Rainy Mainz

Venue: Mainz, Germany

Lens: Samsung S10 camera

Music: Richard Wagner – Tristan und Isolde (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-qoaioG2UA)

Today my post will take you to another historic European place, the university town of Mainz in Germany. In recent times maybe a bit overshadowed in importance by the nearby Frankfurt am Main, Mainz was an important cultural center in the Middle Ages. It was the home of Johannes Guthenberg who invented the printing press and manufactured the first printed books exactly in Mainz. And similarly to pretty much everywhere else in Germany, over 80% of the old historic town of Mainz was destroyed during the second World War. Remarkably however, I think the citizens managed to protect and reconstruct very well the old atmosphere afterwards, as I think will be obvious in the following virtual tour.

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Early spring in Germany can be a rather rainy period, which maybe inspired this nice sculpture?
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A nice residential building, in what I would say is a typical German style.
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The inside of the St. Stephan church, with all the windows made by the famous modernist Marc Chagall.
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Even the organ in the church was in a very distinctive modernist style…
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…but the deep blue windows and the very special atmosphere they create inside the church are really worth seeing even if modernism is not necessarily your thing.
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Moving on to the bigger, or actually the biggest church, the Mainzer Dom. The cathedral of Mainz is also one of the oldest and biggest in all of Germany.
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Another view to the imposing catholic cathedral from the main square.
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Some old houses in the typical German style.
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And here’s another pretty square with a modernist sculture and an old historic building.
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A small detour to the very green and beautiful main cemetery of Mainz.
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Another calm and pretty corner of the same cemetery.
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And back to the historic center with the cobblestone squares, modernistic fountains and pretty houses.
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Some of the squares can be also full of flowers and beautiful blossoming trees in spring.
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But unfortunately the rain kept falling down so our photo-tour stops here, close to the wine-house I found for shelter. I think you managed to get a good grasp of the relaxed and historic atmosphere of Mainz and its unexpected charm.

The rest of Jordan

Venue: Dead sea, Jerash, Jordan river, Amman, Aqaba, Red sea, Jordan

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 & Samsung S10 camera

Music: Coldplay – Everyday Life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wysCoAm2Yo)

The first several days of the new 2020 I got to travel to quite a few other amazing places in Jordan that I’ll share with you here. Although slightly less famous and touristy, I think every place I visited was well worth the travel and in one way or another was truly remarkable. So I strongly recommend to everyone this journey through a really beautiful country full of very welcoming and friendly people. I guess the guys from Coldplay also had a pretty good impression from Jordan, having chosen Amman’s ancient citadel for their latest album’s live performance.

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We start our photo journey from the lowest land point on Earth at -430 metres below sea level. Which is oddly enough also exactly at sea level, or more precisely at “Dead sea level”.  
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Dead sea is in reality a salt lake, and even more precisely a hypersaline lake. You actually float rather than swim, and even if the water seems completely nice and normal at first (and the temperature was 26-27 degrees on 1st January, just perfect!) it feels like you move through a sort of jelly once you’re inside. A really cool experience for sure, and a perfect start of the new year.
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Next stop was Jerash, or rather the ancient Greco-Roman town of Gerasa (also on the top photo). Amazingly well-preserved and full of temples and artifacts, I found it even more impressive than Pompeii. Which is to say, it’s really really amazing.
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On the side of one of the two completely intact ancient theaters…as usual the tourists with selfie sticks are ready to climb anywhere for a good selfie!
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On one of the central streets in Gerasa… I’m intentionally leaving out photos of the oval forum and the main temples so anyone interested would look them up, it’s really beautiful to walk around all these ancient treasures.
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Moving back down (literally) towards the Dead sea but staying in the antiquity. This is the spot next to the Jordan river where Jesus was baptised by St. John around 28-29 AD… meaning when he was about 28-29 years old. Apart from being well-documented in the Bible, this event is believed to be historically accurate by the scholars.
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And we move back up the hills to the present capital of Jordan, Amman, also known in the antiquity as Philadelphia (yes, that’s right). This is the view to the Roman theater (which is really big) from the so-called citadel, the main part of the ancient town.
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By now maybe you’re not impressed with old ruin photos around sunset, but the view from the citadel to the many many hills of Amman is really quite unique. I have to admit it was better captured by those drone shots in the Coldplay video. 
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Still at the citadel, inside the main entrance hall.
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Amman is the main city of Jordan and hosts more than 4 million people. It is a very modern and lively city, full of interesting little shops and street art. Surprised there are girls street artists in the capital of a generally quire religious and traditional Muslim country? You shouldn’t be!
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And maybe less surprising, American pop-culture is truly everywhere!
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A souvenir shop owner filling in a small bottle with colorful sand and drawing this way a camel in the desert. Quite cool, no?
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In Amman we also went to a local cooking class, where we had by far the best meal we tried in Jordan!
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Some more street art on the way back from cooking, you can easily find the spot by the name of the street on the left…provided you can read it of course!
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One day later, after a fun drive through a desert storm between the far north (Amman) and far south (Aqaba at the Red sea). We are at the local beach in Aqaba, full of places where you can smoke shisha and get a coffee. The lands on the other side of the gulf that you see belong to Isreal and then Egypt follows a few kilometers later.
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We also took a glass-bottom boat in Aqaba that took us around some amazing places in the Red sea. This is a sunken ship that is very popular with divers…
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…while this is a rather vast coral reef. Soon after we also jumped out of the boat and went snorkeling in this amazing place. Unfortunately my camera is not water proof, otherwise I could have shown you some pretty amazing shots.
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End of another day in Aqaba, and one last cup of tea next to the beach at 20 degrees before heading to the local airport and catching the flight back to Sofia and to real winter.

