An exciting moment for me is the presentation of Tina Boyadzhieva. She is one of the most colorful narrators of authentic stories and destinies in Bulgarka magazine. The adventures in which he gets involved are always masterfully sealed with the lens. Tina started shooting at the age of 6 with a small Russian camera, which she received as a gift from her grandfather. From that moment on, photography occupies an important part in her heart and radiates life-giving sparks, which she transmits through her creations. But the real adventures begin for her a little later…
When and how did you first feel you really wanted to do photography?
I was six years old when my grandfather gave me my first camera. It was a small, Russian model for children that was actually my mother's. My grandfather was an amateur photographer and used the bathroom as a dark room. I remember looking at his wash bottles and piles of Fotohar boxes. He was a professor of anatomy and taught medical students but also those in the arts. So I grew up surrounded by the sketches and drawings of his students, which he appreciated with my help. Since then, I have always shot people, weddings, traveling, even though I was in the business and economy. People were inviting me to pay for the photos, but I was uncomfortable with the money. The decision to give myself full and endure with photography was a year and a half ago.
Who were the first photographers, place or object, who inspired you?
How did you get the courage to break away from security and comfort to indulge in photography?
It's been a thought process for years. My previous life was perfect on paper. I had a six-figure salary, an apartment in Manhattan, I could afford everything. A prestigious position at Top Companies and Education from Top American University. But in practice I was extremely unhappy and dissatisfied. My family did not understand why I was dissatisfied, and I hated the feeling that I was living someone else's life. For years I read various books about the meaning of life, spent weeks at yoga camps in Bali, went to acupuncture, psychologist, meditation, Reiki and whatnot. And then I realized that the importance of life is to be happy! Doing what satisfies and fills you with life. What you can do to positively influence others. What you always carried inside, but you might not have heard. I also planned to leave the job financially and spend a few months thinking: What should I do with my life? And finally, when I was really bored with reading "inspirational quotes", I just quit my job and decided: somehow, to create my own.
What happens to you when you stand behind the lens?
I forget where I am, what time it is, I do not feel hungry or tired. I only see what I shoot and what I want to create with the photo. When I know that I took a unique (for me) photo, I have the feeling that I live 300% and that even if I am gone tomorrow, I have done my job in this life.
Grandma Residence Project / Photo: © Tina Boyadzhieva
At what point did you feel that the project you were creating was actually so special? Tell us about meetings with the craftsmen and how the idea was born to preserve the authenticity of their talent through your colorful style?
I have been attracted to art and artists since I was a child. I could watch for hours as someone painted, or cut, or made pots. For me, this is "living" art. Even if I was an urban child, I was always curious to see the 200-year-old houses of the people in the neighborhood above Troyan, the animals, the barns, the barrels of wine and bacon, their clothes, strainers, headscarves… I realize that I have always sought authenticity, roots, traditions . When I went to Florence four years ago to study Art History during a vacation, the teacher took me to see a local craftsman. I was all goosebumps and really spent 4 hours with Gilianno and Gianni, looking at their workshop. I watched their hands sculpting all sorts of objects, and they also talked about their lives, the history and culture of work. Even then, the desire was born to photograph not only them, but also a number of others who survived and remained in the neighborhood. At that time I worked in the financial sphere and I didn't even have a professional staff. It seemed impossible to find time for such pictures. This summer I went for 2 months and found accommodation just above their workshop and I knew the time had come. What I saw through the lens, these 3 pairs of hands creating unique objects of all kinds and listening to the incredible stories of generations of masters, was for me a unique privilege and experience, more expensive than any deal I've worked on in recent 25 years.
It was a similar experience with the fishermen in Sicily. I was in the Aeolian Islands with a girlfriend last year. We were rather entertained when a fisherman showed me a photo of his phone to Mario, a fisherman and artist from Stromboli. I got on the next ferry for there, found him at the dock and told him I came to shoot him. So now I'm going back to Stromboli for the third time. I already feel part of the fisherman family - 5 brothers who look like Santa Claus on vacation. I lived in their house, went out with them by boat, ate fish, watched Mario draw, filmed the christening of his great-grandchildren, the celebration of the island on the occasion of San Bartolo, and more. Again, this pushed me to seek roots, a tradition almost anthropologically, but also artistically.
photos: © Tina Boyadzhieva
Tell us about exhibitions "The ARTisans " & "Cara Sicilia “…
The ARTisans became spontaneous. One of the artisans offered me his shop, which occupies space from 14 in. It was a unique and perfect combination of what I wanted to show with my photos. His space where his great-grandfather's swords and helmets hung, the emblems of the family, the very building where 4 generations of his kind worked as upholsterers for the most noble and wealthy families in Florence and Italy. The biggest compliment was to see the craftsmen themselves, who, when they first saw their photographs, told me that I had presented not only their work but also their soul.
