Interview with Vladimir Karamazov
BIFA 2022 Discovery of the Year, and Winner, 1st Place, Non-Professional Portfolio category, “The Last Inhabitants”
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you come to fall in love with photography?
I’m an actor. For 22 years I have been acting in the National Theater of my country, filming movies, TV series and participating as a presenter in TV productions. For 19 years, almost without a break I was constantly busy with acting work. 3 years ago, I felt that I had to make a change in my life, and I started taking pictures. The photography became my main occupation. I quickly realized that what I do is liked and arouses emotion in people. I found the second stage where I can be creative, but this time not as an interpreter, but as a creator who presents the world the way it excites me.
Q: Could you elaborate on how you took this award-winning picture? What was the main concept and what was your process for creating it?
I live in Eastern Europe. A very beautiful place that also has its dark side. There are villages that were full with life, but now they just disappear. I was told about this village of Kushla that used to have over 500 people living there. What I saw when I went were the last few of them living in the almost destroyed village. Kushla is located on the border between Bulgaria and Greece and getting to it is extremely difficult. The world is changing and in maybe 5-10 years such places will be lost forever. Only photographs will prove their existence. This is part of a big project of mine that will seal the last inhabitants of these disappearing villages. These are people from the past who will remain in the past. But before that happen, I will photograph them.
Q: What does receiving this honor entail for you?
This award showed me that what I do is important and that it excites the others. The emotion is something very important to me especially being able to transfer it through my photography. As an actor, this is my main job, to excite the spectator. I want to do the same with photography. I want not to just take pretty pictures, but to make photography that makes you think, that excites. This award showed me that I was on the right track. And thank you very much for noticing it!
Q: What other photographers’ work, practices, or styles have had an influence on your own?
I have learned a lot from the work of other photographers. Not talking about the subjects, but the way of shooting. I like to realize my ideas and plots by creating everything from scratch – a model, a place, a subject, a way of shooting. Some of the photographers who had inspired me along my way: Milomir Kovacevic, Kenro Izu, Nick Brandt, Julia Fullerton-Batten, Bruce Gilden, Bryan Schutmaat, Muhammed Muheisen, Dan Winters …
Q: Photography is a great medium for communicating various messages to people. What are your thoughts on this tool and how do you use it?
Yes, that’s correct. Quite often I photograph children from the ghettos. In the real life these children would be just passed over, but when I present them in my photographs, when I show their eyes, people start thinking. Somehow the photography becomes a magnifying glass of the problem and thus it is noticed. I really want to make people to think through my shots. I cannot change the World to be a better place maybe, but I try to make people think in this direction, as much as one can.
Q: What difficulties do you think photographers face today?
The biggest difficulty is that in the 21st century everyone is a photographer and all around us are overflowing with photos. Before the Social media, the things were completely different. There wasn’t an ocean of pictures around us. The problem is that 95% of these pictures actually mess around with the taste of viewers. They are examples of bad taste both as subjects and as a way of shooting. The difficulty is to separate yourself from this crowd and become one of those 5% who make art out of photography. You are one of the people that help to make the difference. Your contests separate very well the valued photography from the basic photography and set the trends of good taste.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your projects?
I look for inspiration from my life and from what touches me emotionally. Only when I feel a real emotion, I know that this is my project that I want to work on. Everything in my photographs is dictated by emotion.
Q: What would the setting be for your ideal photo shoot? Do you have any tools or accessories that you must include?
The only thing I care about is people’s eyes. The story they tell. They say that the eyes are the gates of our soul. When I see eyes that tell me a story, I want to photograph them. This is also how I find my models. Sometimes they are random people from the street. I see the person and immediately come up with the story I want to tell with him.
Q: What are your future plans? Are you presently engaged in any intriguing projects that you can share with us?
In the last three months I filmed a TV series in which I’m in the leading role, together with one of the best Bulgarian actresses, which has the female leading role. The whole time I was filming her going through the whole shooting process. This project will be about all the difficulties in this profession. How do the actors prepare for a role, how do they act, how do they live during such a long and complicated process separated from their family. In this project, there will be moments that people do not suspect, there will be moments of extreme emotions, of despair, joy and everything that we actors do, but no one else knows. I have started working on it and it will be finished at the series premier. It will be captured and the brilliance of the premiere, interviews, advertising. I hope that with this project I will open the door to the acting profession and that everyone will take a peek and see what is really happening there.
View Vladimir Karamazov’s Winning Work Here.