Victoria in B&W

Venue: Abandoned hotel, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Nabezao – Black panther (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAARaJ3HLXs

After a small creative break (meaning that I was working and had less time for the photoblog), I am back with a new post and a new category of black and white photos. It’s of course not the first time I’m posting b&w photos, but I’m planning to do so even more often in the future and thus decided to create a designated category. Anyway, without further digressions I present you Victoria. She just turned 18 years old and is still in high school studying many different languages among other things. It took about an hour in my favorite abandoned hotel in the outskirts of Sofia to create these photos and I hope you like them.

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We start with a series of shots on the stairs of what used to be a hotel close to the forest in Vitosha mountain, in one of the suburbs of Sofia.
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Even though she’s so young, Victoria already has quite some experience with posing…
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..so she felt very comfortable in front of the camera from the start.
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Still on the staircase…
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A few last portrait shots with the nice light at the staircase…
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..and two seconds later.
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Another room and another pose, which was entirely her idea.
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Almost an identical picture, but I reflected it horizontally for some diversity.
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Here we finally made it up the stairs, where a corridor used to lead to the hotel rooms…
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but now the building is slowly collapsing.
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And a few vertical shots…
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Last one before heading back down the stairs.
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On the way down Victoria couldn’t resist posing a bit more…
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..but our time was up, so we headed back to the city with a full memory card in my camera.

The People of Sri Lanka

Today is Sri Lanka’s day of mourning for the loss of more than 300 lives in a series of terror attacks in Catholic churches and hotels in the capital Colombo and around the country. I’m not good in writing emotional words and have no power to change things or comfort the suffering, but I would like to send a message of love and offer my condolences and support to the people of Sri Lanka with a series of photos. I had the fortune of visiting this beautiful country several months ago and in the very short period of my travels met so many friendly and welcoming people, some of whom I managed to capture with my camera. The first photo you see above was taken in St. Anthony’s shrine in Colombo at the Sunday morning mass, and I’m sure the church was even more crowded with innocent people two days ago when a bomb went off. I did not personally know any of the victims, but it is clear that they were very ordinary people like you and me and like all the smiley,  expressive and honest faces you’ll see below. So we can all take a minute to mourn their loss and contemplate on the responsibility we all have in such a globalized world where everyone and everything is interconnected.

