Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Archive for March, 2013

Vladimir Donkov: Master Of Northern Light


Over the years we’ve had some very inspirational speakers at our CLUB and f2 meetings, and none more so than arctic photographer Vladimir Donkov.

His story is the stuff of novels or motivational self-help manuals. As a child in Bulgaria he was plagued by ill-health, largely caused by growing up within choking distance of the infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Despite being told he would never even be able to run or play sports, Vladimir went on to become a runner at competition level and ultimately someone who would regularly choose to put himself in the arctic wilderness for months on end with 66kg of equipment on his back and with the sole intention of capturing breathtaking arctic landscape photographs, often in places that have never been photographed before.

As a “very dyslexic” child, Vlad still managed to teach himself to read, by sheer force of will, but perhaps his most potent avenue of expression is photography, something which he seems to pursue with the same dogged determination coupled with incredible natural talent.

As he speaks, quietly and diffidently, it is clear that these tales of “Boys’ Own” derring-do are not only very true, but also almost commonplace in Vlad’s life. What do you do if your tent is blown away in a 200mph arctic storm? Obviously, you sleep under a boulder and then run, dripping wet and freezing, for 11 hours with your huge backpack to the only potentially inhabited settlement for many miles and hope that there’s someone there who can help.

Vlad has an inherent and natural empathy with nature – it’s perils and it’s bounty. And it is for that reason that Fotofilia asked him to lead a one-day Nature Photography Masterclass, which he kindly agreed to do.


Here’s the details of the course in Vlad’s words…

Nature Photography Masterclass with Vladimir Donkov (2-9pm) – Saturday 13th April

“Every great photography project to a faraway land has to start somewhere. And that is usually in your backyard.
During this one-day masterclass I will share with you my workflow and we will chase some beautiful light together! I will guide you through my favorite training route for my Arctic photo-assignments – into the picturesque nature between Warwick Art Centre and Kenilworth. On our way we will be shooting at lakes full of wildlife, expansive farm fields and even visit a nature reserve to photograph ancient trees and fresh spring flowers… During the walk I will be demonstrating how I shoot with my camera and give you advice on working with yours and composing for great images. 
After our day out I will also send you an email critique session of two of your best shots from our shoot with tips on editing, exposure and etc. 
The main focus of this masterclass will be on creating compelling landscapes and the process behind them. But as there is also a good chance of spotting foxes, rabbits and rare birds, keep your camera ready and your eyes peeled! Before sunset on our way back we will find a nice location to photograph during the ‘golden hour’, as this is the time when usually the most stunning nature images are shot. Like outdoor photographers do, we will call it a day just before dark and hopefully you will drive home with a heart full of inspiration for your next trip with your camera!
Please read carefully the description below:
The masterclass starts at 2pm in front of Warwick Arts Centre and ends around 9pm at the same place – the address is University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL . It takes up about 45 minutes driving one way. Public transport options are also available.
In case of strong showers we will postpone the masterclass for the next day – Sunday (date). I will monitor the weathercast in the morning and if it looks too bad you will receive a phone call no later than 12 am. Fingers crossed for a nice sunny day, but keep in mind that any kind of weather might be great for photography!
It is strongly recommended that you pack light, as this is a walking tour in a mixed area of nature reserves and farm fields. You do not need to be extremely fit, but you still need to be in shape good enough for 7 hours of photographing and easy walking with a camera bag.
Make sure to bring along:
– a pair of comfortable outdoor boots
– a rainproof jacket/trousers
– packed lunch (quite solid one!)
By booking this masterclass you agree that you take the responsibility for your own safety and all of your actions during the seminar. Vladimir Donkov will only be teaching photography and leading the group throughout the route. The area is flat and no mountain guide is needed, however, as with any outdoor trip there may be risks involved.
Until the end of April 2013 you can send up to two of your photographs taken during the masterclass to the tutor. You will then receive one email with a critique and tips within a week time.
Bio: Vladimir Donkov is an outdoor photographer with more than 10 years of professional experience, working for clients such as Hasselblad, Canon and Berghaus. He specialises in long and unsupported expeditions in the Arctic, living in solitude for months at a time in the vast wilderness of Greenland, Lapland and other rather cold places. The outcome of this project has been published in various international media. Vladimir will be leading this masterclass shortly after returning from a 10-days tour with workshop clients in Iceland. He is based in Birmingham at the moment, but used to live and still trains in the area where the seminar will take place.
His work can be seen at and

Price: £85 (£75 CLUB/f2 members)

Two-thirds of the available spaces for this event sold out within a week of its announcement, mainly to people who heard him speak at the club meetings, but there are still a couple of spaces left. Contact us now to reserve your place via email to