Street Photography in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Street photography is a passion of mine, as a young whipper snapper the work of the imperial Henri Cartier Bresson’s Paris was as mesmerizing as it was inspiring, William Klein’s grainy edgy New York and the now so familiar images of Istanbul made by Ara Guller, actually it’s a long list but am not getting into a roll call of photographic superstars, occasionally I can’t help thinking that somehow 1950’s New York or Paris of the ’30’s gives any photographer an edge, Istanbul still has some incredible locations but the modern world with its mass of visual pollution in the guise of capitalistic advertising giving the impression of an explosion in a paint factory means that while Ara still sits drinking his coffee in his Istanbul cafe his city has largely disappeared.
My first real attempt at producing a body of work defined as street photography was in Cairo, ( Cairo Time & Tramlines ) in a teeming city of gazillion people it offered almost overwhelming options, I had to make some rules and limited my project to a set radius of the old Fatimid walls, for a boy who had spent more time in the meadows of the Thames than the city the excitement and exotic was a heady creative cocktail. Much later Istanbul (Istanbul Street Photography ) provided the never-ending urban landscape populated with twenty million potential subjects, some may say it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, perhaps not quite but these cities do provide an engaging backdrop in which to set the characters of endless opportunity and drama limited only by the soles wearing from your shoes.
Moving to Sofia in Bulgaria at the start of the year was an exciting new opportunity to discover a new country, a new city, using street photography as a tool to explore, discover and learn, you pay more attention, you take things slower, you pick out the details, I can’t stress the non-photographic benefits enough.
Now I need to choose my words carefully here; for those that know Sofia and those from Sofia we can agree it’s not a screaming mega city, it has the population of a neighborhood of Istanbul, its gentle, its calm, its green, its empty. For a street photographer it’s a challenge.
The challenge this time was to create a body of work that is not simply a street shot image but one that conveys a sense location, with each location a unique history and culture, I do get a little bored of random images that say very little, technology now allows us to snap with stealth but still it’s no excuse for meaningless images, and since you have asked, I have no preference when it comes to technology but a DSLR is my workhorse and despite its clumsy and noisy attributes serves me well enough.
So here we are then a selection of street shot images of Sofia, a city of undeniable charm, hopefully they will appeal to the more critical Bulgarians amongst us too.
Anyone interested in a personal Street Photography Workshop in Sofia, Cairo or Istanbul drop me an email, I am also preparing on-line mentoring classes for those interested.
Connect on my personal FACEBOOK page for recent shenanigans
And do please drop by my Website
And needless to say anyone wanting to buy a print just send me an email-it helps with the rent.
These are beautiful, thank you!
Sent from my iPad
Thank you Wesley 🙂
love these motions !
Thanks Victor 🙂
Always enjoy your images
I’ll take it as an inspiration, the pictures are most interesting. Usually my shyness hinders me to just snap around in the street; last week I gave it a try on a very special trip but only with my mobile camera and I am just working on putting the best of those pictures on my blogs.
Thank you Susanne
Yes I think most people have issues shooting images of strangers on the street. There are some techniques that can make it easier but its still a question of what kind of image you hope to make.
Did you see my Amman post? Its flying around somewhere.
Yes, actually it was your Amman post that led me to your blog. Nice pictures, too. I am still trying to come up with something nice.
I like your use of light and dark in your B&W pics. Number 3 is so cool, using the lit up sign- I think that is what that is- and the last pic, even the people are shadow. The perspective is unique. That is what I love the most about B&W, you can play with the way we see reality 🙂
Thank you so much
Black and white does open up so many opportunities-
The lights you mention are from a shop window, in Sofia there are these Squat Shops-very unusual hangover from Soviet times.
These shots are amazing!!
