Sometime, in the midst of our busy, all-consuming daily routine, it’s best to just stop for a minute, take a timeout and do something that is just, well, extraordinary.
That is exactly what I did last weekend at a thrilling photography workshop in Bulgaria.
The workshop was held by Efrat Lozanov, an especially talented lifestyle photographer and the blogger behind My Lovely Mess. Efrat and her husband (originally from Bulgaria) had decided to stop their personal rat-race a couple of years ago and move for a while to Bulgaria, where everything moves at a much slower pace. Efrat fell in love with the beautiful, charmingly simple country and thought it would be a great idea to invite over a bunch of women once every few months to share in the magic of the place and learn how to capture it in a photo.
My workshop companion was Anat, my beloved older sister, and we treated it as a farewell trip of sorts. Anat had been working with me for many years as my brand’s International Marketing and Sales Manager and after a long period of working together she felt she needed a change. So, though we are going our separate way as far as the business is concerned, we will always remain sisters and good friends.
We landed in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, on Friday. After travelling for a few hours we reached a small village called Stakevtzi, where time actually stands still; the little houses are surrounded by fruit trees, there’s just one main road, one river and cool, crisp air, rich with nature’s intoxicating smell.

 

 

 

Efrat welcomed all 12 of us Israeli women at the guest house. Inside there were tables with hand-stamped heart tablecloths, carrying presents for everyone. Small wooden houses and fir tree branches decorated the windowsills, the walls were covered with handmade decorations and the main table was packed full of charming little accessories we could shoot. Efrat’s unique, accurate taste was so apparent, thinking of every possible small detail and making sure everything was perfect for us, something that moved me personally and that I really relate to (hence my Blog’s name).
photo by Efrat Lozanov
photo by Efrat Lozanov
photo by Efrat Lozanov
photo by Efrat Lozanov
photo by Efrat Lozanov
photo by Efrat Lozanov
After that, we set down for dinner. The food served during the entire weekend was cooked by Nora, Efrat’s Bulgarian mother-in-law and I must admit it is THE best food I’ve ever tasted. Every meal was no less that excellent. Fried fish, traditional pastries, stuffed peppers, Tiramisu, bread pudding and so much more. Everything was served in the most aesthetically pleasing way – in traditional enamel dishes, glass jars and wooden trays.
חוץ מלאכול, הגענו ללמוד לצלם. החל מאיך להפעיל את המצלמה, הסבר מהו צמצם ואיך שולטים בו ועד תרגילים בקומפוזיציה וסטיילינג, כולל עוגה אחת פוטוגנית במיוחד שהוכנה במיוחד כדי שנצלם אותה.
Apart from eating, we came to learn how to shoot, including how to operate a camera, what exactly the aperture adjuster is and how to control it and ways to create correct compositions and style. We tried it out on the fantastic props, including one beautiful cake that was baked especially.

 

 

Even though I take quite a lot of pictures (did you know for instance I shoot most of my jewelry myself)? I had never studied photography properly, basically learning from my own trial and error ways. I had so much fun being able to control the camera on an entirely different level than before and of course seeing the results themselves – some of which you can check out right here.
We took a lot of shots inside the main hall, near the burning fire. I had brought with me a box filled with Jewelry and created beautiful, atmospheric images of them.

 

 

We also walked around the village a lot and shot outside – the people, views, animals and surrounding nature.

 

During the last day two beautiful young girls joined us, so that we could practice shooting them in motion and creating compositions with real live (and especially photogenic) models.

 

I left the workshop with a big urge to keep on taking pictures, learning and experimenting further, charming new friends, Bulgarian recipes and the energy to keep on finding opportunities to collect new, once in a lifetime experiences.
Want to join the next workshop? It will be held on December, with a real Christmas feel and you can check it out and get some more information in Efrat’s blog