After the end of the football games I finally had more time for photography, and even got a new portrait lens in anticipation of the sea holidays and coming beach photos. I was still in Sofia though, so we arranged a photoshoot with Adi in the park. She felt like her style would be some “dark” photos in black outfit and I had the idea of getting a candle and trying to combine the evening light in the park with the candlelight. So we aimed for a bit creepy feel in the narrow pathways in the forest on one end of the park, and i think the result is quite cool.
For the coming photos I need to tell you a bit more about Adi and her multitasking personality. Apart from being a full time financial analyst and a mother of two children, she is doing a PhD in philosophy with Italian language. If that’s not enough, she is also a journalist and an author that writes short stories in her free time, and has a blog of her own (https://adispasova.wordpress.com) in Bulgarian. And last but not least, she’s also a yoga instructor. Which is why we decided to make some photos of her practicing yoga and trying various positions on one of the old communist monuments in the park.
After the yoga we planned to do some more dark style photos in the gazebos nearby, but unfortunately they were all taken by people, and we wondered around the alleys making a few more photos. It was one of the hottest evenings of summer and so we were essentially forced to stop for a beer at some point, which was the end of the photoshoot as it got too dark afterwards.
It was again time for some photos in my favorite abandoned hotel in Simeonovo, and this time the lead role was for Asia, who has quite a unique story herself. She is Polish and moved to live in Bulgaria several years ago. By now she already speaks perfect Bulgarian and is happy with her life in Sofia, but I can imagine that adapting to the local culture was never easy for her. I’m hoping that with her non-standard decision to move here she’s setting an example for more beautiful blonde girls from the North to move to our parts.
I brought Asia to the same place from my shoots with Lily (https://kirilson.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/lily-2/) and Ivelina (https://kirilson.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/ivelina/), but this time we ventured even further inside and explored the top floor of the hotel. The setting turned out to be as if taken from some horror movie stage, with molded rooms left in complete chaos and random artifacts from the past showing up here and there. So the long-legged semi-nude shape of Asia made quite a contrast with the background and helped for a set of very interesting photos I think.
As you can see from the photos Asia has quite some modeling experience already, even if she’s usually very busy doing many other things. So it took us some months before we finally managed to find a good time for both of us to meet. But once we did she immediately got into posing mood and appreciated the weirdness of the setting and its potential for nice photos.
At some point we had seen enough demolition and decided to go out and breathe some fresh air, and made some photos in the lower parts of the hotel and its surroundings. Asia also changed her shirt, so the next set of photos had a completely different feel. We unfortunately couldn’t make too many photos outside as it was really hot and the sun was very strong, but we were already happy with our results until then. So we headed back downtown to enjoy the rest of the weekend in a less moldy atmosphere.
Back home after my extended stay in New York, I had a jetlagged week of sleepless nights and sleepy days. The only good thing I managed to do was my photoshoot with Desi, who as an added bonus brought her friend Vesi. They came to my place one sunny evening in late May, and we decided it will be best to make photos on the balcony and catch the sunset.
Desi and Vesi both came to Sofia to study and ended up in the same course in university, which is how they met. Desi already had some modeling experience and was quite comfortable in front of the camera while Vesi was more timid and we tried to get her to relax with some wine and some common photos with the two of them. In the end we made many more photos of Desi, but we had plenty of fun and nice photos of both of them.
Then came the time to change outfit and move into more reddish tones, to match the setting sun, trying more combined photos and experimenting with the focus.
Then it was time for some individual shots, with Desi trying out an interesting jewel on her head that made me think of Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. I bet she’d do quite a job as a substitute of Emilia Clarke.
In the end we made a few more photos of Vesi on the balcony and then moved to my other balcony hiding from the sun, where we finished with some more shots of Desi and the plans to meet again with some more photo ideas.
