Talks On the road: Conversation with Bulgarian Travel Photographer Lomovera

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Talks is a series of blog posts I am planning for 2016. They will feature people that are interesting to me for what they do and what they do is what we’ll be talking about in the form of short interviews. I will try to extract and deliver as much insights and inspiration as possible. For my first ‘Talks’ post I invited Vera Gotseva, a.k.a. Lomovera. Vera is a journalist, a photographer and a traveler and what we talked about is travel photography. Check out below how to turn traveling into habit, what you can learn on the road and where to look for inspiration. Drop a comment below if you want to ask Vera something. I would like to know your thoughts and tips about the series too, so don’t be shy. Follow Vera on Instagram and stay tuned for her upcoming website.

Vera, it’s a pleasure to have you on my blog. We’ve known each other for some time, mainly communicating through “likes” on Facebook and Instagram, and casually exchanging advice on photography and gear, but something about you in my news feed changed in the last few months. You began to post Instagram pictures from amazing destinations around Bulgaria, like you were taking side roads, and exploring the whole country.  I got the feeling that at one point you started travelling much more than usual, like every week and so. I decided that more people should see your photos, and I selfishly wanted something that beautiful as your photo collection on my blog!  And frankly, I am curious how you decided to travel that way.

 


Have you always been traveling like this? It seems to me that in the last 4-5 months your escapes from the city became much more frequent. Is that true?

 

Yes, it‘s true. I travel every week somewhere outside Sofia. Sometimes even twice a week, and that doesn’t even include evenings where simply I simply go to a nearby town for a dinner.

 

“Emotions, yet peace. To become strong you must take time alone to focus on your own thoughts. That’s how you grow empathy and self-respect within yourself.” Do you travel to take some time alone? What do you get from it?

 

Ha, you‘re quoting me from one of my photos on Instagram? Well, I travel to meet myself for sure. Sometimes that means I’m on the road quite literally alone, sometimes not, but in both cases I get the feeling that I’m alive. The road is a big teacher for me, no doubt about it. Furthermore, travel and observation of the world around us teaches us to be more concentrated. Traveling is the point at which we attend fully. An endless moment when we may capture the time. This moment is all we have.

Tell me some of your recent destinations? Did you plan them or you just drive until you reached them?  

 

Usually I travel wherever I want without any plan. I typically just pick a direction, North or South, and start to drive. I very rarely plan my travels and this allows me to pick a new direction in the moment. I constantly find new places. This is great. Even in the few cases where my travels have a clear plan, I allow myself to follow my instant desires and road itself. To travel is to be yourself, to be free.

 

What do you look for when travelling?

 

Everything and nothing in particular. The world around us is so beautiful. I enjoy the sunrise, the sunset or a tree by the roadside. I’m equally inspired by a stranger in a unknown village as the sight of a soaring bird in the sky. As I said, I’m not looking for anything in particular when I travel, but I find everything that surrounds me so beautiful. .

 

Sunset in late Autumn. A mother is playing with her son. #exklusive_shot

A photo posted by Vera Gotseva (@lomovera) on

What did you find when travelling?

 

The World. Nature, which I find so much meaning in. I think we’re losing our connection with nature and we‘re become more and more self-centred and this is a dangerous trap. I’m not trying to preach, but I think every one of us must be reminded that life flows all around us, no matter what we have going on in our busy modern lives. And I think that the values we’re always seeking – love and freedom – are things to experience and share. And nature and the world is here to help us to find these values inside ourselves. Sometimes the path understand ourselves counterintuitively lies in our willingness to look outside ourselves. When I travel, I get to watch the miracle of nature. When I try to capture it with my camera, when I smile at everything I pass on my road, all of these experiences overwhelm me and bring me great peace and happiness. Peace and happiness of knowing that someday my dust will be a part of this beautiful nature around me.

 

What’s your typical traveling setup? Some habits you can share?

 

I travel with a backpack, or a small leather bag where there is always something left over from the previous trip. I always have a smartphone, a small film camera or Polaroid and a paper notebook. I rarely write anything in it, but I like the feeling that I have it with me. Recently, I’ve been driving different cars, for one reason or another. I also always have lot of water and a bottle of my favorite white wine. I have a pretty worn roadmap of Bulgaria. I like to pick places on it.

 

Let’s talk about photography. Tell me more about your traveling gear. Do you still shoot on film? What gear have you used for the photos in the post?

 

Over time, my feeling for photography has materialized more and more. Yes, I still shoot on film as well as with a digital camera, but the truth is that now I’m shooting mainly with my smartphone. The idea of photography has changed. It is no longer a frozen, and in some sense untouchable, secret known only to few. Photography is now much more instant sharing of experience. That’s why Instagram has such power. When I shoot something with my phone I’m using VSCO. I barely touch my film photos. I like them raw. The most important thig photographers need to develop isn’t film or pixels any more, it’s the ability to see.

 

Do you have favorite travel photographers you get inspired from? Maybe some on Instagram?

 

I don’t have favorite travel photographers. On Instagram, I follow mainly collective accounts, which put pictures of different people. The good thing is that every day I find someone who I like in a new way. I’m constantly discovering new people who inspire me.  But if I must pick some good Bulgarian Instagram accounts I highly recommend @finfilm, @mihailpopov and @sosofia.

 

When I looked at your Instagram account I saw a very clear transformation in the last 20 weeks, meaning the continuity of the traveling shots. Can this turn into a some sort of a long-term project? A blog? A book? A secret society?

 

You’re right. In the recent months I pondered an idea that I‘m realizing now and will develop further. To do a weekend field trips for three or four people, to travel with them and to show them how to shoot and how to find the right things in the beauty of the road. My idea actually came from fans of my page on Facebook. At some point, a few people wrote to me asking if they can travel with me. I’m starting workshops on the road with main topic “Storytelling with photography”. This workshops will be for no more of four people. We will go somewhere new, we’ll do something new and we’ll experience something new. And I’ll help them to put everything in a photo story. It found it beautiful, this shared feeling of experience the road and the photographs along the way. I already test it with some people and it was very personally satisfying to share my knowledge and passion for photography with them. The combination of photography, travel and conversations makes a shared experience in which we discover the world in a new way. That makes us more empathetic. In the next months I am planning more of these excursions.

 

Give me some songs you play loud in your car just when you get out of Sofia on a journey.

 

They are not one and two. I always have the whole album of Bon Iver from 2011. And when I  hear the first chords of Perth my  heart start to sing. When I’m alone on the road I often listen to the radio, “Hristo Botev“. This takes me to another world. The programs, the people who call. I love hearing their stories. Sometimes I laugh so loud, you know.

 

Tell me about an interesting person you met when traveling in the last few months.

 

Oh, there are so many stories. You know I’m a journalist and I am curious about everything in this world. I believe that every person has at least one interesting story to share and I find it very nice when you meet someone on the road and can hear their story. You’ll be amazed how much people have to say and how many of them are willing to share everything if you are willing ask the right questions and listen. To ask and listen to the answers has always come naturally to me. I think if we all paid attention to each other and asked real questions, we would be much freer and open. And this makes us more empathic. Empathy is the another name of love.

 

Some future short trip plans?

 

The weekend is coming. I feel the Rhodopes mountains in my future.

Some long trip plans?

 

When my weekends become five days I’ll tell you. I have a few more ideas I’m working on. We’ll talk again.

I guess happy birthday to me. 🎈🎈🎈 #happybirthday #vscobulgaria2016 #vscocam #objects

A photo posted by Vera Gotseva (@lomovera) on

 

Ok, now give me your personal favorite travel shot of yours?

 

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Thank you, Vera.

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