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A woman in Sigiriya showing the traditional way of cleaning rice.
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A smiling cook at a roadside open kitchen selling roti and other small snacks.
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A peanut vendor on the street in Nuwara Eliya.
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A beautiful local family at the train stop in Nuwara Eliya. The kids were very shy but asked me to take a picture of them.
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Our driver, local guide and good buddy, Susante, enjoying the Ella landscape.
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We lost our way around the tea plantations in Ella and this old woman and her shy granddaughter came with us through the forest to lead our way. At the end they also happily posed for this photo.
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Another woman living nearby sold us orange coconut juice…
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..while her kids were busy playing and posing for me.
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Two old fisherman in front of their colorful boat in the port of Mirissa, serving as a fish market in the early morning.
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Another old fisherman observing peacefully the hustle and bustle of the fish market.
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A man carving traditional masks for a small souvenir shop on the side of the main road.
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A caretaker in a turtle sanctuary, protecting hundreds of injured sea turtles and releasing them back in the wild after their recovery.
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A street vendor in central Colombo, who was very happy and eager to pose for a picture. He was selling flowers to the church goers right next to St. Anthony’s shrine.
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Morning in Colombo. An old man is taking an improvised shower before work with a bucket of water on the roof of his home.
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The first street vendors in Colombo on a Sunday morning shortly before our flight out of the country.

 

Anna

Venue: Abandoned hotel, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Oasis – She’s electric (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04hcZwqYVpI)

Today we are back to my favorite abandoned hotel in the outskirts of Sofia, this time with Anna (but not Anna Maria!) and with some more provocative photos in sexy underwear. Anna is a student in Sofia and in the same time working as a fitness instructor, which explains why she’s so much in shape. I hope you’ll enjoy the photos with her and leave feedback in your comments as usual. And even if you don’t like this particular photoshoot, stay tuned for new travel shots coming soon!

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We start at the second floor of the abandoned hotel and white lingerie…
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..trying some different poses…
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..changing in black and going half a floor up…
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More posing on the staircase…
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…and a change of perspective.
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Going back to the white lingerie for a change.
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A room with some fun graffiti.
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And back to black.
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We also made it to the top floor of the hotel, which has decayed even more than the rest.
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Going slowly back down…
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On the first floor at the hotel lobby, which was painted with some Egyptian mythology motives.
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More shots with the old Egyptian gods, just as on the top photo.
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And we finally made it outside for a few last shots, where Anna felt she has to put some extra clothes before posing.

 

Anna Maria

Venue: Abandoned hotel, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Glass Animals – Youth (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZdsmLgCVdU)

After a short international break (loads of photos from Japan coming up at some point) I’m back to posting some (by now) older photos. So here’s a photoshoot with the young Anna Maria at one of my favorite places, the abandoned hotel in the outskirts of Sofia where I already took photos of Lily (https://kirilson.com/2016/05/21/lily-2/), Ivelina (https://kirilson.com/2016/05/29/ivelina/), and Asia (https://kirilson.com/2016/07/10/asia/). Anna Maria is just 18 years old and about to finish her high school and go to university (or maybe become a model, who knows?). So enjoy the photos, and stay tuned for more soon!

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Anna Maria in her choice of black outfit exploring the shattered rooms and halls of the abandoned hotel.
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There were several flights of stairs and plenty of other interesting places to explore and pose.
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This is her second outfit, we used them interchangeably to see what fits best on the chaotic background. Which outfit do you prefer more?
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Shots being fired..
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Inside what I think used to be the main lobby, or maybe restaurant, who knows.
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The leather jacket here looks as if she had some black wings.
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A wider view shot of Anna Maria on the second floor staircase.
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A black & white try, I think it also works well.

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“Help me”
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Coming out of the window frame..
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A fun “iluminati” graffiti.
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Some outdoor posing that I decided looks better in black & white.
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A last photo outside with the other clothes before our time was up and we headed back to the city to watch a football game.

 

100th post special: People in art musea

Venue: Hamburg, Stockholm, Thessaloniki, Milano, New York city, Venice, Padova, Paris

Music: The Beatles – A day in the life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usNsCeOV4GM)

So after almost 3 years I finally made it to the 100th post on my blog, which I decided to be a special compilation with some of my favorite shots over the years under the common theme of people observing and interacting with art. If I ever get to showcase some of my photos in a gallery, I imagine it will be a selection similar to this one. So thanks a lot to everyone for following, liking and commenting on my photos! As you know the feedback process is really indispensable to the idea of blogging and I wouldn’t have made it without all this support. So, any further ideas for photo topics or compilations are very welcome, and I hope the next 100 posts are way better!