Thank you KInga
Your work is incredible-am pleased to find you 🙂
Great shots. After years of only using my phone for snaps, even whilst travelling, I finally bought a light Olympus, and so loving it even though I have a way to go in truly mastering its magic. Thanks for the post, holler if your back in Istanbul:)
Great to connect 🙂 Good luck with the Olympus am sure it will serve you well. Curiously I just arrived back in Istanbul so will holler at some point 🙂
Great, I see we also know some ppl in common. A small world.
Hope the Olympus is serving its purpose? Need any help then feel free to ask.
Istanbul again soon
Cool. Holler when yr here for a catch up x
A beautiful shot
Really interesting and informative post!
Plz check my website. I’m providing Photography post-production
Thank you Ashely
Some of ides
Less populous and busy places are a little harder for street photography, but those images you posted are very nice.
Thank you Jeff
Excellent life images. 🙂
Thank you so much 🙂
Gladly John. Thanks. 🙂
Black and white is where it’s at! Love it!
My grandparents immigrated from Bulgaria about 1900 and I have always wanted to go there. I will enjoy following you and seeing the city through your lense! Your work is beautiful!
Thank you-I should really share more images from Bulgaria.
You should visit though-a pilgrimage
Yes! I love street photography too but living on a farm means I am doing pig photography instead!
Pig photography sounds perfect
Am heading in that direction slowly, not sure about pigs yet but chickens and a goat for sure 🙂
Next time I pass through the area I’ll have to hit you up. Loved Sofia and Istanbul both and want to return to do more street photography!
Lovely photography. My ‘project’ is to limit myself to what can be done with an iPhone. There are limits, but it’s amazing what happens when you’ve always got a camera with you.The ‘tech’ in such mobiles is amazing…
I agree Steve.
Knowing the limitations of whatever you decide to use is key. Technology is just a tool and mobile phones are brilliant for many things
Thank you, John. Just been reading that interviews about your work in Syria. A very admirable ‘project’, though I suspect it was much deeper than that.
Oh wow, your photography is stunning! 😍
Thank you-so lovely of you.
Was checking your site-you have style 🙂
Very nice collection of black & white street photographs!
Thank you Phi
You have some stunning images on your site-well done
The guy on the bike with the phone & the statue with the raised arm (gun): great stuff!; motion, stillness, communication, arms!
Aha yes Nick I do love that shot (if I do say so myself)
Beautiful black & whites! ❤
Thank you Deborah 🙂 x
“you pay more attention, you take things slower, you pick out the details,” YES!!! Shades of Georgia O’Keeffe, taking time to really see a flower… I find that I often see something in a photo I’ve taken that I didn’t catch at the time. Of course, sometimes the photo doesn’t capture what I’d hoped, either. Thank you for your view of the world.
Shades of Georgia O’Keeffe 🙂 I’ll take that.
You are very kind
Update the About page of your blog….)
Impressive work worthy of standing in Cartier-Bresson’s long shadow.
Thank you David
Fine company to be in-I wish
Bresson had quite the talent for the grab shot and a stellar eye. Recently I became aware of Garry Winogard (sp?). Your photo of the young people “posing” and the fellow on the bike reminded me of Winogard’s work.
I love Garry Winogards work
Thank you Glenn for the comment 🙂
Love your photography! We do a lot of nature photography and lifestyle, but not much street photography. Definitely something special about capturing the people living in the places we visit.
Hi John, love the photo’s if you ever find yourself at the coast look me up in Sozopol. I have a basic Nikon D50 and would love to know how to use it !!! May have to be a skill swap tho am skint but can teach you watercolour painting in return ok.
Thank you 🙂
I just moved back to Istanbul from a brief stay in Bulgaria-am coming back often though and love Sozopol. Maybe you noticed some seascape images on my FB page I shot there last bloody cold winter. Anyway would be great to catch up and am happy to help out with the D50
Seeing Cartier-Bresson’s work when I was in college changed my life. Your work is similar. Thanks for posting!
I guess pretty much the same for me I think. My intention was never to copy his style but i guess things get picked up. Thank you or the huge compliment 🙂