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Artist of the Week – Alexandre Arnaoudov

April 20, 2009 by · 2 comments

I discovered photography in elementary school when I received my first camera, a Smena 8M as a Christmas gift. From then on followed a lot of over- or underexposed films, darkroom experiments, and lots of outings with the camera along the seaside. I grew up in Varna and the sea has always been an inspiration for me. My first publication was in the “Narodno Delo” newspaper, and kind of convinced me that there is an artist living in me. During my studies in the American University in Bulgaria I discovered documentary photography and did a couple of projects about the local Roma community and orphanages.

Some of them ended as publications on the pages of a Roma newspaper, “Drum Dromedar”. After university and a brief military career, my wife and I moved to Boston, MA, USA and I started work for Panopticon, Inc.—a fine art photography gallery. I enjoyed exposure to the work of photographers like Constantine Manos, Elliot Erwitt, Lou Jones, Bradford Washburn, Ernest Withers, and Alex MacLean.

After two years there, we moved to London where I finally started selling my work in a small gallery, but I am still far from making a living out of it. Nature is a constant source of inspiration for me; panoramic photography is what I am excited about right now and I don’t mind digital manipulation of images, as long as it is done creatively and with taste. It is all about the image in your mind.

Why are you a photographer?

I have never had the conviction that I would be a photographer one day. I started taking pictures seriously in high school and from then on it started gradually to grow on me. But I haven’t studied photography or pursued it as a career. It just happened more or less. But why photography? I guess because it makes me focus on what’s in front of me, on the particular moment or scene or event…. because of the magic of the whole process of recording something that will never happen again….

What makes photography art?

Hard to tell; I have seen so many controversial pictures that I am getting confused. I guess it comes down to the interpretation of the image—how it is printed, digital manipulation, cropping, even framing and exhibiting—all those things distinguish a piece of art from a snapshot.

What do you wish to suggest with your photos?

Nothing in particular, but it still depends on the photos and the audience. It is mostly what they make out of them, how they see them and what they see in them. If it is something documentary, then it depends on the particular story or event.

Which is the most interesting place you have been to?

Paris, Prague, my back yard? I try to find interest in even the smallest thing or the most insignificant place. There are opportunities for pictures everywhere and at every moment, so I try to keep an open mind at most of the times.

Which place in the United Kingdom do you find most inspiring?

Haven’t traveled as much as I would want to around the UK, but normally I feel more inspired around water—rivers, lakes, the sea. I would say probably somewhere along the coast of Scotland…if it is not raining too hard…

Do you have a favorite artist?

Cartier-Bresson for his incredible eye, Elliott Erwitt for his incredible humor, Michael Yamashita for his mystical nature photos…but the list can go on and on…

What genre do you prefer and why?

Maybe nature and maybe urban street photography. The first for the solitude, and the second for the gazillion opportunities at every step. Then again, I love documentary and music photography for the human element and the story behind each picture.

What do you hope for?

Enough time to take all the pictures that I see in my head and visit at least some of the places that I have read about.

What is the most unusual shot you have taken so far?

It was New Year in Boston and my wife and I were out to look at the fireworks, but it was so foggy that we could only hear them. I was a bit disappointed and was about to put my camera away when I suddenly spotted a silhouette in a side alley approaching out of the fog. The picture is magical.

What is your strongest motivation?

This would be the little dwarf that lives deep in my brain and starts kicking when I haven’t taken my camera for a couple of days.

What would you really like to memorize with your camera?

Everything deserves to be memorized—the flapping of the bird’s wings, the waves on the shore, the spring blossoms, the dead leaves, the puddle on the street—life is full of little bits and pieces, moments and fragments of time that nobody sees…If I can capture some of those, then I guess I will be happy.

More photos by Alexandre Arnaoudov can be seen here

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