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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nikola Borissov: Master Of The Wanderlust

Fashion and beauty from world traveler Nikola Borissov

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"Currently, I use a Hasselblad H4D-40 with 28mm, 80mm, 210mm and 35-90mm lenses," he says. "This covers my needs perfectly. At the beginning, I was missing the speed and lightness of 35mm digital, but I adjusted my style of shooting. Slowing down made me think more. It's a completely different approach, more mature. Besides the difference in image quality, being a location photographer, I need the ability to sync the flashes at higher speeds without losing power, and 35mm can't offer me that. I'm currently in the market for a medium-format film system. I decided to opt for a Hasselblad 2003FCW, plus a 110F and a couple of CF lenses—that would give me extreme flexibility with the choice between focal and leaf shutter, and no electronics whatsoever.

"For my street photography, I use a Nikon FM2n, plus a 20/3.5 pre-AIS, 50/1.4 and 135/2.8. Love that outfit—it's extremely compact, rugged and versatile. I don't really have a favorite lens; I just use the one I need in that situation. As for lighting, I sold my flashes; it's almost impossible to lug them around when you travel. Now I just rent. As a whole, I've never been very interested in the technical part of photography, and I'm consciously trying to stay even further away from it now and focus on what's important."

His more personal work also includes reportage and street photography. "I love people's faces and stories," he explains. "That's what got me into photography in the first place. I'd never do street photography commercially—it's a piece of me, very personal and not for sale. On the other hand, fashion is all about creating worlds and visualizing stories, fantasies and emotions, and I love that, as well. At the beginning, I was convinced that everything in photography should mirror reality, so I didn't have a high opinion of fashion photography. I was seeing it as something fake and superficial, and that was a problem. But when I realized that as a form of art it shouldn't be connected to reality at all, I changed my perspective and started appreciating and loving it. It freed my imagination, and now I'm determined to explore it and discover what's there in my head. I firmly believe that one shouldn't follow styles and trends, but be themselves instead and pour their inner world into what they do. This is what makes us all unique and different. And this is why some are successful and others struggle to keep up with copying the next trend du jour."

Borissov points out ironically that you can tell a lot about a photographer's character by looking at his or her work while conflictingly describing his own personality as chaotic and emotional. His work, of course, is the complete opposite. Borissov's subjects are elegant, evocative and seductive, posed gracefully against expansive wide-angle backdrops or intimate, intricate interiors. "I'm chaotic, contrasty and emotional," he says, "always on the extremes and never in the middle. So I guess that filters through in my photographs. I love and admire strong women, and have always thought that a majestic, minimalistic landscape is the most appropriate backdrop for them, away from any signs of human activity. That's why I love deserts so much—they're the perfect location. Even when I photograph in crowded places, I always try to isolate the subject as much as possible. I guess it's me being an introvert misanthrope that shows through."

Working on the international market certainly has its challenges, but Borissov is characteristically upbeat about the objectives he faces. "Things are changing, all the paradigms in the industry are shifting, but I believe there's more work now than ever before; it's just that there are many more photographers and videographers, especially at the low end of the spectrum. But you get what you pay for, as with everything else, and the top end of the spectrum seems to be thriving better than ever. The luxury market is exploding, so I don't really see all this recession everybody is talking about. It's a change, and we have to adapt, business-wise and paradigm-wise, with the convergence of stills and video. The problem with that is that every photographer got a 5D Mark II and started believing that, 'Voilà, I'm a director now.' It's not that simple; most of the so-called 'fashion videos' I see online are complete rubbish, with no storyline or anything cinematographic about them, besides a pretty girl caressing her face in slow motion. Having a video-capable camera doesn't make you a cinematographer; the ability to tell and visualize stories does. The tools don't matter.

"Fascinating and exciting times," Borissov continues. "One can easily switch between different visual languages and tools—film, digital, video, whatever. And the established photographers are doing exactly that—being flexible. It's merciless survival of the fittest out there, evolution—adapt and evolve, or die. So you'd better be flexible and unique. The one big, enormous problem is that photography has been tremendously devaluated as a form of expression and visual language—now people tweet vintage-looking pictures of their lunch and kittens and so on. But it is how it is, and we have to adapt."

You can see more of Nikola Borissov's work at www.nikolaborissov.com.


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