1. Can you please tell us a few words about yourself, where are you from?
Hi, my name is Nino aka Just a Stray Cat and I’m from Sofia, Bulgaria – luckily, a city with a lot of stray cats :}
2. What is your photography story, how did you start? How did you get where you are now?
Well, I think it all started in my teenage years around 2005-2006. I used to go out at night and do graffiti, so in order to save those moments for later I bought my first camera – small digital point & shoot Praktica. Tbh my dad bought it, I couldn’t afford even air back then… But it wasn’t until the end of 2009 when I decided to take it a bit more serious and asked him for a dslr. Then I started to shoot more than just graffiti and show my stuff to people, on the internet, etc.
I went through a few different digital systems, but fell in love with the dynamic range and vivid colours of film. In the last couple of years I’ve been shooting film mostly, also finally got a decent smartphone and I’m still enjoying that one. The plan is to reduce my film usage, firstly due to it’s unsustainable profile and then I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can’t get around the idea of the latest price increases… Them mindless jokers think I’m going to pay lens money for a dozen of rolls… But as long as I’m still able to find bargains here and there, film will be king.
3. What’s your favourite gear to use (camera, lens, film) ?
Cameras: mju ii, nikon f501, the classic canon 5d
Lenses: nikkor ai-s 50mm f1.2, I love a nice wide stretchy lens or a fisheye
Film: Fortunately I shot a good amount of Natura 1600 which was my favourite, but probably won’t get my hands on another roll again… I also like the colours of Ultramax 400, Color plus, Portra 400, Lomography 400, Cinestill 800 (if they don’t screw me over with an expired kodak vision)
Once I found a really nicely expired Farbwelt 200 at Bitaka (those who know, they know) and used it on a trip to London. The grain it produced was so cool.
4. What do you enjoy shooting the most? And Why?
Cats, palm trees, hidden beaches, street corners… I ain’t no professional shooter (still waiting for someone to ‘discover’ me hahaha) so I try to capture stuff that will give me a pleasure and calmness when I get back to it after a while. I can’t take pictures of homeless or sick people, bad situations… I ain’t no Boogie. Pripyat sceneries are not my thing. I come from Eastern Europe, so I’ve seen plenty of that and it’s just not intriguing and doesn’t sit well with me. Funny thing I noticed while scrolling through my photos was that there’s something green in most of them.
5. How do you educate yourself to take better photos?
I’ve left my skills to develop organically. In rare cases if I like a photographers work, I’ll try to learn how it was made. No books on photography or shit like that. In my opinion optics, mechanics, film developing – can be taught, but the act of taking the photo itself should come from the person behind the camera only. Leave the golden ratio to nature and try taking good photos outside a grid.
6. Have you ever doubted yourself? And what helped you to overcome that?
Maybe I did in the beginning, while looking at other people’s work, but this also motivated me to get better. And that works as a general rule in life too. Nowadays, I don’t really care that much, I just do what I like… “There is no competition, if you are manifesting your own lane”.
7. What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer for you?
I get to remember things that otherwise I might forget without the photos.
8. Among your works, which one is your favourite? Tell us the story behind it.
I don’t have one, but I’m grateful I got the chance to see my favourite band The Prodigy play live around 20 times, before the mighty Keith Flint lit up the sky. So maybe some photos from the front rows of these gigs.
Liam H shared one of them a few years back. With another I won a photo competition organised by the band, so it’s up there on the top as well.
I’m also glad I used to take photographs of my late grandmother even though she didn’t like being photographed. These are my most treasured ones.
9. What gives you inspiration?
Nature, urban environments, music, other photographers
10. Exactly what it is you want to say with your photographs?
Nothing really, but it’d be nice if they give you a sprinkle of calmness while viewing them :}
You can follow @justastraycat on Instagram 🙂