The ARTisans / photos: © Tina Boyadzhieva
"Cara Sicilia" was my first major exhibition. An old palace in Taormina from the 16 century, which has now become a foundation for the arts. I met the director of the foundation and showed him the photos of the fishermen from last year. They gave me a whole floor, the last weeks of August this summer. Then most tourists came, so I felt energized to perform well. There was an exhibition of a very prestigious photographer on the floor below me and I didn't want to exhibit. I didn't have much money for the exhibition, so I decided to put my photos on crates and hang them with a cord for the wall - close to the "fishing" theme of the photos. Even though one always thinks that he or she can perform better, I think that it turned out great. I was featured in two of the biggest newspapers in Southern Italy as a Bulgarian photographer, as well as in many local art blogs and websites. Many people have left me messages about how they were able to see at first glance the banal scenes of Sicilian life in a completely different light and how I was able to combine the wild with the spiritual and the beautiful.
“Cara Sicilia” / photos: © Tina Boyadzhieva
What are your main goals as an artist? What do you want to show with your photos and how do you actually get to that point?
My travel photos aim to perpetuate cultural heritage, traditions, and incredible characters that may not exist after 10-20 years. My portraits of clients are to show them their inner and outer beauty as I see them. I believe that each of us is beautiful in our own way and has our own purpose for existence. The best photos (scenes) on the street come when I follow the action and the composition. It takes time, but I find the second in which they are arranged in the right places. Their faces and poses show something individual and different. When I take portraits or people, I try to touch their soul. We talk, I listen, I tell them things from my life, I do everything I need to anticipate them, so that their true self will come out. Half of one portrait is a relationship with a photographer, even if it is not the most prestigious or the longest experience.
San Bartolo / photo: © Tina Boyadzhieva
Which contemporary person do you admire the most?
I cannot say that I follow people of today, whether they are politicians, artists or professionals. I admire every single person. Whether he is rich, poor, educated or not, living a full life pursues his dreams, regardless of barriers or age. Who is positive, devoted to others, individual, knows and respects himself, has accepted the unpredictability of life, does not judge, and who inspires others with the power of spirit and the way he chooses to live.
Tina, tell us about your childhood in Bulgaria and your first attempts at photography?
I was born 1978 year. I was from the first 6 graduation year at school. I didn't even know I was going to school. I was a queen, then a pioneer. My first contact with foreigners other than Russians was the Children's Assembly "Banner of Peace" - an incredible experience for my 8 years. We lived in a room, kitchen and bathroom, with my parents for rent, on the 7 floor of a panel block in Mladost 1. My dad used to work at CIIT and buy me chewing gum and using green apple deodorant. My mother also worked at CIIT and was very happy to buy me the only Lego designers on the market. I remember her painting with water paints. They had a turntable for hours listening to Boney M and Tina Turner dancing on the couch as if on stage. In the morning, as I was being groomed for kindergarten, I listened to Radio Horizon and sang Lily Ivanova's full voice of "Clovers". My grandparents were wonderful people. They had patience for everything that gave birth to my fantasy. I spent hours sewing dresses with my grandmother on the Singer sewing machine, which I then garnished with her 50 seamers. My grandfather used to take me to the Museum of Natural History every Thursday, and we were playing the "seeker," according to Pippi the Long Stocking. My other grandmother was a teacher at a music school in Pleven. It was strict, but it wasn't. Her husband was a doctor and a "soul" man. She was very fashionable and always listened to Italian music. I had said I would marry him when I grew up.
Posted in National Geographic Daily Dozen on September 22, 2015 / Photo: Tina Boyadzhieva
If you can go back 10 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
You are allowed to be yourself. Enjoy life. Everything can change, even from the beginning. Money is made in different ways. The important thing is to find what fills you inside.
What motivates you to continue to shoot intellectually, politically, economically and emotionally?
The reactions of people who see my photos. They are clients who regain self-esteem after a divorce, separation with a close or young family, who take pictures for the first time after waiting for a child for years. Or are they just some craftsman's uncles who don't visit, and suddenly see themselves and their art in a different light. It's what fills me with energy and tells me I'm on the right track. And that even with great sacrifices, everything is worth it!