Interview with Nick Chaldakov
Nick Chaldakov, a Bulgarian photographer full of creative energy. Since childhood he has been trying to find the abstract form in normal things. When he found out about photography and he got his first camera at the age of 10 he started to make pictures of these abstract forms and people were amazed by the quality of the pictures.
Since then he has came a long way. His passion, art photography, has turned into his profession and he now is contracted with a lot of quality photography publishers.
Pieter Hoogenboom had an exclusive interview with him.
Hi Nick, thanks for doing this interview. Could you first tell me something about yourself?
I am 35 years young, I'm born 31 January 1967 in Burgas, a city located along the Black Sea, Bulgaria, a country founded more than 1300 (one thousand and three hundreds) years ago.
When and how did you come in contact with photography for the first time?
My first contacts with photography were spontaneous, immediate and exciting, like a fall in love at first glance. When was 4 years old I used to play with photo films; they were my loveliest toys. My parents wondered why I was so happy with such unusual toys. When was 7 years old I contacted for the first time with photo camera, that of my father, university medical school MD and cell biologist/electron microscopist. At the age of 10 years, having my own camera, a Russian "Smyana Symbol", I made my first photography.
Why did you think you liked photography so much?
When speaking about photography I am always exciting. I love people and light. The light has its own language. I name it photography. For me photography is a way for communication with others, an expression of my insights and emotions into images. I like to convey them to others. The lightly language of photography is my loveliest language. When was 13 years old I was member of School Photography Club under tutorship of Sir Dimo Mughilarov. Then, for the first time, I saw how from the white sheet of photo paper one can obtain an image. This was a great event that impressed me forever! And, provoced me to also see my insights printed. Photography provides me with such a chance, and because I cannot draw she becomes an ideal methodology of expressing my understanding of the light. Hence my photography is my own drawing language, my kanji (Chinese pictograms) for talking with people worldwide.
Where did you study photography?
My permanent teacher in photography is the light. In other words, I am a permanent student in the School of Light. Anyhow, I started studying photography firstly at home, and later at School Photography Clubs, my first teachers being Dimo Mughilarov, Garo Keshishian, Alexander Nikolov, and Krassimir Delchev, among the best Bulgarian photographers. I am grateful to my parents, Drs Antoaneta and George Chaldakov, for their continuing encouragement and support. In 1991-1992 I studied in a photography college in London, UK under tutorship of Dr CJ Stratmann. In London, I did realize that, in fact, I have, in advance, have learned a lot from my Bulgarian teachers. Furthermore, at the same time that I appreciate the importance of a favorable school, university, workshop etc educational environment for the artistís development, I strongly believe that self-education must be actively pursued and that personal will and devotion are the major force for achieving success. "Any man could, if he was so inclined, be the sculptor of his own brain." quoting Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Nobel prize winner for Medicine or Physiology in 1906.
What made you decide to go study photography?
In fact, between the three targets of my dreams - sailing, cinema and video, and art photography, I definitely chose the art photography 4 years ago. I am still remembering what an English lady said to me in "The Photographers Gallery" in London: "Young man, you must take photos and do nothing else. Whatever else you do, it is waste of time for the world art photography."
What other photographers' work do you like?
I pleasantly view images produced by my colleagues. Indeed, I learn from these images, though appreciate highly a few of them. Anyhow, my "short-cut" list of photographers includes Alan Marsh, art and commercial photographer in London, I used to work for him at his studio; Brian Hamilton, a British stock photographer, living in Belgium, I worked with him in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Paris last year; Misha Gordin, Steve Bicknell, and Dominic Ciancibelli, online photographers. Lee Frost, a photo writer, Also my Bulgarian colleague-friends, Alexander Ivanov, Vlado Kadankov, Peter Petrov, and Tzetzo Chetashki, Vyara Chaldakova, Valia Krasteva, also my close friends, Krassi Denev and Dr Vacho Drumev, positively influence my photographic work. I can say I have been influencing by others, to finally be different from them, thus developing my own style in both thinking and expression. Briefly, I am like others, but differ from others, who appreciate my other-ness. A part of that are my images of Simple Abstract.
What are important aspects of good photographic work, for example lightning etceteras? First and most important thing is the talent and one of its expressions, the originality of the viewpoint. In my eyes, good photographic work is a result of a creative technology of the interpretation of an object/subject rather than mechanics of objectives, filters alike. It is not the object/subject itself, but the artistís viewpoint about it that makes a good image. There are no "average" objects/subjects, there are "average" viewpoints about them: such an "average-ness" cannot result in good photographic work. Perhaps, the lightning of oneís insight is the key of good artistic work.
What equipment do you use to make your photos?