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This is probably my first memorable shot of people interacting with art at the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg – https://kirilson.com/2016/12/04/more-kunst/.
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Another photo where the observer involuntarily mimics the photo of Picasso by Irving Penn, at the Met in NYC – https://kirilson.com/2017/09/25/us-art-the-met/.
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And yet another instance of strange resemblance between the visitor and the painting by Amedeo Midigliani in Guggenheim museum in New York – https://kirilson.com/2017/09/20/us-art-guggenheim/.
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This is not a museum, but the beautifully decorated Stockholm underground system. The passers by rushing on with their life involuntarily take part of this gigantic art piece – https://kirilson.com/2016/12/22/konst-in-and-under-stockholm/.
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Another case where the passer by unknowingly takes part of the art installation, the red cubes of Lary Bell at New York’s Whitney – https://kirilson.com/2018/04/07/us-art-whitney/.
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An art installation with mirrors infinitely reflecting the hearts and the people in the room, at the “Love” exhibition of Museo della Permanente in Milano – https://kirilson.com/2017/08/14/an-eclectic-art-tour-in-italy-love-mummies-and-cinema/.
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Crossing the Atlantic once more, the Starry Night of van Gogh at MoMA in NYC is literally hypnotizing some of the visitors – https://kirilson.com/2018/04/07/us-art-moma/.
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A visitor at the photo museum of Thessaloniki watching the portraits of migrants during the refugee crisis in Europe – https://kirilson.com/2017/04/22/thessaloniki-roadtrip/.
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Another visitor of the exhibit of Irving Penn at the Met, it’s never too late to be inspired – https://kirilson.com/2017/09/25/us-art-the-met/.
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Sometimes you’re just lucky to incidentally capture a rushing visitor that emphasizes the art behind, again at the Met – https://kirilson.com/2017/09/25/us-art-the-met/.
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And other times the real live people are the whole point of the art installation, here arranged by Edith Dekyndt for the Venice biennale – https://kirilson.com/2018/11/14/venice-biennale-i-arsenale/.
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But maybe the most fun is when the art is designed to feature random visitors such that the sights and sounds are constantly changing as in the project of Tomas Saraceno for Palais de Tokyo in Paris – https://kirilson.com/2019/01/03/palais-de-tokyo/.
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Not a museum, but some street art in the centre of Padova. Who wouldn’t take a photo, and a photo within the photo – https://kirilson.com/2018/11/27/italy-art-tour-ii-padova/.

Hrisi in the park

Venue: “Borisova garden” park, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Soundgarden – Black hole sun (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mbBbFH9fAg)

In my quest for posting all my old half-forgotten photos from last year, here comes a short photo series with Hrisi that we made in one of the main parks in Sofia last April. The goal of the photoshoot was to somehow combine a more provocative look with posing in the park among plenty of random people. And as always, you’ll be the judges if we managed to succeed or not and whether my idea of presenting only black and white versions is a good one.

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The “Borisova garden” is a park full of old communist monuments, so we made use of the shade provided by one of the big ones.
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We also made a few shots in an underpass filled with graffiti…
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..and the backside version.
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There is also a vast area of free growing forest, where we continued experimenting.

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I also borrowed Hrisi my Houston Rockets hat for a few shots on this bench.
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Back to some photos with the shirt in the forest…
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..and some more with the headphones on, just before our time was up.

 

Eating with Zheny

Venue: Koto, Sofia city centre

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Led Zeppelin – Kashmir (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDwotNLyz10)

In our second photoshoot with Zheny (our first one was outside in the evening lights: https://kirilson.com/2017/05/17/zheny/) she wanted to help promote one of the newly opened Asian fusion restaurants in the centre of Sofia. So the idea was for me to take photos while she’s eating and making “yummy” expressions. I’m not sure our original plan was completely successfully executed, but I still think we made some nice photos for the little time we had to shoot (less than an hour). So I’m curious to see your opinion!

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I’ll give less comments than usual as most of the photos are self-evident, but the original idea was that Zheny poses while eating food with hands. Eventually she didn’t like most of these photos…
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..so we settled for photos where she’s just holding food…
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or cocktails!
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She also felt like posing with the interior of the new restaurant.

