Arti & Markha

Venue: Sofia Hotel Balkan

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Philipp Kirkorov – Snow (

After two weeks of hibernation in the freezing Bulgarian winter it is finally time for a new post. And for a change the photo-focus in this post will be actually on a male model, Arti (Artiom). His girlfriend, Markha, wanted to have a photoshoot of both of them in a fancy hotel room in Sofia. The secret extra mission I had was to mostly focus my attention on Arti as Markha wanted to make him a birthday present by selecting her preferred photo and converting it to a nice painting. So I tried to not only take group photos of the two of them but also make Arti pose for some photos solo. I was greatly helped by my assistant in this photoshoot, Katia, who had lots of nice and fun ideas about the positioning of the objects and models.

The room Markha decided to hire for the photoshoot was in the most iconic hotel in Sofia, presently known as Sofia Hotel Balkan. It was built in the socialist period of the country and was by far the most fancy hotel in Bulgaria back in the day, hosting all the official guests of the state. It is of course right in the centre of Sofia, just next to the houses of the parliament and the prime minister and president. And the view is towards the St. Nedelya square and the old orthodox church with the same name.

The view from the hotel room.

And even if the hotel room was (understandably) slightly outdated for the present day standards, I think it still provided the classy look we were going after as a background for the photos which I decided to show you interchangeably in color and in black and white.

This is at the start of the photoshoot with some classy clothes to match the setting.
And some improvised poses around the chair.


Here a shot of Arti only, who here reminds me a bit of his compatriot Putin.

Now that I mentioned Russia, I have to tell you more about the very interesting story of Arti and Markha. They are both of Russian origin, but were actually raised and live in Bulgaria. Artiom was raised in Burgas, while Markha in Varna – the two main seaside cities in Bulgaria. Eventually they both came to live Sofia, where Arti is pursuing a career in the show business. He is actually somewhat famous already as he participated very successfully in the Bulgarian version of the X factor show (which I have to admit I only learned afterwards) – for example you can see his first performance on the show (in Bulgarian): ( And apart from his musical talent Arti clearly has the looks of a model so he was an equal match to Markha who has already posed for quite a few photographers in Bulgaria on various occasions. So now that you know their story, I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of our photoshoot.

Here I managed to get a nice shot of Arti for the secret mission that Markha gave me. But in the end the winning phot she chose is another photo…
This one, paradoxically! Clearly not my best shot, but of course the artist that made a painting out of it just drew Arti with his happy smile and filled in the rest of the church on the place of the spot from the curtain on the left.
Of course at the time we were trying to make as many nice photos as possible…
..and we tried various less standard ideas…
as in this photo with Markha crawling on the table in front of Arti..
and with Arti pretending to be a waiter serving coffee.
Of course we also tried the bedroom with its dark red curtains.
Yet another shot for my secret mission.
Here we decided to switch into a more casual outfit and change the mood.


There was also time for some fun smartphone shots where Arti was pretending to be swallowing the lights from the busy street traffic below.
The evening came and Arti found a very cool hoodie in his bag..
which made him look like Batman, watching over the city…no?
We also tried to use the lamp as a microphone, but unfortunately I could not record the singing of Arti to show you the full performance.


We went on changing settings and roles under the guidance of Katia who kept inventing scenes…
like the one where Arti is supposed to be violent..
or where they both look very seriously away from each other.
And sometimes there’s no need for staged photos and one has to leave the models act naturally keeping them well-lit. By that time they were quite tired so it was time call it a day and go for dinner.

39 thoughts on “Arti & Markha

  1. wow- very wonderful project – I was a little tired of their gorgeousness by the time the post ended- ha – half kidding – but this photo shoot is fantastic. I have some favs – and love the clothing choices and the hotel is a great setting. Enjoyed the back story too… like the secret mission and the Xfactor there….

    Liked by 2 people

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