Ivan was the first photographer I chose from the Flickr group to be featured for the Photo of the Week. His work is super clean and he has definitely claimed the shallow depth-of-field as his signature. He sees the photograph before he shoots it and lights it to his liking. He often crops his images, which is a sensitive subject sometimes, but he makes it work. I asked him to write a bit about his background and experience in photography, and he sent me the following, laid out with the photos and everything. Thanks Ivan!
“My name is Ivan Maslarov and I started riding around 2000 I’ve been shooting since 2009. Shooting for me is stress usually. Flashes are flying down from light stands, batteries are dead, riders are demanding. I like that sketchiness I build on it and I like to think it helps me to stay focused and creative.
Shooting BMX gives a different kind of adrenalin from the one you get from riding. It also has its consideration, preparation and realization phase. And as with most tricks it all lasts just a moment. With digital photography the parallel continues – you understand if you have fallen or landed the shot immediately. I still ride and try to push myself and the camera adds a whole new layer to the experience. The majority of the time I will have all my camera gear when I am out for a ride and I will keep my eyes open for new tricks, new people and interesting spots.
When I was photographing the first very dangerous move to happen in front of my lens I was euphoric when I clicked. Not far away from the way my buddy was happy when he landed safely. You feel very responsible when someone is risking it and when they trust you to document it all. It was only the two of us and we were jumping and shouting out of excitement.
In the beginning the question was whether I buy a video camera or a flash to add to my wife’s canon 350d. I wanted to take part in the experience not only from riding perspective. Once I decided it will be photography I got a single pocket flash and this is where it all started. I was hooked, setting the camera on the ground at long exposure at night and running to snap the rider with light from up close. One power setting one zoom setting, just an on and off button and a trigger one. I slowly geared/geeked up building my kit with a lot of trial and error. I made my steps mostly on my own by reading and by looking at images and trying to analyze them and backwards engineer them.
My first published shot was a great feeling. Looking at your image on paper wedged in the middle of a mass reproduced mag is special.
Shooting with an analog camera is magic. It really feels like a ritual, especially when you take digital for granted. Just the thought that you have some special goo spread over translucent plastic and all that shoved in a dark box is mystical. It’s so superficial to me that I take much more consideration and respect when I practice it.
It is all manual in my case so I somehow connect to it more. The best part is that you don’t see the results instantly. You are forced to question and to try foreseeing. This kick starts your imagination and it makes you more focused on the technical aspect at the same time.
Shooting at night is great. You have so many choices and possible interpretations. It’s easy on the batteries and you can light more space with less energy. They are less people on the way and everything is far calmer, almost like a studio.
I love shooting with natural light – its all there its fires every time and obviously gives a very natural result. In my case I feel like I needed to go a long way with lighting my shots in order to start recognizing great natural light.
My biggest guilty pleasure is overusing shallow depth of field. It really feels like defeating the purpose of a two dimensional representation of reality. It tries to be three-dimensional and it actually is mostly recording blur, which is not really a representation.
I always try to remember that there is not a bad place or weather or light situation. They are only easy and not so easy situations. It just creates a challenge, which usually gets you out of your routine and helps you to develop.
Fish eye is seen as a gimmick, as an over used tool and as taking the easy way. It’s hard to use one! Because it usually introduces a lot more in the frame and because it distorts. You can’t apply it to all of your images but it definitely has its place.”