You might have noticed the lack of photos from Central park in my New York post, and now I will overcompensate with many photos from there. The spotlight falls however on Irina and not the park, as she kindly agreed to be my model for a couple of hours one sunny afternoon. She is originally from Ukraine but came to live in the States several years ago, eventually ending up staying in Brooklyn, New York. She is a mechanical engineer, so posing is not exactly her expertise, but her natural beauty easily compensates for her lack of experience. Her big smile, joyful spirit, and bright blue eyes make it very hard to guess her profession.
We made most of the photos on the little walkways behind The Lake, where tourists rent boats to escape the crowds around.
She then changed from her casual outfit into a white dress in order to fit in the spring atmosphere that afternoon in the park. We tried a wider variety of photos with her dancing on the streets, and some close up portrait pictures highlighting her eyes and smile.
We also tried some really close photos of her hiding in the leaves of a tree, so that you can only see her eyes shining out.
For the last set of photos we moved a bit further in the park, around Shakespeare garden, and exchanged the white dress for a pink one. After that I had to let her go to her engineering studies, remaining with plenty of nice photos for processing.
The last weekend before my long trip to the US (coming soon here), the spring sun was still shining and Joy (or Radost as her name is in Bulgarian) was eager to make some nice photos with flowers in her hair. I was of course happy to assist as she is a good friend of mine, and we decided to try the “Borisova garden” in the centre of Sofia. It was a holiday and the weather was perfect, so the park was really overcrowded and it was hard to find a spot of nature without people around. Together with her natural shyness, this meant that we had to go deep in the park to find some more appropriate places for photos where people wouldn’t bother us so much. Along the way we picked up some dandelions and other flowers and managed to put them together in a sort of wreath and were ready for action.
We of course tried some photos without the wreath of flowers to change the mood somewhat, and ventured further inside the park which is really big. She was still shy and uncomfortable with trying too many photos and poses, but the ones we did manage to make were quite successful.
Our last stop at the far end of the park was a small training ground in the forest with some gym equipment outside. As she is quite fit and actually training pole dancing (yes, maybe you’ll see that someday) we tried some photos of her hanging from the gymnastic rings. This was the end of the phototrip and we headed to the nearest cafe for a beer.
We had tried to arrange a photoshoot with Ivelina for some time and finally succeeded one afternoon during the week when she had come for lectures in Sofia. She is from Stara Zagora, one of the big cities in South Bulgaria, and spends most of her free time there or in Plovdiv (which you can see here https://kirilson.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/a-winter-day-in-plovdiv/). Apart from her studies in Sofia, she is busy taking part of a dancing group performing in clubs around Bulgaria. But fortunately lectures were not too interesting that day so instead we decided to drive to my favorite abandoned hotel in Simeonovo (https://kirilson.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/lily-2/) for some photos.
We started off with her casual clothes with the praying nun, and then moved on to some photos around the forest in more provocative style clothes. We also tried some photos at the entrance and inside the hotel, which turned out to be a beautiful setting (you’ll see some photos on the second floor of this place in a future post).
After this we changed style again as she put on her evening yellow dress. It was quite clear she’s looking best when trying to be sexy rather than cute, but we tried nevertheless, and the photos also came out pretty good. She tried walking barefoot on the road (surviving some close encounters with passing cars), and holding my hand as if bringing me somewhere.
At the end, back to more provocative style photos, she put on a very sexy outfit with a shirt and jeans. Unfortunately it started raining soon afterwards, so out photoshoot had to finish earlier than planned and we headed off to the city. Still we managed to make quite some photos to show off with.
After all the photoshoots outside it was time to try out some home photos and change the mood, and Mimi was the girl for this. She is working for the ministry of finance in Sofia and liked the idea of trying some photos inside, even though she was at first a bit shy and uncertain about her posing skills and lack of experience. I did my best to convince her explained that it always takes a bit of time (or wine) to relax and get into posing mood, and apparently I did a good job. As you’ll soon see it was totally worth the effort.
