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Pavel Pronin – Each of my pictures carries a story, emotions and memories

December 6, 2008 by · 4 comments

An interview with the photographer Pavel Pronin by Natalia Nikolaeva

“All art is autobiographical;
the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography”
– Federico Fellini

Fresh, bathed in light and emotional are the photographs by Pavel Pronin. Before anything else, the pictures, captured by a 21 year old photographer, enchant you with his deep love towards nature and the understanding of its beauty.

Another interesting fact is that Pavel comes from Russia, graduates from City University of Seattle in Bulgaria and is greatly impressed by our mountains, waterfalls, forests and the overall unique variety of the Bulgarian nature.

Below you can read the interview and enjoy some interesting photographs by the young photographer.

How did you discover photography for yourself?

I have always enjoyed taking pictures, however, I did not have the opportunity to shoot what I really liked – nature and mountains. As a student you have neither the time nor the means to travel a lot by yourself and to take photos.

My hobby began to transform into something more during my last year at the City University of Seattle in Pravets, Bulgaria. Pravets is a really picturesque city; situated among mountains, its nature inspires you to grab your camera and hike the nearby mountains in search of beautiful shots. Whenever I had some free time I took my camera and hiked the hills and peaks, took pictures of nature and animals. With each new trip I started to realize that this is what I really enjoy doing.

After a few months of practice with a simple point and shoot camera I decided to invest into a better, entry-level Canon camera which I have dreamed of for quite some time. That corresponded with my graduation and I have started traveling around the country taking photographs. During the last couple of months not a week went by without a new place visited and new pictures taken.
Pravets inspired me to shoot and the internet gave me the opportunity to show other people what I do.

Kostenec Waterfall

What does photography give to you as an emotion, as a feeling?

For me photography is something completely mine, and by that I mean that I discovered it for myself, I travel by myself and I take pictures by myself without being dependent on anyone else. It gives me some sort of a relaxing feeling and it is something I really enjoy doing. Nature photography is different than most other forms of photography – you need attention, patience and you do not depend on anyone else by yourself. I love being by myself in the mountains. Only me and my camera.

How does Bulgaria and its nature attract and inspire you?

Bulgaria has a lot to offer, it has something for anyone. Come to think of it, it even has mountains for everyone: some people enjoy the Balkan Mountains (like me), others prefer Rila, etc. For some, vacation means resting on the beaches of the Black Sea, for others – in the countryside, and the list goes on…
If you have some free time Bulgaria has a lot of wonderful opportunities for everyone. There is the Vitosha mountain accessible for children and the retired, there are the rough terrains of Rila and Pirin for those preferring a more extreme and exciting adventure, there are the villages of the Iskar River defile with houses built on cliffs.

I don’t want to sound like a tourist agent, but Bulgaria has some great nature and if you have a camera and some free time, you will be able to take some great shots. And the best thing is that everything is close, for example the Black Sea is just a few hours drive from some stunning cliffs of the Balkan Mountains.

Red Forest

Do you plan in advance what pictures you want to take or are you spontaneous in photography?

For me, being spontaneous is important in taking good nature shots. You can not go into the mountains expecting to get a certain picture, you have to hope you will get it, but never plan it. Plans are the worst enemy of nature photography.
I am saying that because there are a lot of small and big factors which affect pictures to various degrees. For example you can never be certain that the sky will be blue and that white puffy clouds will be slowly floating enhancing your every shot. You can never predict whether you will meet some animals, that the sun will not hide behind clouds or that there will be mist on lakes in the early morning.

My best photos are spontaneous. They are made during those moments when all the important factors combine and the nature opens up and lets you grad the opportunity of a good picture. During these rare moments you have to find a perfect place to take that good shot. While if you plan something, you might wait all day in one place and get nothing in the end.

For example my shot of a cow drinking from a river in Pravets is an example of a spontaneous picture. If I had come to that place just a minute later, there would have been no picture. The shot was taken as I was just finishing my mountain hike and had just left the forest nearby, I saw the cow and immediately rushed to it and managed to take only one picture before it left.
That is why for me photography is a spontaneous, yet fragile art. You can never be certain of what you will get and pictures taken at the same place with even a few minutes apart can be completely different.

Тhirsty Cow

What are your favorite themes in photography?

