Lubo Sergeev is a Bulgarian conceptual and advertising photographer with more than 20 years of experience in the industry. In today’s Artist Spotlight we will introduce you to a selection of his mesmerizing works as well as his workflow, ideology and inspirations.
I have been making a living in photography for 20 years but I have been involved with it for even longer. My father was an actor, so my first touch with arts occurred through theater where I was fascinated with the acting, posing, lighting, costumes, scenography, etc. I was also acting at the time but this congenital thirst of always pursuing something more got me into photography in search of a better and more beautiful world.
Being a perfectionist and workaholic by nature led me to Advertising and Commercial photography where every smallest detail matters and where I have to struggle on a daily basis striving to incorporate a somewhat creative and artistic approach as much as possible.
I have quite a few achievements so far, including Grand Prix awards in most of the major photography contests in my home country, photographer of the year at Oneeyeland.com, several gold medals from major European contests, publications in some of the biggest photo catalogs like Lürzer’s Archive Specials.
But by far the highest achievement I am very proud of is the 2014 Grand Prix in Trierenberg Super Circuit. This contest is considered to be the largest and most prestigious photo salon worldwide and I got awarded with the Grand Prix – the Victoria Trophy for 2014.
99% of the shoots I do are meticulously planned to the tiniest of details and every production is 99% pre-planned. Still, I love aiming for the impossible and leave that 1% to chance.
I do work a lot with motion – dance, animals, liquids, etc., so you can imagine it is quite a challenge to perfectly achieve the desired results and that is why the key is in the planning ahead of time. I always take into consideration as many details as possible and take all the precautions I can think of prior to the shoot.
Another important thing is to carefully determine how much I should let the object of the particular shoot act by themselves and how much I should direct them. I put a lot of effort into casting, so usually when I have the proper talent for the shoot I just let them be. With tons of thorough direction, of course.
I rely heavily on compositing in post-production. I believe ideal compositing begins with scouting the right location and building the lighting plan for the shoot. That is why for all my personal projects and many of the commercial ones I prefer doing the compositing and retouching myself.
WHAT DRIVES YOUR VISION?
Throughout the years, I’ve been noticing that there is one major source of inspiration for everyone and that is traveling. Seeing the world in all its magnificence and beauty is what fuels my vision.
Constantly traveling is key to staying hungry in search of better photographs, better us and better tomorrow. We all see the world and beyond as we want to see it, beautiful or not, and we feel it as big as we are. So I travel. I may go to the nearby town or the street down the road, and I will still see new things that will inspire me.
MY GROWTH AS AN ARTIST
I am never satisfied with what I do. That is simply how I am. It is important not to be mistaken with being happy with it. I am constantly happy but never satisfied with what I do. I read and watch a lot. I am also very respectful of other artists and I am constantly trying to learn from them. And every single day I am pushing my boundaries. Literally. A cliché, but it is what it is.
What skills do you seek in retouchers when outsourcing? What is your own retouching workflow?
I do work with retouchers on some of my commercial projects. Every now and then I work on a major production where outsourcing retouching is mandatory. From a retoucher, I mainly expect a great understanding of light and optics. I also approach a retoucher with the chant: “Do not overdo it” and part from them with the same chant.
My workflow is quite complex as one may imagine. All my work in Photoshop – both retouching and compositing – is based on using customized brushes and masking, and I never use any of the common selection methods or any of the Photoshop adjustments or other presets. I would prefer hand picking every single pixel in an image if I can spare the time.
ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS
Being a successful photographer, retoucher or anyone in the business nowadays is a constant multitasking commitment. One has to be a hard working person, not skipping the complex jobs, not being afraid to fail and let the world know about their qualities.
Every time I am asked to give advice I always say it only takes these three things:
Faith – the ultimate engine, you can never be wrong to do the right thing;
Dedication – you should always be ready to sacrifice something in the favor of another and
Repetition – you should take lots of bad photos in order to learn how to take magnificent ones.