There are quite a few true photography perfectionists in Bulgaria, this small and beautiful country on the south-eastern edge of Europe. But there are probably only a dozen photographers, who take that perfection to the skies and to every tiny corner on this planet. One of the latter is Dimitar Karanikolov. The 40-year-old is an architect. The fact that the he became one of the best photographers down here, was some kind of a coincidence. He does architectual visualizations. So he needed someone to shoot premises and buildings from all angles. That someone turned out to be he himself. What is surprising, to say the least, is that Dimitar Karanikolov does not shoot for printed publications. Foreigners&Friends thanks him for contributing many Shots of the Day! He still sees photography as a hobby, while his performance as a photographer is already beyond professional.
Foreigners & Friends Magazine (FF): Recently, you came home with a ton of stunning shots from one of the most exotic places: Mongolia. What kind of an experience was that trip?
Dimitar Karanikolov: I took part in a photo expedition in Mongolia last summer led by the famous travel photographer Timothy Allen ( BBC, Human Planet). We spend several weeks living with remote nomad tribes in the most remote parts of Western Mongolia – on the border with Kazakhstan. There are no roads, infrastructure, electricity, mobile communication there…the Kazakh nomads who populate these lands live like their predecessors 2000 years ago. They move their ger camp 6 times a year in search for fresh pastures. Some families still practise the ancient tradition of hunting with golden eagles. It was a very authentic experience – a real expedition into the wild.
FF: What did you see in China? How, if at all, did your China trip change your view of the world?
Dimitar Karanikolov: I was fascinated of the vast scale of Beijing, how modern and westernised some of the central neighbourhoods are. Also there are some amazing pieces of architecture, such as the Olympic Village, the OMA CCTV building and so many more.
FF: Which other Asian countries did you visit? And which is your favourite photo from that continent?
Dimitar Karanikolov: I’ve been traveling in Indonesia, Thailand, SIngapore, Malaysia, (Borneo) and Japan. My favourite would be this one:
FF: Your own country, Bulgaria, is extremely beautiful too. People forget, when they spend too much time in the Sofia chaos. How important is it to you to show Bulgaria’s beauty?
Dimitar Karanikolov: I used to appreciate more exotic destinations in the past, like Morocco, Iceland or Jordan. But then, recently, I’ve come to realize that all those places are well known to the world and they have been photographed a lot, by many people. So, from my perspective it is more precious to me to photograph a remote village in the Rhodope mountains, which not many people know about. Bulgaria’s countryside offers a huge amount of different types of landscapes and shooting scenarios within easy reach from Sofia. And a lot of places are still undiscovered and interesting to many people. After living in London for seven years and moving back to Sofia, I travel a lot more and I enjoy nature.
FF: You just filmed a stunning “eye in the sky” video of the Veleka River valley. How did you do this? How long did you hike through the forests, for this project?
Dimitar Karanikolov: I did not hike at all. This is a drone shot. I just needed to climb onto a hill, which is 100 meters high, above the river, in order to gain some height, so that the drone remote could work better. The drone can fly 2 kilometers away from you, and up to 500 meters high, so you can get the perfect view wherever you are.
FF: As a photographer, how do you put beauty into this city?
Dimitar Karanikolov: Sofia is an interesting mix of modern and historical buildings, with many beautiful old, dirty houses which are almost falling apart, but at the same time they are very photogenic. They would not be as photogenic if they were clean and freshly painted. All the cracks, stains and untrimmed foliage around them makes them much richer, visually.
FF: Technically, which are your main cameras? And what kind of a drone do you use?
Dimitar Karanikolov: My main “land” gear is a Canon 5Dsr and a Canon 5D Mark III. I also use a Fuji X1-Pro and a small automatic Leica as a support cameras. I got a 360 camera for panoramic shots and couple of DJI Phantom 4 drones.
FF: What is your next project?
Dimitar Karanikolov: I plan to visit Ethiopia next spring.
FF: Do you exhibit your work?
Dimitar Karanikolov: Mainly online at instagram.com/karanikolov and facebook.com/DimitarKaranikolovPhotography. I had my first solo photographic exhibition in Photosynthesis last April with 30 large scale prints from Mongolia.
Dimitar’s website: www.dimitarkaranikolov.com
All pictures on the page by Dimitar Karanikolov. This includes the video.