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BODY OF WORK: RADINA DROUMEVA

Meet the photographer celebrating milestones on the path to self-acceptance.

 

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For me, it’s all about finding a way to accept and be at peace with who you are – faults and all.

 

When I first met the next guest in the Body of Work series, I was intrigued by her story.

A fellow academic who felt a tug toward freeing up space in her life for more creativity, this mathematician turned conceptual fine art and portrait photographer has built a career that connects her deeply with her subjects, herself, and the world around her.

Her fine art work has earned her plenty of awards and accolades, but when I learned about her newest project, Celebrate Yourself, I knew we had to talk.

Whether you’re into photography, unapologetic self-acceptance, living examples of creative self-care, or all of the above, you won’t want to miss this.

I’m delighted to share with you the second installment of the Body of Work series:

My interview with Radina Droumeva.

 


Radina, what do you love most about the work that you do?

My favourite part about photography is the process of creating my fine art work, most often in solitude. It is my way of practicing mindfulness – finding beauty in every day objects, and spending time exploring that beauty. I do extensive post processing work, which gives me hours upon hours of exercising my imagination, allowing my brain to focus on my art and get a break from every day stresses of life. I always learn something good about myself in the process.

Six pieces from my Imagination Series, which just won a conceptual nominee award in the Fine Art Photography Awards. This series is the embodiment of how I use photography to practice mindfulness.

 

What is the inspiration behind your work?

Essence and connection. When I photograph people, I strive to connect with them on a personal level. This not only gives me the important social connection with my fellow human beings, but it also helps me capture the essence of that person in the “between” moments – the laughing, the blinking, or even the serious sophistication, that make every individual unique. With my fine art work it is essentially the same, except I am re-affirming a connection to myself and my environment, with some projects being entirely self exploration driven.

What do you hope to convey through your work?   

With my fine art work, I explore the human condition, and how we interact with our physical and social environments. All of my projects are really self exploration journeys on themes that are my core values – mental health, connection with nature, environmental responsibility, and social justice issues. My hope is to give people an opportunity to relate to the explored topics, to reflect on their own core values, and become inspired to start a conversation on these themes.

body of work radina droumeva

This is my award-nominated In Pieces, a self exploration project which is how I use photography as therapy. Some projects I create when I’m having a particularly bad day with my depression. This is how I push through sometimes: I make art from it. 

 

What advice would you offer to someone who is working to improve her body image and cultivate self-acceptance?

Find something you are passionate about and do it more often. This will give you the opportunity to get to know yourself better, and feel good about your mind, your heart, and your essence. Never feel shame about having negative feelings and thoughts about your body – it is OK to have those feelings.

Something I did myself a while ago, recommended by a psychologist, was to make a list of all the other aspects that make you who you are – maybe you are a good friend, a caring mom, an empath, smart, responsible, have a neat way of making people around you laugh, hard worker, excellent gardener, skateboarder, great cook perhaps.


click for your free copy:

THE LOVE YOUR BODY PLAYBOOK


Write as many as you can, and if you are stuck – call 10 friends and ask them what they think are your good qualities. You will be surprised how many will overlap, and how many you would have never thought of. The point here is to see you are so much more than your body. It is only one of MANY qualities you have as a whole person.

Most importantly, do your best to find ways to celebrate the positive qualities you have more often! Photography, and art in general, are great ways to give your brain the mental break it needs, every single day, to allow those negative thoughts to dissipate, even if only for a little while.

May is Mental Health Month. How do you define mental health?

For me, mental health is a balance of coping and thriving. I live with anxiety and depression. I am very proud of myself for seeking help and educating myself to gain a full understanding of how this affects my life.

Now I have a number of coping mechanisms embedded in my lifestyle to give me back control, and I don’t let flare-ups set me back and prevent me from thriving. For me, it’s all about finding a way to accept and be at peace with who you are – faults and all.

How do you practice self-care?

I spend at least 30 minutes every day cuddling and kissing my two dogs. A few minutes in the morning, and a few minutes before bed. I find the most important indicator of how my day will go is how it starts – doesn’t get better than puppies!


want more self-care inspiration?

Check out my Pinterest boards on:
BODY IMAGE + self-careMENTAL HEALTH


I also make sure that every week I take a few hours and dedicate myself to working on my art using my hands – a physical interaction gives me so much more appreciation for my work. I carefully print, cut, mount, stain, finish with acrylics or encaustics, and hang my art on the wall. It gives me an accomplishment I can touch and feel and be proud of. Yes, this means I have a LOT of art, which I hope to someday actually sell!

What’s next for you? Can you share a bit about what you’re working on now? 

One of my passions is doing exactly this – sharing my story about mental health and what I’ve learned. Every time I do, I find a lot of people can relate to it, and knowing you are not alone is huge.

Reflecting on this, I have finally found my true purpose in my portrait work: I am starting a new photography service called “Celebrate Yourself”.

 

body of work radina droumeva

body of work radina droumeva

In Pam’s arm shot, I asked her to tell me which part of her body is her favourite right now.
It was her flex-y, muscly guns!  So we made her arm into art.

I want to work with people who have been through a milestone shift in life – whether it’s accepting life with a chronic illness, finding yourself again after divorce, going back to school, or maybe starting to exercise and feeling good about that. The same kind of reasons some people get a meaningful tattoo, except I want to photograph YOU celebrating yourself.

body of work radina droumeva

Stephanie is a Type 1 diabetic who is celebrating herself and her body after training really hard for obstacle course races and marathons. She is also a clinical exercise physiologist, a title she earned over many years of hard work.

Every photo shoot is creatively designed from scratch and custom tailored to the individual, and their story.

My goal is to create a beautiful fine art print that the person can put on their wall and look at every single day – to remind themselves of how awesome they are, and how effort pays off.

We all have our days when we feel we are unhappy, and can’t remember what it feels like to be happy. Well, surround yourself with photographs of you happy – and you will know you will get through this, again.



Radina Droumeva
is a mathematician turned conceptual fine art and portrait photographer, living in the small town of Ladner, BC in Canada. She left a successful career as a mathematician after her struggle with depression and anxiety led her on a journey of self discovery, which reignited her passion for arts and creativity.

She explores themes involving the human condition and how we interact with our environment – drawing inspiration from mental health and the practice of mindfulness, personal connection with nature, social justice issues, and environmental responsibility.

connect with radina

Fine Art Work | Portrait Work


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HI!  I’M MICHAELA. 

I help women love + care for their bodies, through simple daily practices that anyone can learn. After spending over a decade studying, researching, and teaching body image + mental health principles, I started Wild & Precious to empower women to make the most of their lives by making real and lasting peace with themselves. I share practical guidance so you and your family can free up time + energy for the people + things you’re most passionate about… and actually have fun along the way.

4 Comments
  1. Bablofil says:

    Thanks, great article.

    1. Michaela @ Wild & Precious says:

      You bet. Thanks for reading!

  2. Rachael says:

    Love the interview! I found it super inspiring and love that Radina dedicates her work to capturing in others the same strength she found in herself. This just reinforces my belief that in order to truly take care of others we need to take care of ourselves, and in taking proper care of ourselves we have so much more to offer others! Synchronicity at its finest!

    1. Michaela @ Wild & Precious says:

      So glad you found some inspiration, Rachael, and I completely agree: Self-care is inextricably linked to our capacity to care for others, and recognizing this is so important! Thank you for reading!

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