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And back to the food!

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Of course she was well prepared to change her outfit and try some different pictures around the restaurant.

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Then we changed the food and the table…
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..and played a bit with the decoration to eventually create what I think is the best shot we made that afternoon! Do you agree?
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A last more sensual shot before our time was up and we had to leave the restaurant workers clean up after us and prepare everything for dinner.

Street workout with Ana

Venue: Greenwich village, New York City

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Fort Minor – Remember the name (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDvr08sCPOc)

After the virtual tour around the art museums of the US east coast, I think it’s time to shift gear and come back to some shots with models posing for me. Here I present you Ana, a young fitness coach and model that moved recently to NYC from California. I only now got to select and show you the photos of Ana, even though they were taken on the very same day and just several hours after my photoshoot with Shiera (https://kirilson.com/2017/08/20/on-the-street-with-shiera/). Better late than never I guess, especially since the sports lovers will surely enjoy our evening workout around Greenwich village.

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As soon as we met close to Washington square park, Ana got into exercise mood and started posing in her sports outfit.
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Heading to a small park on the side of the street…
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…where Ana did some more stretching and breathing exercises.
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We kept moving around the little streets and doing small exercises while taking photos.

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With the evening we found ourselves on a quiet street close to the Cherry lane theater. It was perfect some jogging exercises, for which Ana is preparing here.
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I didn’t manage to capture her properly on focus while running, so I decided to concentrate on simpler stretching exercises.

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We found a locked bike on the street so Ana decided to pose around it, but of course she couldn’t actually use it.
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Some last exercises further down the street…
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…and we parted our ways at the nearby metro station, where Ana posed for me a little bit more.

 

South park bike ride with Eli

Venue: South park, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Bombay Bicycle Club – Always like this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QKj62RKBrM&index=3&list=PLjCEZtJ3LzpoqYDPlirfiWhBq-sW_S7vq)

In the spirit of flashbacks from old photo shoots, I decided to also show you some 2016 photos from a summer bike ride in one of the parks in Sofia (yes, South park is the official name, ages before the animated sitcom was created) with Eli. She already showed up with her twin sister Nadya in a post earlier this year (https://kirilson.com/2017/03/13/eli-nadya/), but this time it was just Eli alone. Our park bike ride took place earlier, but Eli was always shy about showing her photos and didn’t want me posting them so far. I guess now she gained a little more confidence in herself and realized the photos are actually not that bad, but this is of course ultimately left for anyone’s own opinion.

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Just like with the other photos of Eli, I like some of them more in black and white. But don’t worry, you’ll also get to see some color later. After just biking for a while around the park I also decided to put my camera to use, but she was at first too shy to pose and was trying to run away.
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Slowly she got more comfortable and I managed to take some portrait shots like the one here and on top of the post.
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We then moved a bit deeper in the park to a small hill, overlooking Vitosha mountain behind us.
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We went on trying different poses on the hill…
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..and when the sun was about to set I decided we should stay some more and take advantage of the nice light. This is also why I’m also switching to color photos now!
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The warm light and lens flares during sunset are always very helpful to a photographer.
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One more shot against the setting sun…
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..and then reversing the angle.
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One last sunlit shot..
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..and just when I decided I had taken enough photos, we spotted this nice playground on the edge of the park with children running around. So I couldn’t resist taking one last photo trying to catch the summer evening mood in this part of the city.

 

On the street with Shiera

Venue: Greenwich village, New York

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Jaz-Z Feat. Mr. Hudson – Young forever (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pIABtOwdD4)

During my recent visit to New York (more photos of the city coming soon) I had the opportunity to meet and organize photoshoots with a few young aspiring models. I first present you Shiera – a native Californian that grew up in the Bay area and moved to New York just a year ago to pursue her career. We only had about an hour in one early evening in May to walk around the streets in Greenwich village and take some photos in the places we liked, but I think we still managed to produce some fine shots. I’ll let you judge for yourselves in an unbiased way by showing you chronologically our little photo-walk (giving the exact locations so you can retrace our steps if interested).

