Kukerlandia, the annual exhibition of photography of Kukeri, or mummers, has been taking place in Yambol, southeastern Bulgaria, for the past 10 years. Since its very beginning, Vagabond, Bulgaria's English Magazine, has been a partner to it, giving a special prize to a photographer who excels in photographing what we think is a very interesting Bulgarian folk tradition.
This year the winner of Vagabond's Special Prize is Nikolay Chapkanov, a Sofia photographer, who, in addition to mummers, likes to shoot thunders and airplanes.
"Whenever there is a thunderstorm and everybody runs for cover, I get into the car and try to find a shooting location to enhance its beauty and might," says Chapkanov. "Sometimes I get soaked in rain, sometimes I am up to my knees in water. I have heard that thunders can kill you from as far as 20 kilometres if their electricity reaches you by water... So far, I've been lucky."
Chapkanov also "adores" airplanes and tries never to miss an air show or anything that is related to flying. "Whenever I hear the roar of an airplane, I look up in the sky," says he, even on the rare occasion he does not have a camera at hand.
As for mummers, Nikolay Chapkanov likes their heathen archetypes. "The first time I shot mummers I came back with over 3,000 pictures – in a single day. I love being among these people who have dedicated themselves to upkeeping the tradition."