So Mimi came to my place with a big sack of clothes that she would change and try out different styles, aiming mostly for a more cosy home style photos of her in casual clothes with a cup of coffee at hand.
After an hour of cosy photos and the better part of the first bottle of wine, Mimi got much more comfortable and you can see her self-confidence and sexy attitude kicking in with the subsequent photos.
We made a short pizza and wine break and decided to change clothes and do some more provocative photos around the house in bright red and green blouses, trying out also an old shirt of mine in between.
The final set of photos was the most sexy part, when she was already feeling very comfortable with posing. We tried some photos of her in bed, in a sexy bra, and with wet her in a towel around the house. Enjoy!
The perfect spring weather in Sofia persisted in the coming weeks, so it was natural to continue with the spring photos with flowers and blossoming trees. My model for the day was Ina, who was very responsive and organized and easy to work with. She came to study here in Sofia and is now working in marketing and in the same time doing her PhD on media and mass communications. Most importantly – Ina is already married, sorry guys!
Even though it was warm outside, the day turned out to be cloudy and rainy so not too many people showed up in the park. This was perfect for our plans to walk around and make photos in several different dresses that Ina had brought for the occasion.
We started with her white blouse that made her look like a bride on the photos and then moved on to her more more formal dresses, which we had decided would look nicely in the park. She had to change clothes in the restrooms of the alternative concert club “The monkey house” (“Маймунярника”) in the middle of the park. So we inadvertently got some strange looks from the usual punk crowd that hangs out there, but this never stopped us.
After the red dress followed a black evening dress, which turned out to be the last as it also started getting dark and rainy. For the last set of photos we chose the most popular place at the park – the lake of the lilies, and in particular the ledge on the side of the lake.
Meanwhile back in Sofia spring had already come and everyone was out in the parks and outside cafes. One would think that it was the perfect time for some photos outside, but strangely enough it took me some time to convince Radi (who featured in https://kirilson.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/radi-cherry/) to meet as she was scared her hair was not looking good enough. I couldn’t see any problem with her hair, but then again I myself have no hair so I am probably less sensitive to the issues of people with hair.
So we ended up having a proper spring photoshoot, going around the park behind the Hilton hotel in the centre of Sofia. First we stopped at an interesting yellow house at the entrance of the park next to a strange modern art statue, and later we moved on to the main site of the park. We didn’t have much time as Radi had to go soon, but we still ended up with plenty of photos to show.
A few weeks after our first photoshoot with Lily (https://kirilson.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/lily/), she wrote me that she found the perfect spot for photos near Sofia. It is actually in the neighborhood (former village) of Simeonovo, close to the Vitosha mountain. On a road going up in the forest there is an abandoned hotel, which provides a variety of backgrounds for photos as you’ll see.
I was of course curious to check out the new place, so we drove up there the next day, and it was indeed the perfect place for photos and a refreshing escape from the busy city. The combination of wild nature and a spooky crumbling building makes up a very interesting atmosphere, and so we started exploring the different sites around the hotel and trying different photos.
We then moved to the back of the hotel and the side entrances that are also crumbling down. There’s also plenty of shattered glasses from the windows of the hotel, so we tried some more artsy style photos by making her hold the glass at the angle to reflect the sun and look more bright on the picture. This way I could also play with Photoshop afterwards and get an interesting effect by artificially darkening the photo.
We also made some photos in the areas closer to the forest and on the little abandoned children playground nearby. By the time we explored all places we had spent more than three hours on the site and decided to head back to the city as the sun was already hiding behind the mountain.
My photoshoot with Hrisi was the most professional experience I’ve had so far. Hrisi herself is a model and a model manager at a model agency here in Sofia, and has connections with all the fashion people around. This is how she managed to organize us to make photos in the atelier of the dress designer Daffy and even have a professional make-up artist (Silvy) to help. Our only problem was the weather as it was dark and rainy all day, and we were mostly dependent on sunlight in the tiny atelier.