 

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We started our walk next to a pizza place on Macdougal street close to Washington square park in Manhattan.
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Still on the same street with a dimly lit bar on the background highlighting Shiera’s face.
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Minetta street, a quiet side street lacking the usual crowd of people and therefore perfect for posing undisturbed.
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Crossing 6th avenue and entering the official confines of Greenwich village. The omni-present NY taxi and the indistinguishable here Freedom tower are behind Shiera.
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An interesting brick wall along Downing street. 
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A typical stairway and main entrance belonging to a house (most probably) along Bedford street.
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Still at Bedford street, outside the Neighborhood Cut & Shave.
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A short coffee break for Shiera at Amy’s Bread bakery on the corner of Bleecker and Leroy street. No real break for me as I was outside taking photos of her and the window reflections like the ones here and on top.
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Just a bit further up Bleecker street, on the corner with Cornelia street.
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On the same place as above, outside a hip Mexican joint that provided a nice background with its wooden windows and bright little lights inside.
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The end of our photo-walk a little further up Cornelia street where Shiera could finish her latte and head to the metro station around the corner.

 

Zheny

Venue: Sofia city centre

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Loic Nottet – Million eyes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68EnJITH-5Q)

The concept of our photos with Zheny was quite simple: we go out in the evening in central Sofia, searching for a suitable light and a nice background. Unlike my last few photoshoots, there were no extra props and pets with us so we could really concentrate on Zheny’s look and outfit. She came very prepared with a brand new haircut and a set of clothes to change, so we only needed to search for the right spot in several areas we had previous discussed. So here comes the outcome – three sets of photos for three different places and outfits.

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Our first choice fell on the main orthodox cathedral in Sofia, Alexander Nevsky. This is still a test photo which helped us figure out which side of the cathedral was more appropriate.
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And here start our true shots with Zheny in a formal dress, fitting to the church spirit.
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A black&white version with a more timeless feel.
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Another angle of the cathedral, at which point Zheny decided it’s time to let her hair loose and we headed off to the next photo spot.
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After a short break to change clothes at the club Zheny is working in as a PR, we headed to the administrative centre of Bulgaria – the square where the houses of the president and the government are situated. It is quite empty and well lit up at night, so it was a good place for our purposes.
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Unfortunately the light seemed a little bit too strong on the photos, so we tried to find a side spot close to the main department store in the old socialist times.
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This is the kind of light we aimed for..
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..so we tried quite a few poses before changing the outfit and the place for one last time.
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And these are the tram railways on “Graf Ignatiev” street, where we decided to make some more casual photos going along with the street appearance around us.
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Cars are not allowed to enter the street so we had plenty of time to try various fun and provocative poses, only disturbed occasionally by the passing trams.
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And when trams did pass I tried to fit them in the shot, as seen here and on the top photo.
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We also tried some shots with the graffiti on the side of the street, but it was getting late so we decided to call it a day and think of other photo concepts in the future.

Kami & Charlie

Venue: My place and surroundings, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Moloko – Forever more (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfo1878wd60)

Probably my most bizarre photoshoot must be the one with Kami, largely due to the presence of her little pet ferret Charlie who accompanied her. He is already several years old and she is taking care of him since he was still an underdeveloped baby ferret. It was a beautiful spring afternoon so we decided to take some outdoor street photos first and only after try some studio photos in my place. We had to leave Charlie roam around my bathroom when we got to my place as he got overly excited and so only Kami could pose for the studio photos. And this gives you the chance of choosing which set of photos you prefer – Kami vs. Kami & Charlie, indoor vs. outdoor. And to make it easier for you to decide (or maybe harder?) I decided to order them in an alternating way.

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Here is Kami in a blue shirt with a blue umbrella on a blue background. And a very colorful skeleton in front.
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And this is Charlie, resting peacefully on Kami’s shoulder and standing in front of some graffiti on the side of the street.
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Back to the studio with Kami and her fashionable lipstick shirt.
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And here is Charlie sticking his tongue out.
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Yellow shirt, hat, shades and balloons.
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And the curious expression of Charlie on a yellow background.
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Kami in a frame. Literally.
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And again changing colors and expressions.
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Kami playing with some balloons (leftover from my birthday some days earlier).
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Charlie looking slightly scared.
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And Kami looking very confident instead.
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In front of the house next door with its crumbling wooden fence.
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And finishing back inside with Kami and her blue umbrella.

