MIFA 2021 Winner, 1st Place in People (Non-Professional) – “Muddy Childhood“
Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Vladimir Karamazov has been chasing his dreams his whole life. His passions and aims are dictated by his heart, his intuition has always shown him the right path. An actor first, he plays in the theatre, in cinema and TV productions as well. He has been part of dozens of successful projects. His life was so hectic and intense during these years that he got a bit tired of the rush – he tried to focus on activities that charged him with positive energy, like photography. Two years ago, he decided that it’s time to prioritize this hobby. Ever since then, photography has become the leading passion of his life. Although it was not an easy period as he had to deal with difficult decisions, he is delighted that he made this change. He is still into acting and will always be an actor, but photography is his current love.
Q: When did you discover your passion for photography?
My father has the merit for that. He had set up a makeshift photo studio in an old workshop. He allowed my brother and me to enter this workshop while he was doing the magic of developing photos. He gave us tweezers to shake the paper in the basin with the detergent, and when the image appeared, we were overwhelmed and euphoric. That represents a very bright and wistful memory from my childhood. Since then I always carry a camera with me. For a long period of my life, I was the one to be photographed for magazines, interviews, advertising campaigns… I was not taking photos then. I had time. But as I was watching professional photo sessions, I was secretly learning. How they arrange the lighting, how they use the technique, what they say to the models. I watched and learned.
Q: Tell us a bit more about your winning project and what inspired you to do it?
I love finding interesting and gripping stories. To me, this is the most important and leading factor. For example, I set out to find children who live in poor conditions, photograph them, and thus present them to the public. I travel in my jeep for about a week. I am certain that when people see the eyes of these children in my photos, a lot of good things will happen. A month ago, I did a charity exhibition with twenty shots of children. I donated the money from the sale of these prints to the children’s hospital in Sofia, which needed very important equipment. I raised a lot more money than I expected, so the hospital bought everything that was needed. And that’s what my little models from those twenty photos helped with. The shot with which I became the photographer of the year of MIFA – “Muddy Childhood” was taken by the President of my country. They also asked for a major global project that will fight environmental pollution with harmful gases.
Q: What type of photos do you like to take in your free time?
Since I am used to telling stories as an actor, I try to do the same in photography, and in my free time, I look for such stories. For a few hours, I enter the lives of people who seem interesting to me. I photograph them, their way of life, their habits. The camera is always with me, and quite often it happens that I go to an important meeting, for example, I see something captivating on the road, I go down to take pictures, I don’t feel that time passes, and it turns out I have already missed the meeting and people get angry.
Q: What genre of photography is new to you that you would like to explore?
Underwater photography. It is something I did but on an amateur level. I can think that in the upcoming years I will spend a lot of time underwater taking photos. Diving was my passion as well, and I reached a semi-professional level. I have spent many hours underwater, diving. This skill is very important to me because it will give me the comfort underwater to do only photography. Macro photography is also interesting to me and I have several successes in this genre.
Q: Besides a camera, what do you think are the three most important tools of a photographer?
I put my imagination first. Although there are many beautiful photographs around the world, they often have the same patterns. Queues of photographers crowd in front of famous objects, taking photos of the same thing. To me, this is a sign of a lacking imagination. The essence of photography lies in the ability of guiding the audience to see through the eyes and worldview of the photographer. The second most important factor is patience, and I’m still learning it. The thing is that without patience you can’t achieve anything in photography. And the third is the true love for this visual art, you have to feel the want to do it and love what you do.
Q: How do you know when a body of work is completed?
This moment becomes longer and endless overtime. Whenever I see my photo, I start noticing the small flaws and the things I missed when I shot it. I get fixated on the details and I tell myself that I have to take the photo again. It’s very strange because I see that the photo looks good, but in my head, I’m not done with it yet. And every time I take pictures, I feel a bit stressed because I may miss a small detail and I will not love the final photo.
Q: If it could be anything at all, what would your photography dream project be?
I have some dream projects, I want to make a project with twenty frames, photographing the dramatic life of people living in poverty. I imagined exactly what I would like to capture from their life. I’m quite certain that once seen, these photographs will remain forever in the minds of the audience and will change the thinking of each viewer for the better. I am strongly influenced by Dostoevsky’s work. I am looking for such characters and every day I strive for this project. I guess I will listen to my heart and it will happen, when It tells me.
Q: If you could take one last photo in your life, what would it be?
Through photography, I realized that I love life very much. I love the nature’s light, the water, the sun… I am grateful for life and what it has given me, for your awards that made me very happy. It might not have happened. That’s why for the last photo I would turn the camera towards me and I would take a picture with a big smile. And this should be the photo to remember me with.
Q: Who/what is your biggest source of inspiration?
People’s eyes. It’s a popular saying that the eyes are the doors to our souls. If you learn to see through, you may sense a lot. In my portraits, you can find many “open doors”. I often see the great story in people’s eyes from a great distance.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
Before taking the camera, answer the question: Why do I want to capture? What do I want to show? It is very important. Everything related to the technical parameters of photography is studied. The sophistication and what would set you apart from millions of photographers is what you want to tell. If you answer this question, throw yourself forward boldly. Because
dreams are to be realized, let go of your dreams and fly after them.