Think that exploring your own viewpoint, each subject/object can be transformed into an excellent art image. The equipment is just a tool, mediator, methodology used to exteriorize your viewpoint by means of photography. My recent images are obtained using Nikon D2h, Nikon F5 or Nikon FM2 new, and objectives Nikor 80-200/2.8, Tmaron macro 90/2.8, Nikor 12-24/3.5-4.5, sometime Nikor 24 - 85/ 3.5-4.5
What do you think is the future for photography, what will photography be in 2100?
Hand-making development and printing will continue be done in parallel with digital technologies. Perhaps, photography will somehow be mixing with other image-producing arts. Yet, classical photography being improving in its ideogenesis, abstraction, and methodology will increasingly be appreciated. Unfortunately, the present daysí insufficiency in generation of humanistic ideas, as well as the commercialization of both individuals and society, appears to be a global problem including in the art photography. This may inhibit the inspiration and creativity. I believe that we have to more focus on replacing commercialization and hard (not friendly) competition with collaboration to bringing a better world through education, art, and science.
Do you never get tired of your job?
Although the devotion to work is the major source of creative energy, it is physiologically to get tired of work.
What is your global opinion on abstract art?
When an abstract image is expression of oneís insights, its an act of unconscious. I think this is the artís future. Believe that the development of science will progress in parallel with that of the spirit. Hope that in a near future science will bring more evidence about the spiritís entity. Abstract art will also contribute to that. Still hidden in the depth of our spirits/souls is the truth of the human lifeís meaning and purpose. Abstract art stays most closely to that truth. Abstraction is the soul of art, a mind and spirit-print. Abstraction is a way to honestly express the uniqueness of oneís spirit and mind. This is why I am devoted to the abstract photography. I am looking for my soulís truth. Conveying my images may also be SOS for others. The rest, for example, a huge house, a super new car, a lot of money, should not be in-priority-target for the artist. This puts limitations to the freedom of artistís creativity.
What kind of paid photography assignment projects do you usually get?
Although I am mostly freelance photographer, sometimes I get paid assignments. Usually, such assignments are very difficult projects for me because of their limitation impact over my free expressions. Thus I prefer to work for clients who accept my style, thus let me be "freelanced" in such assignment work. In such a way both clients and I get satisfaction.
After you finish your assignments at a day, do you still have time to photograph for yourself and not for an assignment then?
Think you may find the answer of this question in the answer of the previous question.
How did you get the 'fame' you now have got with large photography companies like for example Alamy.com?
Contemporary photographers are lucky with the existence of Internet. If one is talented and productive, her or his talent and production can easier be discovered now than during Van Goghís time. At present more than 100 people per day visit my web site Photography Gallery. I learn from them via their evaluations of my images. I established my web site on 20 April 1999. And, piano piano it becomes increasingly popular. The first institutional recognition I got was by profoto.com. This was followed by fineartindex.co.uk Look, these guys, on their first page, entitled my presentation provocatively: "Is Nick Chaldakov the best photographer in Europe?" Further, I got contract with Alamy.com. My Photography Gallery is also presented by: Solidexpressions.com - art online dealer; Steve Bicknell - private art dealer - Art Photo Shop, London, UK; Evan's Wall Galleries - private art dealers, USA; Artacademy.co.uk; Arteutile.net; Refocus Now.co.uk; SpeedPix.com, Lookingforart.co.uk; Centralarray.com; Rightimage.com; Pixiport.com; Trailingsilence.com
What is your opinion on using digital equipment (computers etc.) with your photography work?
In my eyes, the digital technology is a mediator, an additional tool only. This technology facilitates getting images I cannot get using the classical way.
Why do you give workshops to people?
To in vivo share my way in art photography.
Don't you think that talent is a given thing what you can't learn?
Talent is a multiplex matter, one life being short to be fully developed. The expression of oneís talent may be provoked by proper, on time education followed by continuing self-education.
Do you think that by doing this workshop you really let people discover their talent?
Any talent has its own clock, also its own growth. Hopefully, my workshops may help my studentsí talent to further be developed.
Photography and film (not video) are two things that lay closely together, did you ever experiment with film or do you think you ever will?
I am not cooperative I am independent. Hence better to keep with and doing photography. So many people are involved in doing cinema, while one is enough in taking pictures. Further, I have somehow strange ideas, which are not easily accepted by others; indeed, once my ideas are appreciated, the end product can be excellent.
Are you active in other areas of art, like Painting, Literature (writing), Poetry or Music?
I am not active in other areas of art. Surprisingly, I photographed one group of my abstract drawings that was appreciated by Steve Bicknell. As you can guess from our talk, I am focusing on art photography, feeling I am just at the beginning of my work.