Eli & Nadya

Venue: My place, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Coldplay – Yellow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKNxeF4KMsY)

After some thought on how to design it logistically, I managed to convert my apartment into a sort of amateur photo studio with the help of a piece of wire used for hanging clothes, a large bed sheet and a few fluorescent lamps. So this post marks my first (and hopefully not last) series of home-made studio photos. It is also the first post in which I decided to include only black and white photos (with the obvious exception of the picture on top) following the suggestions of several of you.

As you already read the title my first models in my new home studio were Eli and Nadya, but probably you didn’t immediately realize they are actually twin sisters. Eli has straight hair and is the more outspoken, while Nadya has curly hair and is the shy twin. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that most of the photos you’ll see are with Eli only. Here they come.

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Eli arrived first at my place and was well prepared with various clothes that we could experiment with, so we started with some urban style.
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And then tried some shots with the “Babe” t-shirt.
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Then also Nadya arrived so we tried some group photos..
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and some photos of Nadya only, but she got bored with posing much faster than her sister.
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So Eli changed into a new outfit with an artsy and was ready for more posing.

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At some point we decided to use my guitar as a prop. I tried to show Eli some chords so that she could pose more realistically, and this one is supposed to be E minor.
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But eventually we decided we can make good photos without her pretending to play.
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I also have a small drum that I bought as a souvenir from somewhere, so Nadya decided to join the band and make some noise.
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We also tried some more serious expressions, but switched back to more playful shots like the photo on top.
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Soon Nadya got tired from posing so we tried some more shots with Eli. Here I suggested her to do “the scream” of Edvard Munch as I like him a lot.
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And we finished off the photo shoot with some more fashion style poses.

Yoga with Renata

Venue: Mettasense yoga studio, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Dead can dance – Opium (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zReWPjreJzI)

Given the cold winter I didn’t have many opportunities to update my blog with new photos lately. Still, I did manage to make a few indoor photoshoots which I promise to show you. The first one is with Renata. She is a yoga instructor and had the idea to pose for some photos in her workplace, which is one of the new yoga studios in Sofia – Mettasense (http://www.mettasense.com/). I already had the chance to make some outdoor photos with yoga positions last summer with Adi (https://kirilson.com/2016/07/25/adi/) and was happy to try again in a more professional environment. So, relax and enjoy some yoga with Renata and my usual insightful comments.

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There were three different rooms in the yoga studio and we started with the most colorful of them, with Renata warming up with some easier (for her) exercises.
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A moment of concentration..
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..and a harder exercise including a sort of bridge.
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I already forgot the names of all the other yoga poses, so I won’t try to pretend I know what she was doing and how hard it is.
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Meanwhile we moved to the next, more “zen” looking room.
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This is a pose I most certainly won’t be able to make.
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And another one.
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Probably I can manage with this one!
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Moving on to the third room with water trickling peacefully on one of the walls and a cool image on the other one.
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A close-up of the pose you can see on the top photo.
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A head stand..
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..and a more tricky one for which Renata needed to be close to the wall for support. Shortly afterwards it was time for her next yoga class, which meant the end of the photoshoot for the moment. But who knows, maybe you’ll get to see some more yoga in the coming months.

Arti & Markha

Venue: Sofia Hotel Balkan

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Philipp Kirkorov – Snow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1gYqJpJONg)

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.

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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.

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

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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): (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQNsE1znfdQ). 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.

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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…
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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.
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Of course at the time we were trying to make as many nice photos as possible…
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..and we tried various less standard ideas…
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as in this photo with Markha crawling on the table in front of Arti..
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and with Arti pretending to be a waiter serving coffee.
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Of course we also tried the bedroom with its dark red curtains.
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Yet another shot for my secret mission.
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Here we decided to switch into a more casual outfit and change the mood.

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There was also time for some fun smartphone shots where Arti was pretending to be swallowing the lights from the busy street traffic below.
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The evening came and Arti found a very cool hoodie in his bag..
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which made him look like Batman, watching over the city…no?
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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.

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We went on changing settings and roles under the guidance of Katia who kept inventing scenes…
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like the one where Arti is supposed to be violent..
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or where they both look very seriously away from each other.
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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.