Nikola Borissov, who hails originally from Bulgaria, is only 32 years old, "that period in life when you start realizing who you really are and what you want," he explains. The photographer prefers to think of himself as a "child of the world," however, and with representation from New York to Paris to Milan to Eastern Europe and the Orient, he has already lived and shot in various locations throughout the globe. After having spent 10 years in Milan, he’s currently based in London in preparation to move to New York next year. He agrees that imagery and aesthetics used to be largely affected by geography, but as digital connects us, those kinds of differences are finding themselves mitigated.
"If anything," he laughs, "I would define my eye as ‘vaguely European,’ but it’s a mix really. People travel all the time, so those major area-based differences are slowly disappearing. Of course, there are still some stylistic differences, but they’re much less specific to their original regions now. The baby faces in Asia, the androgynous models in Paris, the commercial girl-next-door look in the U.S., the voluptuous women in Italy—those specifics are still there, but you can also encounter them anywhere else. I’m profoundly convinced that in the 21st century, the stupidest thing one could do is to limit their view of the world within the boundaries of a certain ethnic or geographical entity. No borders; we’re all the same."
Borissov’s biggest challenge to staying mobile is keeping in touch with past clients while coordinating with new ones. Shockingly, in an era of tweets over substance, he chooses to largely ignore social media; instead, he says this is when a good agent becomes a lifesaver. "Truth is, I never know until the very last minute where I’ll go," he explains. "It’s frustrating sometimes, but that’s nothing compared to the life that models lead. They’re literally all over the place. They’ve been everywhere, and it’s much easier for them. The agencies take care of everything. I envy them so much for that.
"I have very mixed feelings about social media," he continues. "I’ve been living and breathing online for the past 15 years, always connected, always online. I’m becoming more and more analog. I’ve chosen a different approach and mind-set. With digital and the Internet, there has been this massive wave of mediocrity in photography and video, of which I was a part, as well, of course. Everybody is suddenly a photographer and screaming for attention from all possible platforms—social media, websites, everywhere. As a result, it’s harder for art buyers to find quality work so a lot of them prefer offline ways of sourcing content providers, even given the tremendous amount of talented newcomers lost in this overwhelming wave. I choose not to be a part of this; now I only have my website, a deviantART profile [borissov.deviantart.com] and a Facebook page [www.facebook.com/nikolaborissovphotography]. I keep it just because I’d like to keep my personal profile exactly that, personal and not related to what I do.
"I’ve deleted everything else, and these three are probably getting the boot soon, too. Things that are easily obtainable aren’t interesting. Very few at the top end of the market take the Internet sensations seriously. The top 20 commercial and fashion photographers in the world are pretty much staying the same, and the very few newcomers to that club don’t have an extensive online presence—in the majority of cases, just a website, and sometimes not even that. I’m aiming for that part of the spectrum, and from a certain point of view, it’s simpler—you just have to be really damned good at what you do, stay focused and have great representatives and contacts."
Borissov only discovered photography as a hobby with a digital compact in 2003, but he soon found that it was a constant sidekick during his adventures. Unconsciously, he found himself taking pictures of everything that he was seeing. After graduating and spending two short weeks working in a bank, in 2006 he quickly decided that he preferred life as a photographer. "It wasn’t me; I wasn’t happy," he explains. "I’ve never been much of a planner. I tried, but my plans always ended up in a total and flamboyant mess, so I woke up one morning and just decided to go with the flow and simply do everything I can to become a better photographer.