Since the moment Evo saw his first National Geographic Magazine, he knew that he too would one day make pictures just like that…and so he does! And on the side he also makes time to guide and teach for Creative Endeavors, as well as develop new itineraries to make sure we are getting to the best places at the right times to capture the most incredible photographs.
For more than 10 years, Evo’s career has been a mixture of the three areas in his life that he feels most passionate about: Nature conservation, outdoors guiding and photography. Ever since earning his license for mountain guiding in 2004, he has shared his love for the beautiful Bulgarian trails with hundreds of nature lovers and hikers.
Between the years of 2006 and 2009, Evo worked full time in conservation in the Central Balkan National Park managing a project aimed at reintroducing the Griffon Vulture back into the park. It was during these years that he first picked up a camera and began taking his first shots of nature. So began his career in photography.
By 2009, Evo had already succeeded in winning several photography competitions and had become a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine, Bulgaria. In fact, many of his photo-essay features became the best local edits for the magazine.
In 2011, Evo received a cultural exchange scholarship from the prestigious American Fulbright Foundation, which gave him the opportunity to spend 4 months on a Crow reservation in southeastern Montana as a photographer. Professionally the result was a solo photo exhibition, “Indian Summer,” and a feature for National Geographic Magazine, Bulgaria. However, personally the experience had a profound impact as well. In Evo’s own words: “Besides the professional work and language practice, that summer was an unforgettable personal and spiritual lifetime experience which connected me with lots of new friends.”
On his return to Bulgaria in 2012, Evo took on the role of art director for National Geographic, Bulgaria and continued to work in this capacity until February 2017 when he became a new father. He does however, still continue to work on photographic assignments with National Geographic.
In 2016, he agreed to join Creative Endeavors as their mountain guide, photography instructor and general advisor to all things Bulgarian. He was instrumental in developing the itinerary for their first tours of 2016 and continues to lend his advice, knowledge and experience to developing the company’s future growth. If he has a free moment, he can be found scrounging for huge, old wooden beams for the barn he is restoring into a home in the Rhodope Mountains.
This was one unforgettable moment in Central Balkan National Park- dwelling ground for wild horse herds. After three boring days of heavy rain I couldn’t stay in the hut anymore. So I went out in the rain walking across the mountain pasture. Surprisingly the rain stopped for a moment and the sun broke through a hole in the clouds lighting up the galloping herd…
I was carefully stalking through the brush to take a photo of this Capercally rooster high up in the Rila mountain. I was being very careful so as not to scare the bird and chase it away. Then it finally spotted me. Much against my expectations, it rushed straight towards me. I kept taking photos thinking that this must be some kind of bluff. Well, it wasn’t. Right after I took that shot it bit me above my knee and started flapping its wings. I ran away, but I paid for that shot with my blood. Despite the layers of winter clothes my skin was pinched and bleeding. That is how I learned about the territorial behavior of the Capercally roosters during the breeding season. I was proud to show my wound and this photo to my friends, but I also learned my biology lesson. Good thing I wasn’t photographing a bear.
Be Like The Balkan (mountain)
This 100 year old lady and the 6 year old girl are the past and future of the Karakachan ethnos in Bulgaria – traditional shepherd nomads who migrate along the mountain ridges of the eastern Balkans. I spent about an hour around the grandma taking photos of her, yet she was quiet and looking through me as if I wasn’t there. At the end of the session I felt bad about disturbing her and before leaving I bent down and kissed her hand as an act of respect and apology. At that moment she opened her eyes wide and came back from her dimension, raised her hand and blessed me – “Be like the Balkan!” she said. Then she closed her eyes again and went back to her forgotten world.
Shepherd With Karakachan Sheep
This photo helped in the conservation efforts of the rare Karakachan breed of sheep in the Western Balkan mountains. It was published in different media around the world and Bulgaria, promoting the breed, its products and the people who work hard to preserve the breed. Biodiversity of livestock is as important as wildlife biodiversity.
interview with evo
What type of photography would you say you do?
I try to communicate a message with my photos or tell stories about people, animals or a place. I shoot mostly photo-essays and try to show different behaviors or seasons and make the story more interesting. I like to consider myself a conservation photographer.
What inspires you?
My greatest inspiration is Nature, wildlife and people who still live close to the nature.
How did you first get into photography?
I bought my first camera back in 2007. At this time I was working on a conservation project in Central Balkan National Park, so I just started to take photos to document my work. There were a lot of wild horses in the mountains so I made a photo-essay of the horses and submitted in the Bulgarian Lumix Awards photo competition in 2008 and won the grand prize. My success encouraged me to continue with photography and make it a career.
Do you have any formal training in photography?
I am a self-taught photographer, but my formal education is in Fine Arts which has a lot in common with photography.
What type of photography do you enjoy doing most?
I find wildlife photography most exciting.
As far as equipment goes: What equipment do you use now? And what did you start with? How did change in equipment help you in your photography?
I started with canon 350D APSC DSLR and then upgraded to 5D full frame body. With the first camera I tended to convert all my photos to black and white, thinking that color photography is not for me. When I got the full frame I realized that the problem was in my first camera. The difference in the image quality between full frame and the smaller sensors is significant. However, the most important upgrades should be made in our vision and understanding and creativity and then, if possible, get a better camera.
What is typically in your camera bag?
I mostly use zoom lenses with the full frame camera. 16-35 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f4.
How far do you go in post-production?
I limit myself to colors, brightness, contrast or sometimes saturation adjustments. It is important for me that the viewer never realizes that the image was retouched.
Do you have any special editing tools, tricks or secrets that you like to use?
I like to do all the postproduction manually, meaning that I don’t use selection tools or masks. My best tool is my Wakom hand tablet, which gives me great precision. I only use very simple tools such as the erase tool.
What components would you say make up a successful photograph?
There are three components - composition, light and moment. If all three are good the photograph is successful.
What is the most important advice you would like to give others for making good photographs?
Always try to get close and capture the soul of the subject and the feel of the place.
Do you have a highlight or something that you are proud of accomplishing in your photography career?
As a professional photographer, I am most proud of remaining true to myself and to the subjects I like. I would rather shoot what I like or nothing.