We’ve teamed up with the British Fashion Council on “How To Become”, a video series spotlighting careers in fashion. First up, photographer Bogdan Plakov.
Bella Hadid/Bogdan Plakov
Bella Hadid/Bogdan Plakov
Introducing our brand new video series “How To Become”, spotlighting only the most innovative and boundary-pushing names in fashion. We’ve teamed up with the British Fashion Council to explore careers in fashion and their unusual trajectories, with trailblazing talent interviewed by Wonderland’s Editor-in-Chief Toni-Blaze.
First up, Bulgarian photographer Bogdan Plakov, who has shot everyone from Bella Hadid to Future.
Watch the interview now, or read a shortened version of the interview below…
Hello to everyone watching. My name is Toni-Blaze. I’m Editor-in-Chief of Wonderland magazine and I’m joined by the amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing photographer Bogdan Plakov. How are you feeling?
Thank you to the British Fashion Council and Wonderland for having me. We’re recording this on 31st of May, right now around the US a lot of things are happening and this is something I want to address from the perspective of a privileged young white male because I see a lot of the comments and people should know black lives matter, it’s about something bigger and it’s something that needs to change, and its long due that this has to change. To the people living in Europe there are petitions that you can sign there are fundings that if you’re in the position you can donate and you can speak to your friends, to your family, you can educate yourself, I am educating myself. And yeah, unfortunately, racism doesn’t have borders, so it exists in America, it exists in Milan, Paris, London, Bulgaria. So this is something that needs to change. Needs to change as soon as possible. So, yeah, let’s do our part and we hope to have a better future.
How was it growing up in Bulgaria? And the creative scene?
Growing up in Bulgaria is like one of the best times of my life. There are like great artists that have come out from Bulgaria, and during socialism a lot of things were blocked and there was a stop. It’s just like a little bit harder to to show your work to the world. Because they’re like art galleries and magazines are not something that’s that common. But it’s not like you’re not gonna see on a website about a gallery from Bulgaria for most of the time. But it exists there. And great artists and people are doing great work. So hopefully the world will know about them soon.
In terms of just like your culture and your upbringing, how do you feel that influenced your work?
My start in photography is like just from shooting skateboarding and without realising often the places that we would shoot, we would shoot at like buildings that had like this brutalism vibe done during socialism. Skateboarding and architecture in Bulgaria have influenced my style and aesthetic today.
Where did that love of photography start?
I was walking on a fence and I fell and I nearly broke my my leg so my mother had to take me to the hospital for a scanner and the term to make a scanner in Bulgaria is the same as taking a photo. You say like we need to take a photo of your leg. So me hearing that, I ran to my room and I grab a point and shoot camera, I put it in my pocket and when we arrived, the doctors were like, OK, we need to take this photo and I was like, don’t worry like, I got this. And I showed this point and shoot camera, which I found in my home so that’s my first memory attaching to a camera.
With photography as a career, it came late in the game. Probably around four years ago, when I moved to Milan, I moved here to study international relations and politics and during my first semester, and I needed to do something creative and I started to go to all these concerts alone and take photos.
Who are photographers you admire?
One of the masters, from the more old-school scene is William Klein he’s one of my favourite photographers. His whole life, his journey from his street photos to his fashion photography to his films, for me he’s like on of the greatest, a living legend. And Fabien Montique. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet him and to call him a friend and observe the way he creates his work and for sure, it’s one of my biggest inspirations and I’m pretty sure you could see a hint of his work in my work.
Do you have a favourite person that you’ve shot?
I love to shoot with Bella [Hadid]. She’s someone I consider also a friend, and an amazing person, and she’s working so hard like people don’t understand that being a model is not an easy job, and especially for model trying to come up.
What’s the journey? What path do you want to take? I heard you were at a Lil Yachty concert and Virgil was there and you handed him your portfolio and that chance encounter landed you an editorial with Off-White – can you tell us about this?
I wanted to work with Virgil way before I met him and I really believe that when you really want to achieve something, when you really want something to happen, and if you work towards this direction and you’re just like a decent, good person, you’re like not trying to to fuck someone else to get somewhere. So one night I’m with one of my best friends from Bulgaria, at this Lil Yachty concert and at one point I saw Virgil in the main room. I was like, “Hello Mr Abloh, I’m not- I know you’re not here to work, but can you give me 30 seconds?” And Virgil is one of the greatest people I have met in my life, he’s always like, so open to everyone. I showed him my portfolio on my phone and he’s like, “cool, I need someone to shoot something for me so type your email on my phone and send yourself an email.” And I remember like my hands shaking and like writing this email to myself 20 minutes, checking every single word because I knew, like, one error and it’s it’s gone. So, yeah, I did that and then from there project after project after project.
Is there any kind of wise words or advice he gave you about, you know, just navigating the fashion industry?
He often says is that teamwork makes the dream work. He’s put so many collaborations, projects in different mediums, art, fashion, film, even playing music, all of this stuff and it’s just built like this huge body of work – and this is only possible if you execute your ideas. And he is also just leading by example to be humble, always.
Pop Smoke & Quavo/Bogdan Plakov
Future, Milan, 2014/Bogdan Plakov
I know you was part of a team that worked with the late Pop Smoke and Quavo video – how was that?
It was great. I get goosebumps right now. May his soul rest in peace.
What’s one thing you love about photography in your job?
I love meeting people. Then, of course, travelling and locations.
Bringing it back to London, what do you love about it?
What I love London and the energy of the people there is just like they are very unapologetic, you know, there’s still this very punk attitude and this like this is who I am and the self-expression is just different from every other place I feel. If someone is from London, you know that they are from London, from attitude and their styling.
You’ve had such a great journey, and it’s so lovely to speak about it, I wanted to just talk just about other creative mediums, could you see yourself doing more than just photography?
For the past few years I’ve been like trying to explore different mediums. As I mentioned earlier from 2006, freerunning had been like doing videos and photos, but not somewhere I’ve been focussed. It’s definitely something I’m gonna do more in the future, I’ve been doing more creative direction, like for rap albums or just like albums to my friends in Bulgaria. I also have a few exhibitions in my mind that are not related to photography. So hopefully step by step, year by year a projects it’s going to come out.
What advice would you give to people watching that feels a bit hopeless during this time?
It doesn’t matter where you come from so always have faith that you can achieve everything that you want to achieve. Just do it, you can do it and I believe 100 percent it might sound cheesy and something that everyone has said, but everything is possible. As long as you have faith, you work hard and you have patience, you can achieve all your dreams, it doesn’t matter where you come from, where we’re born doesn’t set a limit where we can go.
Thank you Bogdan, Thank you so much.
Thank you so much.