and social photographer.
Do you take photographs outside of your expeditions?
Yes, almost every day. In 2017 I challenge myself with an old Canon AE-1 film camera from the 1972 loaded with Kodak Tri-X. I used if for a street photography as well as documentary when I travel with my family.