Photographer Eva Koleva Timothy describes her style as positive, optimistic, and full of light. You would never guess that she was raised behind the Iron Curtain under communist rule.
Eva was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria. Although conditions were bleak and devoid of color and freedom, she found beauty in the world around her. Contrary to the norm under communism, Eva’s parents fostered an environment of creativity and encouraged Eva to follow her dreams.
Her dreams eventually took her to the United States and then on to expressing her creativity through photography. She has traveled across the world and aims to inspire creativity, to encourage imagination, and to experience discovery through her photographs. Her fine art photography has won international awards and has been showcased in public and private collections, including the Smithsonian. Eva was eager to share her thoughts and experiences with us.
How did you get into photography?
I actually never owned a camera growing up, but I feel as though I have always been taking pictures with my eyes. My dad would often stop and point out the beauty in the world. He would say, “Hold up. Look at this sunset or this amazing mountain!” So I feel like I have always been a photographer in a sense, even though I never owned a camera until I went to college. I’ve always felt like I’ve been seeing beauty and capturing it with my own eyes.
At what point did photography become more than a hobby?
While my husband was attending Oxford, I took a class in digital photography. I had never taken anything digital prior to that. While I was studying, I spoke with a few of the heads of the colleges at the university, and they offered me an opportunity to shoot. And I said, “That sounds really fun. I would love to!”
I had taken some photos and had a little portfolio with me, which I had shown here and there before. But then I became a member of the Oxford Photographic Society. These were older men who were part of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, and they had won a lot of awards. Their whole lives were spent in photography, so they were very knowledgeable. They were big mentors to me, and I learned a lot from them. I was the youngest one there, sitting in the back just listening. But I felt that my passion was coming alive.
How has traveling the world influenced your photography?
It is interesting because every place is beautiful. It could be your own hometown, it could be Venice, it could be Oxford, or it could be the Great Salt Lake. There is beauty in every little place around us. It is just taking the time to notice that beauty and capturing it and doing it with your whole heart. Unless you feel excited about these things, you can go to all of these places and still not see the beauty. It is more of an attitude of the way we see our world. And it is so great that you can capture it and bring it home with the camera.
If I’m not there 100%, it is very hard to be inspired to shoot. You have to be one with God and yourself, and you have to feel the need to create. Unless you feel that way, it is hardly possible that something will come out of it.
When you are not feeling 100%, how do you get into a moment of inspiration?
Well, it doesn’t always work [laughs]. You have to include your own heart and feel inspired. It’s interesting because oftentimes I will be in the car, and this inspiration will just come right while I’m driving. It’s important to act right when inspiration strikes. It’s so easy to ignore it. We all have busy lives, and there are a million other things to do. But when you feel that inspiration, do something about it. Write it down, or put it on your phone, because it’s too easy to forget and move on. I try to be more in tune to that inspiration and listen to it when it comes. And when it doesn’t work sometimes, it just doesn’t work.
What advice do you have for travelers in terms of capturing the best photographs?
Get out before the crowds are out there. When I’m in a new place, I like to get out early in the morning while my kids and husband are still sleeping. I love Venice, seeing different angles, from a different alley or avenue. Get on top of a building and shoot from there. Take a boat to the middle of the channel. Don’t just shoot the Santa Maria straight on. Be creative. You want to get a different angle and keep it creative and fun.