On this page, I am supposed to write grand words about my professional self in the third person. In turn, you are supposed to pretend you don’t even suspect that it was me writing about myself. But that's rather lame, isn't it?

I am an outdoor photographer. This is not a job – it’s who I am. I started hiking with my parents as a child, and with time I moved on to doing stupidly dangerous treks and climbs with my friends. Photography came into my life at the age of fourteen. From the beginning, it was obvious that I was in love with it. Months before I got my first old German film camera, I somehow had this strange idea that I would become a photographer. Then, at fifteen, I got a job as an assistant at an advertising agency and started working full-time. It took me a few years of photographing pretty girls and fancy products to find who I really was and turn towards becoming a full-time outdoor photographer.

After coming back to Europe from the US, I started doing solo expeditions to various areas beyond the Arctic Circle. I can't even remotely describe the mix of fear, overwhelming excitement and loneliness that a twenty-three-year-old goes through on a two-month-long hike with no trails in the wilderness of Greenland. These expeditions were my most important education, and I learned some of my best lessons from the people I met in the middle of nowhere. I had my tent crushed by 300 km/h winds, walked for almost a month without meeting a single person and … once, I did not shower for sixty days straight. There, I said it. I feel better now ...

About ten years into this lifestyle and shortly after being evacuated (with a life-threatening illness) on a horseback over K2’s glacier in Pakistan, I co-founded Vertical Shot Expeditions – a collective of photographers, wilderness guides, kayakers and sailors. Since 2013, we have run small-group expeditions to remote areas, mainly in the Arctic, Patagonia and the Himalayas. Thanks to the VSE crew, I started to sail, and I discovered a world I never even knew existed. It was a case of a mountain man falling in love with the ocean – it is a complicated relationship, but a truly interesting one.

I have lived and worked as a photographer in the USA, Norway, the UK, and Malta. These days, I am based in my beautiful homeland of Bulgaria. I have stopped counting the number of countries that I have been to on projects; what counts for me are the stories worth telling, the people met on the road that have transformed my worldview, and the photographs which have nearly driven me to insanity while working on them.

When not on the road, I love to indulge in reading books on psychology, philosophy and adventure. Trail running is a life-long obsession of mine that keeps my mind and body fit. And, as a dyslexic guy who was extremely uninterested during my school years, I am really passionate about new learning methods – I try to do my bit by teaching workshops and leading photography expeditions for part of each year.

CLIENTS & SPONSORS INCLUDE:

HASSELBLAD, The Royal Norwegian Embassy, VOLVO cars, Ogilvy, Berghaus, MUSTO, Scarpa, Mont Bell, Photo Synthesis, Canon, SPOT satellite tech, Boreal, Patagonia, Land Rover.



PUBLICATIONS:

Outdoor Photography Magazine (cover shot and various articles), Practical Photography, Climbing Magazine, HASSELBLAD Bulletin, Capital, Black + White Photography Magazine and others.


TALKS AND PANELS:

Royal Geographical Society (London), Edinburgh Photographic Society (Scotland), TEDxBG (Bulgaria), SOHO (Bulgaria), The Telegraph Outdoor Show (London) and multiple camera clubs and universities across the UK, Malta and Europe.


EDUCATION:

Master’s degree in freelance photography – Birmingham City University (UK), 2013.


WORKSHOPS AND PHOTOGRAPHY EXPEDITIONS:

I have led over twenty workshops, seminars and expeditions on yachts, kayaks, treks worldwide in locations like Arctic Norway, the Himalayas, Bulgaria, the UK, Tierra del Fuego (Patagonia) and others.

© 2017 Vlad Donkov: outdoor photographer, via Visura