Creative Tracks Series - Beyond the platform : Georgi Bonev

Georgi is a freelance photographer specialized in adventurous storytelling. He received a RCF/Creative Tracks travel grant to go to Tehran to develop his artistic and entrepreneurial activities.
What is your professional background?
I graduated marketing management and I started my first job in this field. However, few years later I decided to initiate a radical shift in my career. All this due to my desire to working on photography projects. But my idea was not just to snap beautiful pictures but rather to be able to turn this into visual storytelling.
How and why did you start your cultural venture?
This was result of a long process initiated in 2007. At that moment I reallocated to South Korea in pursue of my MBA degree. During this period, I learned to appreciate every moment of my life as well as to have a hobby to inspire me. This is how I developed strong passion for photography. Upon my return to Bulgaria I started to question the ordinary norm of living a life «study - work - retire - live». Gradually the seed in my brain start growing and growing until I became more brave and decided to quit my « good corporate job » and focus on long term photography project. I wanted to do something more meaningful. The more I was thinking about it, the clearer it became. Photography and indigenous cultures encouraged me to be bold. In 2014 I did a test project in Ethiopia, where I did my first voyage in the world of tribes. It was fabulous. After this experience I organized my next expeditions to Papua New Guinea, Mongolia and Morocco. In all these places I lived together with the tribes, in order to get to know them better and deep dive into their culture. Only by doing so, I could capture the tribes with my camera at their best. The life-philosophy of all tribes is very simple. They focus on the family, community wellbeing and happiness. I feel those people represent what is the origin of the modern humans and they can remind us of what are the important things in life to consider. In our society often times we pursue the possession of things and collection of likes/followers on popular social media. We turned into kind of super consumers. Despite that we live in hyper connected world, many people feel lonely. Many individuals became aware how fake all those norms are. The project “Vanishing Worlds” is something I do as a freelancer. At the beginning it was a journey about my personal desire. However, with the time it grew bigger. And I felt I should share my experience with others and perhaps inspire people to live differently.
Please present your project about Vanishing World in Iran
My original idea was to to promote my project “Vanishing Worlds” in Iran. I met several people and organization who expressed their willingness to help me organize my exhibition there. The reason to choose Iran were that I am interested in closed society cultures. Also I have heart many fascinating stories about this land from friends. Last but not least, the relationship between Iran and Bulgaria on a political level is excellent. This makes travelling there much easier. Once arrived in the country, I was very pleased to discover how open minded and kind Iranian people are. After I explored big part of Tehran art world, it became clear that my trip can provide many more opportunities. My hosts did the extra mile and helped me find few isolated tribes, still living in the deep countryside of Iran as per ancient tradition dating prior the establishment of Persian empire. The hospitality of the Iranian people is fabulous. Despite the fact that I had to return to Europe due to my visa expiration date, I was inspired again to continue and put even more efforts into “Vanishing Worlds” project.
What impacts do you anticipate?
My message is to encourage people to preserve their own culture. People often forget their origin as well as fundamental beliefs and virtues.
What is your strategic approach to insert your venture in the local (and international) cultural market?
I have been shooting photos for big companies. However, this gave me limited room to express my own view. Based on that I developed my strategy to pursue rather a niche market instead of trying to do an impact on already saturated one. I do adventure photography and there are a plenty of experienced photographers on this market. It will require huge efforts to be successful and receive recognition by the public and my peers while achieving small impact. However, with the tribes and their environmental context, I realize this provides interesting opportunity because it echoes the big global challenges and represents what I am passionate about. I believe this project can bring actual value for the society.
What are the next steps for the development of your project?
First of all, I need to build the awareness of “Vanishing Worlds” project. I am starting with the communication to the local audience in Bulgaria and Romania because I live in both countries at the moment. Then in the next stage I will place my project on the global stage. To make people more familiar with my work in my own country, I got in touch with several popular media. I selected them carefully to be relevant for the audience I am targeting. There are several articles as well as interviews about my project that are or about to be published. Furthermore, I have built a website to promote and showcase what I do. In the next stage, I am planning to organize my first photography exhibition. For sure I will need local partners to do that. Nevertheless, I want to engage the target audience in my country. If the response is encouraging, I consider also to support my project with the promotion of prints, various types of merchandise and perhaps I can publish my first book.
How do you include international exchanges in your project?
The project “Vanishing Worlds” requires frequent travels to remote, usually difficult to access and scattered around the world places. All this is possible only with the support of various individuals and organizations from all corners of the globe. It is not just a personal project. In a way, this is a project based on the efforts of many people.
Photography and photo imaging

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