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Kiril Kolev: “Photography is for people who don’t like being idle.”

April 5, 2009 by · 1 comment

Natalia Nikolaeva’s interview with Kiril Kolev

What are your signature photos?

The photos that most people like the most are “Stormy Paris” and “Margaretville”. My favourite one is “Playing with a Glass Ball.”


I find capturing people challenging, because there is so much going that is so difficult to convey in a snapshot. This is one of the few photos I’ve taken that does a decent job at that, I think.

Stormy Paris

Galeries Lafayette

How would you describe your work?

Photography is the thing I can do well enough to enjoy and the one hobby that I am reluctant to take to a professional level or do for profit. This approach allows me to do photography for pure personal enjoyment and without pressure. As a consequence, my work is diverse and doesn’t follow some specific technique or theme, but reflects me fairly well.

The Posing Butterfly

Green and Yellow

What inspires you?

The usual: love, disappointment, ambition, even boredom! I hate being bored and I rarely do it. Photography is a good hobby for people who don’t like being idle.

Clouds, Sand and Water

Who has been the greatest influence on your photos?

If I had to pick a person, it would be my grandfather, whose camera and dark room equipment I inherited back in the day. More generally, however, my utter inability to draw and paint has probably made me work towards becoming a better photographer to the greatest extent, since I am an extremely visual person.

The Lighthouse with no Sea

Have you ever been influenced or moved by the reaction to your photos?

A friend of mine once told me she hung one of my photos in her living room. I also sometimes get emails from other users on Flickr. That’s as far along as I’ve come with influencing people, but I am working on it…

Living in Symmetry

What’s your philosophy?

You should be your own harshest critic.

Playing With a Glass Ball

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?

Turn your weaknesses into opportunities to discover new things. If I wasn’t horrible at tennis, I would have never started with basketball. If I could paint, I wouldn’t get into photography. If I could dance … well, that’s wishful thinking.

Wings and Rain

In Flight

Kiril Kolev was born on December 14, 1981 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

He graduated from the American College of Sofia in 2000 and after spending a year at Plovdiv University enrolled at Whittier College in the United States, just outside of Los Angeles, CA, where he graduated in 2004 with a degree in Economics. He is currently working towards obtaining his doctorate in Political Science at Duke University in Durham, NC, doing research on elections.

Kiril devotes most of his spare time to two activities that are as far away from academic work as possible – basketball and photography. Playing sports and attending games provides him with the great opportunity to be social, meet friends and stay active.

Photography fulfills a much different need. He prefers taking photos by himself and you’ll rarely see Kiril snapping away at a school party or any other generic social gathering. Creating images is a way for him to be by himself, really get into the scene and the moment and do his best to capture it.

He believes that the story behind the photo and the mood that accompanied the process of taking it is as important as the photo itself. The complete composition consists not only of the object in front of the camera, but also the person behind it.

He still romanticizes about the film photography era by reminiscing about the serenity and mystery of the dark room – a place he occupied frequently when he was about twelve years old. While acknowledging this now lost aspect of photography, he nonetheless fully enjoys the advent of the digital age.

Photos by Kiril Kolev

Categories: Frontpage · Visual Arts


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