This young photographer recently based in Los Angeles has an unusual background and a lot of talent. From the sport world to fashion, he has a very unique way of capturing a movement on a picture. If you’ve never heard of him, it’s never too late to remember his name. Please meet Stoyan Vassev.
– Stoyan, can you introduce yourself ?
– I was born in Bulgaria and when I was fifteen 15 years old, I moved to Russia because of sports. I was in the Russian cycling national team – the track cycling team – in 2009. When I was doing this sport, I had a lot of free time so I used to shoot a lot. I mean, I started shooting during my training time. But I got bored of training and cycling, so I decided to change my career option ! I left the cycling team, went to photo school and made it my life and my job.
– So it was actually a hobby first ?
– Yes, it was a hobby first, I just liked to do it. People started to like my pictures and encouraged me to learn and to shoot something new. Actually, my first pictures were more about sports. Then, I started shooting different things at some events or in studios… Yes, this is how it began.
– Didn’t you want to go on shooting sport pictures, and especially cycling ?
– I started shooting cycling, as I left my team. So, I went to a cycling magazine and used to work there for about half a year. But it was just boring, because it was always the same : you only shoot the moment and there is no creativity. And this is what I was looking for. The next step was to go to events. It’s not easy to find a job and I started searching for clients : people, actors…
– When did you decide to come to Los Angeles ?
– I came to Los Angeles in January this year. I had the dream to come to the USA, maybe the last three-four years, but I had no chance to do it. I had a lot of work to do and you don’t have necessary enough money to come here ! So finally I found a guy – a boxing manager – this is why I have so many boxing pictures. I came here with him, he brought me here. But I only worked for him like two months and then left him, because it became boring too !
– It’s not easy to be creative with sport pictures, right ?
– To be honest, with the boxing, it is a big deal to be creative there. The boxing manager wasn’t providing me the shootings that I wanted. I mean, just to shoot the athletes : it’s fine. But I wanted to do some creative shootings. They didn’t have the budget, they didn’t have the time and they didn’t want to do it, you know. Because it’s interesting to shoot some more dramatic portraits, studio shootings, but they didn’t want to do it.
– So that’s why you began to shoot events…
– Yes and I still do a lot of events, because this is some kind of “job to pay the bills”. Here in the USA where I don’t know anyone, it’s a new place, a new country, a new city. So this is the only way for me to meet some people, so I have to do it. Sometimes there are very interesting events, but most of them are boring ! And when people see you very often, they start asking : “Who’s that guy ?” So you’ll get some exposure, so to speak.
– You work half time in L.A. and half-time in Russia.
– Eactly, I spend like five months here then three months in Russia. Now I’m here til November, then I’m going back to Russia.
– Are you shooting the same kind of things in Russia, or is it totally different ?
– Actually it’s the same kind of things. In Russia, I work most of the time on events, but now you know, the last time I came, I did a lot of shootings for different magazines, editorials. And actually the reason why I came to the USA, was to get some new fields of photography. There are more actors here, we have very different locations, situations, characters, some kind of things you can not find in Moscow if you want to shoot there. It’s such a different world here, that’s why I came here and that’s why I’m so happy being here ! Meeting people like Craig R. Young or some other actors, it’s really amazing. I mean, you can not meet such people in Russia !
– Don’t ask me to give you a Russian name of an actor, I don’t know any of them…
– In Russia, there are no world-famous actors, maybe there is only one guy who is shooting in Hollywood movies like in “Mission Impossible”, I don’t remember… In Russia, there is a big movie production, which is only for Russia. They are famous only in the country. It’s much more interesting here in Los Angeles, because if I only shoot Russian actors, the photos will only be published in Russia. If I shoot someone here, it has a world-wide exposure. Shooting in Russia is not attracting me at all, because they’re not ready to get some good products. They don’t care about the quality. Most of the shootings are just to take the money… Here, if someone has a project, they’ll do it. They have the budget for it. There is a photographer, an assistant, a lightning assistant, an editor, a retoucher. I mean, it’s more professional here. And this is what I want to learn here : how they make it, the entire process. That’s why I decided to come here more often.
– Beside that, you do shootings with models.
– Yes, in the studio I usually work with young models. They come for test shootings, but also what attracts me really here is when we do big shootings, I can work on behind-the-scenes. This is more my style of “work”. It’s about the models, it’s about the clothes.
– What kind of behind-the-scenes pictures are you taking ?
– I’m trying to shoot behind-the-scenes of different shootings : photo shoots… and I really love it. So, I think I found my passion ! Now I started working in a studio in Hollywood. So there is a main photographer here and when he shoots, I’m just catching the behind-the-scenes. I’m still not shooting what’s happening, but I’m just trying to catch the model or the actor. It doesn’t matter who is in front of the camera, I’m trying to catch him from another angle. We’re doing a totally different work. But when we put it together… It’s working !
– Do you have your own studio here or you’re working with someone ?
– I’m working for a company here. I still don’t have my own studio, but I believe I’m going to have it some day !