Stefani or @stefani.stoyanovaphoto is a woman whose chosen for the moment profession is photography.
London Metropolitan University graduate at the ''worst time ever'' the beginning of the pandemic. She performs the medium in the commercial fashion and product field.
Founder of her own studio for product photography under the name and tag @studio.modephoto in IG.
Part of the team of the London based camera and lighting rental facility Pixipixel
Read on below for a little bit more then a shot of digestive for Stefani!
Text edit: Maria Sopadzhieva
What did you take from the university degree in Metropolitan University? Practically and philosophically.
Firstly I think it’s good that I mention that I didn’t come to London to study, but it was more of an existential need to go to a completely different place where I can change the scenery and be myself more openly as I didn’t always feel like my place is in Bulgaria. I came to the UK in 2015 without having many plans, and I was working in fashion retail as this was only what I could do at the time and had experience with. A year later, I decided to challenge myself, and when I enrolled in university, I really didn't know what to expect from the course, but I was passionate and wanted to learn.
I knew it’s risky to do a degree in an art-related subject as I had the famous Bulgarian phrase in the back of my head that .. an artist can’t feed up a household... actually that was meant for musicians, but they are an artist too .. so it carries the same meaning.
The three years I have spent at London Metropolitan have given me confidence in my technical skills and have shown me new perspectives. I was broadening my practice and starting to look at different genres in photography. Before I started studying photography on an academic level, I was interested mainly in commercial photography such as fashion and food. But once I was introduced to long-term projects of famous artists, I started building a big connection with documentary and portrait photography. Soon after I fell in love with film photography and shot most of my personal projects on 35mm and medium format cameras.
Everyone who has been in a darkroom to develop a negative knows the magic of this place and how the time stops when you are there!
My graduation project Mimesis was shot on film with mixed use of medium format and polaroid type cameras and was presented in a digital photo book as I was caught up in the rise of the pandemic in 2020. Sadly, I didn't have a live exhibition to showcase a printed version. However, I was being honored with an award from my university for the Best Final project and a year later in April 2021 a few of the images were selected from Free Range @freerangeshows in collaboration with @clearchanneluk for their billboard campaign all over the UK!
This summer I was invited by another fellow Bulgarian residing in London – Bella Aleksandrova @existentialbell who was co-curating with @el___fabian a group exhibition at the Hoxton 253 Project space gallery. There I had the opportunity to show my project consisting of 24 images in the paper version of the photobook. The exhibition showed the works of nine recent graduates among which were another two Bulgarian young photographers @ygreq and @teodorageorgieva.jpeg, both graduated with BA in photography from other UK based universities.
Your current plans? What do you want to achieve in your personal development as a documentary photographer? What topics would you explore in the future?
For me, the projects I do have two main functions. One is exploring myself, and my interests and curiosities through the topics I research and photograph. The second is giving a voice and spotlight to the people and places and their stories. The main themes I explore are related to identity and the issues around it. In my last project Mimesis, I was looking at gender identity, suggesting that masculinity could be viewed as a performance as well apart from being a biological trait. We all know that in Bulgaria topics such as this one are still quite a taboo and I really hope that more people will start talking and doing art in any form exploring similar themes without any reservations. But most importantly these projects need to be supported by the cultural organizations and government as I believe it’s their responsibility to do so.
I have plans for doing a long-term project in Bulgaria hopefully soon, which will be like a photographic investigation of some of our national traditions.
In recent months I kept going back to my first passion – the food and still life photography and I take on freelance jobs when I can. I try to keep my portrait/ documentary work separate from the commercial. My studio trading name can be found under the name tag Mode Studio, @studio.modephoto for all food and product-related work.
Of course, being a freelance photographer who freshly came out of university is quite hard, so I also have a full-time job as an account handler at one of the leading rental companies for lighting in London @pixipixeluk. I joined half a year ago as part of the team dealing with commercials and music promos and recently have moved into the TV and Film department. The job itself is very rewarding as I get to learn how small and big productions work from their kitchen and learn exciting things about lighting too!
What were your most recent collaborations and their topics?
I often work with the young womenswear designer Kristina Vyzaite @kristinavyzaite, who is also my dear friend and the last thing I shot for her was her sustainable collection ‘’Nerimas’’ which was selected for the finals in the global competition Redress Award 2021.
I had the luck to assist photoshoots with the director and photographer Kes Glozier @kesglozier, which was super fun. I love his work and I hope we can get to work together again.
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