“It’s always been very difficult for me to introduce myself. I have been through so many transformations and different environments in my life that I never know where to start and where to end.
Professionally, I’ve been a computer club worker, a musician, an apprentice, a cursory experience as a manager of a small handmade goods business, and currently a software engineer. Interestingly, photography has never been my profession. But it is one of my first hobbies and it has taken root very deeply in me. Right from the beginning I started shooting landscapes and it’s something I love to do. I like to walk in nature and look for beautiful moments and views. Of course, I don’t limit myself to landscape photography, I also shoot portraits, and sometimes I try conceptual photography as well.”
What is Vitosha (mountain near Sofia, Bulgaria) for you?
Escape. It sounds pretty dramatic, but it really isn’t. Vitosha is a wonderful mountain with so many layers. One can very quickly separate from the city everyday life and enjoy the nature there. She is a true source of inspiration and peace. It’s also a very interesting subject from a photographic point of view – there’s a lot of history in it that continues to build. And in winter, Vitosha turns into a very different mountain, which hides a lot of beauty and many secrets.
Tell us an interesting occurrence from your wanderings in the mountains
I don’t know if I can call it an occurrence or rather an experience. In general, my climbs on Vitosha in the winter require a certain amount of planning, checking the weather and conditions. For the specific day, the weather forecast was slightly cloudy, without a very strong wind and generally quite good conditions for a pleasant walk in the winter mountains.
I get up early, travel to the location I had planned to shoot, and everything was wonderful. I strap on my splitboard and start climbing. The weather was exactly as predicted…for about thirty minutes. Suddenly there was fog, wind and light snowfall, which together with the wind drove the snowflakes into my face like needles. Of course, I didn’t make it to the planned location. The mountain made it clear that today was not the day.
I started to descend back down and after ten minutes the weather changed abruptly again. The fog lifted, the wind stopped, the snowfall continued, but now it was light and pleasant like in a movie. I didn’t have time to go back up, so I decided to stay a while and rest before finally deciding that I was going down.
Suddenly, landscapes from nowhere began to slowly unfold around me: stones with beautifully frozen snow on them, trees with fallen branches, Christmas trees rising under the rising mist, and all kinds of winter scenes that I knew I could hardly see again in such conditions.
It was one of those experiences where nature shows you that your plans don’t really matter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop for a moment and let nature plan.
What is photography to you? What does it give you? And does it take anything and what?
Photography is an escape for me again. Again, it’s not that dramatic. Photography gives me a means to express myself in a different way. As a musician, I have never been able to express myself through music. I think I do better with photography. Photography allows me to capture moments, but also to make art, to express my idea, to show the world things as I see them.
What does it give me? Art gives a lot! I don’t think anyone can put into words how much that is and what exactly it is. The occupation itself and the creative process frees the mind and allows you to forget about all your problems, and then deal with them in the best way. I don’t know how this happens. It is a part of man and art and both go hand in hand.
Every art takes. It takes your time, it takes your energy, it takes your consciousness, it takes your focus and many other things. It’s a law: when you want something, you give something else. The good thing is that when you do it for yourself, these things don’t matter much.
Tell us what kind of child you were and your most vivid childhood memory
A child as a child, running, games, walks with friends and lots of mischief. I can’t say I have the most vivid memory.
If you could have a superpower, what would you choose? How would you use it?
I don’t want to have superpowers. It’s quite romantic to think that superpowers are something that can save or help. The collection of small inner forces, urges and passions are what I believe propel a person forward and help them be their best self at that particular moment.
What is your personal philosophy on life?
There is no specific philosophy. I try to be sincere, be myself, be positive and take care of the people closest to me.
What would you change in the world?
They are so many things worth changing. Maybe if it’s one, it would be fear. I think that because of the fear in people, a large part of the troubles and bad things that happen around us are born. If we were a little more fearless, we would dare to change and be better than we are.
Tell us something about yourself that no one or few people know
Few people know that at one period of my life I had given up photography as a hobby and stopped practicing it. However, my wife decided that she would give me a surprise gift – a photography course, where the passion returned in full force.
Where do you look for and find inspiration?
In my family, in nature, in my loved ones, in everything that somehow touches me.
Recommend us a book/movie?
Star Trek. I’ve been rediscovering this series for a while now. I’m generally a sci-fi fan, but the reason I like the show and the movies at the moment is the several utopian concepts in the plot, the relationships between people, races and different ideals. These things really have nothing to do with science fiction, but they are heavily represented in the script and the characters. From a purely photographic point of view, it is also very interesting. One can observe how different formats have been used over the years – from square to the standard 4:3 and then 16:9 and how they affect the viewer. One can also explore how colors are used to convey emotions, how effects and skillful use of light create illusions of other worlds.
Who is the photographer you admire the most? Why? What is your favorite photo of him and why?
Sebastião Salgado. Most likely a photographer would say that I am totally influenced by a photographer like Michael Kenna or someone in the minimalist realm. But the truth is, I’m a big fan of Salgado. His photography is again minimalistic, but nevertheless he manages to put enough information into the image and show the viewer not only the subject in the scene, but also skillfully uses compositional techniques to tell a whole story that is happening in front of his lens. And all this to be minimalistic.
To say which is my favorite photo is a very difficult task. He is a photographer with such a large portfolio that it is hard for me to say which one would be my favorite. At the moment, a picture from his Antarctic series comes to my mind and some penguins perfectly lined up and coming down the ice, and at the end of this line a penguin is caught in the air just before diving into the icy waters. There is both contrast in the shot, lots of texture from the glacier, lots of shapes that stand out and are very well balanced to make the subjects stand out. Despite all the elements in the frame, it is minimalistic and shows just as much as it needs to tell the viewer a whole story.
What is the best advice you have received?
I don’t remember from whom and where I heard it – “Walk slowly and look in all directions”. It’s really a pretty basic tip, but it works very well. Even if you don’t have a camera in your hand, walking around and looking at the world around you helps a lot. Not only for photography, but also for your perceptions of the world and everything that surrounds you.
Ask yourself a question and answer…
Какъв е най-големият ти успех?
My family is something I am very proud of. I enjoy spending time together with my wife and our 4-year-old daughter. Right now they are my biggest inspiration and I try to be close to them.
You can find more about Yanko here:
Facebook: Yanko Dzhemerenov photographer
Author: Villy Goutova