You can see the small corner of the atelier that we used as our main stage, and if you look carefully on one of the photos in the background you can see Hrisi herself from some previous photoshoot. So our plan was to try out photos with different dresses from the atelier, and drink some wine and chat in the meantime. Overall it took us the whole afternoon and evening with people dropping in constantly to say hi and stay for a glass of wine. So the tiny atelier barely managed to fit all the people and this is why all photos you see are from the last remaining corner not full of people and clothes.
As you see we took out the photos from the wall, to create the illusion the photos are made in a more spacious place, and tried to show the most of every dress and the different ways of wearing it. Unfortunately as the time went on the lighting was getting worse and we tried using the small lamps in the atelier, but there were less photos of good quality. Still we had a lot of fun and quite a lot of pictures, so we were all very happy with the outcome of our small photo project (not only from the amount of wine drunk).
I am proud to say I was one of the first photographers that “discovered” Lily, who in the months that followed went on to pose for photos for many Bulgarian photographers and has a bright modeling career ahead. She is actually Ukrainian but came to live in Sofia as a teenager, consequently graduating in the university here as a journalist. Even if modeling is not yet her profession, Lily is extremely devoted and serious about posing, and we actually had an elaborate project to make photos in a post-communist style with some old buildings and the outfit of communist girls in school. It also turned out we live in the same neighborhood so it was easy to set a date and try some photos.
As you see it actually turned out what we planned to be a girls uniform from the communist times looks a lot like a present day school uniform in some countries (not in Bulgaria). So we can as well call the photosession “Back to school” as we also happened to find several schools in the neighborhood that provided an interesting setting for our photos.
I need to mention specifically one particular photo my friends like making fun about, because of the writing on the wall behind (I am not translating this for the non-Bulgarian speakers, sorry guys!).
Their usual question is how I managed to get Lily to stand under this sign, and my answer is that art sometimes needs to provoke people, so I am happy we did it well here.
We finished with some more school photos and the promise to organize something else soon.
The winter was getting milder so with Radi we decided to make some photos outside around the streets and parks in the centre of Sofia. She is from a small town in the mountains and came to study in Sofia some years ago. Now she’s working in one of the big media companies in Bulgaria, but likes fashion and modeling so was happy to pose for me. As an added bonus she also took her little dog – Cherry.
Unfortunately it was still cloudy and dark outside, and you can see the remaining bits of unmelted snow around. The people that know Sofia will recognize this first set of pictures was taken in front of the National Palace of Culture, which will surely feature on a blog of its own someday. Next we decided to walk around the small streets off the main street Vitosha, and made some photos at random places on the street that we liked.
At the end of our photo tour around Sofia we decided to stop for a drink at one nice cocktail bar to warm up, and made a new set of photos around it and inside. Afterwards it already got too dark for more photos and we decided to call it a day and meet again for more photos when the spring comes (which turned out to be quite soon).
It was again a freezing winter day when we met with Ani, and fortunately we had already decided to make photos inside. She was working at a new restaurant in downtown Sofia and her boss had suggested we make some photos there, to be used for advertisements. But it was not a working day for the restaurant and so we were also free to just make photos for our own fun, on which we mostly concentrated.
You can already see the setting we had to work in, the restaurant is essentially in a basement and given the poor light and the fact that we could only improvise with a bottle of wine, an apple and a few candles I think we did a pretty good job. Ani had also brought several different dresses so we could also try different ideas with them, trying to make the best possible advertising photos in the same time. Here follow some more semi-advertising photos.
A few more words about Ani – apart from her beauty and her passion for tattoos that are obvious from the photos, she’s actually a big fitness fan. She has a very strong and determined personality and is training for bikini fitness competitions. Clearly it was not appropriate to make bikini fitness photos in the restaurant, but maybe you should stay tuned for some future post..