Into the polar night

When I started out making pictures and putting them up on this website, I found over the years, that I’d get correspondence from all over the world. When I look back at the early days , I can still remember the first emailers. I had maintained a long standing dialog with them while I was an amateur myself. Over the years while my own hobby turned gradually into my current profession, I had one or two stalwarts who maintained a beautiful correspondence with me. They never seemed to lose sight of me, nor I them.

One of those stalwarts was Vladimir Donkov.

A young Bulgarian photographer, Vlad was busy carving a career for himself, and doing things in the photography world before he was 20 years old, that most of us in our 40’s are still dreaming about.

Vlad would email me perhaps once, maybe twice a year, just to check in, tell me about his own photographic journey. I’d never met him in person, but over those initial years of working on my own hobby and website, I felt I’d kind of got to know him well. To me, Vlad was and is still, someone I relate to because we share the same passion.

Then, in 2009, Vlad emailed me to tell me of his plans to go and shoot images in the Norwegian winter. Oooh, I’d always wanted to go and make images in the snow, and so I thought I would accompany Vlad on his journey there. For some reason, I was under the impression that he had invited me, but we have many jokes these days about how I actually invited myself along on his trip!

So in March 2010, I went to the Lofoten Islands, at the time, a still relatively unknown location for winter shooting and met up with Vlad. He was perhaps 24 years old at this time, and I was 42 years old. I kind of like to think it’s funny how the numbers are reversed. I was wary that he might think me an old bore, or that I find him too young or immature. I’m glad to say that I found a great friend in him (despite him probably finding me immature ;-)

Vlad was solely responsible for me coming to Norway's Lofoten islands in winter, and I think he needs the recognition for being the one who started off what is now turning out to be a photographer's winter paradise. Each month, I see images of Lofoten appear on my facebook page from amateurs and professionals that have been drawn to the place for the same reasons Vlad and myself love it. It is a stunningly beautiful and wild place.

Vlad emailed me today to let me know about a new project - a video - that he has been working on. He’s made a really nice video of his work in the Moskenes region of the Lofoten Islands and the video has been done in conjunction with the support of Hasselblad. The video is excellent, and I just want to share it with you, as I feel it's inspiring to see him out there, in the Lofoten landscape, working his magic.

I think it's fantastic when people realise their dreams, or have a 'go-do' attitude. Vlad clearly has this and is very much following his own path.

If you'd like to know more about Vlad, and see some of his work, his site is called