I love shooting nature, but you can find “nature” in city parks as well, but that is not the type I need. I am talking about mountains and forests which you can roam for a whole day without meeting a single living soul. Such places are ideal for photography. There is calmness and the nature opens up just for you and invites you to take photographs.
When I hike by myself through the mountains I pay attention to details and search for good shots and the best present I can get in the mountains is when I meet a herd of cows, horses or some other cattle. When there are animals, there are always good pictures. But when you are at a good location, the weather is nice and there are animals – you are in luck. The last time this present was given to me in Central Balkan near the Raiskoto Praskalo Waterfall. The place is stunning by itself, but at that day all the factors I’ve mentioned earlier were combined and in addition a herd of horses came by. That was a great moment for me and my camera.

The Herd and The Mountains

I also like taking pictures of waterfalls and rivers with a tripod and long exposure to capture the effect of moving water which changes the whole photograph as compared to a simple shot of the same place.

The Stick

Besides nature, I also enjoy night photography in big cities. I am talking again about long exposure and tripods, but this time used to capture the effect of moving cars which show up as lines of red or yellow on pictures.

30 Seconds of Life

What is necessary to get an amazing shot?

I can’t speak for other types of photography, but in nature photography there are no specific rules. Sometimes under the most unexpected circumstances you can take a great shot. But still, there are some basic factors which influence nature photography to some extent. One of the most important ones is definitely the sky. Sometimes even if you are in a seemingly boring place, a great blue sky with interesting clouds allows you to take a decent shot. The opposite however is not true: photo taken in an amazing place can turn out disappointing on a day with a boring sky. When I talk about a boring sky I mean the one you see on an especially warm day when its colour is light blue, there are no clouds and you can not see the horizon.

Autumn Silence

Do you believe that every picture tells a story?

For me personally every each of my pictures carries a story, emotions and memories which are mine. I remember like it was just yesterday the conditions under which I took each of my photographs. When I look at my pictures, I think of the people I met, the places I visited, the experience I had.

It is true what they say, a picture does tell a 1000 words. You can describe in many ways a sunset at the black sea, but to see a good picture of it is quite different.
Each of my pictures carries a memory not only for me, but for the people who have visited that place some time ago. From time to time I receive commentaries for my pictures from people who had visited the places I did and through my photographs they remember their own stories and experiences associated with those places. It also happens that some people visit the places they see on my pictures and that in turn creates some precious memories for them.

The Two Sisters

I myself prefer to discover new places and to show them in my pictures, but sometimes I too get inspiration from the photos I see and plan my new adventures based on them.

What would you wish for the people who see your photographs?

I wish that those people would visit the places they see on my photographs. Bulgaria is a beautiful country but a lot of people ignore that and associate it with the concrete seaside hotels of the Black Sea or the expensive and crowded winter mountain resorts. I suggest that everyone who likes (or dislikes) my work grabs a camera and starts shooting and discovers the magic of nature by themselves.

Brave Tree

Do you have some other favorite art besides photography?

I have always loved and continue to love the art of cinema. As a kid I used to shoot short movies with my friends and relatives and dreamed of becoming a director. Among my favorite movies is the Italian neo-realist masterpiece “The Bicycle Thieves” by Vittorio de Sica, spaghetti-western “Once Upon a Time in the West” by Sergio Leone and “Amelie” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
It is not easy for me to name just three favorites since I like a lot of various films from the comedies of Monty Python to films by Tarkovskiy, Wong Kar Wai, Kubrick, Fellini, Kurosawa, Ryazanov, Zvyagintsev and many more.

From the recent films I consider “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” to be an exceptional film, a true stand out in modern cinema.

I also like good TV Shows. Many people disregard this as a form of art, but in my book shows like “Arrested Development” and “Lost” are true masterpieces of their corresponding genres and much better than 90% of the films shown in cinemas nowadays.

Sit and Relax

Do you have favorite books? Could you share your favorite quote with us?

As some people might guess by my nickname, my favorite author is Dostoevskiy and his book “Crime and Punishment”. Besides this great Russian author I read some contemporary (for example Dmitriy Lipskerov) and other classic Russian writers. From the world literature I like “Les Miserables” by Hugo.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Dostoevskiy’s “The Idiot”: It’s life that matters, nothing but life — the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all.

Bulgarian Coastline

What are your dreams?

I dream of being able to continue taking pictures throughout my life and to widen the geography of my work. Just last year at this time I had a few pictures from Pravets while now my gallery features images from all over the country. There are many more places left to visit and I hope that next year will be even more successful in terms of new pictures than the current one. In addition, there is always room for improvement in the equipment used so new lenses is definitely something I dream of.

Pavel Pronin, born 31.05.1987 in Russia. Has been living in Bulgaria since 2003 and graduated from the City University of Seattle in Pravets, Bulgaria in 2008, specialty area: general management. Lives in Sofia; photography is his hobby.

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