I really like portraits done with low-key lighting. There is something mysterious, contemplative and dramatic about them that I really enjoy. This is why I was very happy to be able to learn how to take such photos in my photography course this week. Our homework was to practice shooting low-key images, which I did with great pleasure, and since I didn't really have a model available, I just took photos of myself. I think the results are very nice for someone who's done this for the first time.
P.S. As a person who's done her fair share of self-portraits, I feel obligated to say a few things here. It might seem to people that those who take self-portraits are the kind that enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror. Well, you couldn't be more wrong. Sure, there are individual photographers that you'll encounter who are enamored with their own image, but the truth is that most of us who take self-portraits do it for reasons that have nothing to do with our looks. Sometimes it's just that you have nobody else to shoot but yourself, or nobody that wants to do those crazy poses or express those strange emotions that you would like to capture. Sometimes taking self-portraits is a form of healing; it's putting your feelings out there when you feel like you can't put them into words or have no one to share them with. For me, taking self-portraits often involved getting to really know myself, which is something I think everyone should aim to do. Just something to think about for all those self-portrait skeptics out there.
Yes, you heard that right – around here, scary monsters (a special breed of them anyway) chase away evil spirits and bring health, prosperity and luck into the new year. Welcome to Bulgaria, and welcome to the Surva International Festival of Masquerade Games held every January in the town of Pernik!
The games attract more than 5000 participants aged anywhere between 5 and 95 from Bulgaria and abroad, who fill the streets of the town with vibrant colors, unbelievably loud noise and lots of craziness. With their impressive handmade wooden masks decorated with feathers, elaborate costumes covered in wool or ribbons, and enormous bells that clang with every movement of the person wearing them, the Bulgarian Kukeri dancers are all part of one big ritual meant to scare away sickness, bad luck, and evil spirits. The scarier the costume, the better; according to local beliefs, the masks and the deafening sound of the bells both protect from harmful influences and ensure that everyone is blessed with health and prosperity.
Of course, this event is every photographer’s dream, amateur and professional alike. The elated atmosphere, the energy, the rich palette of colors, textures, and shapes, the dancing and the parades all beg to be captured on camera. It is easy to lose yourself in the crowd of masked Kukeri and Survakari, as the audience can freely interact with the participants along the parade routes and the stages throughout the town. All groups end their participation with a grand performance in the main square, which is judged as part of the contest for best masked troupe.
Step into the surreal world of the festival and enjoy my photos of the event below: