Ivo Danchev was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1979. He received his BA from Sofia University, and his MFA from National Academy of Art Sofia. In 2009 he became a photographer for National Geographic Bulgaria magazine. In 2011, Ivo received a Fulbright grant and documented the tribal culture of the Crow Indians in Montana, USA. Ivo became the art director for National Geographic Bulgaria magazine in 2012. In 2017, following his childhood dream, he left Sofia and moved to the countryside, to live and work among his favourite subjects. Between 2009 and 2024 Ivo published 22 different stories on National Geographic Bulgaria magazine. While working on his assignments, Ivo’s focus has been primarily on nature, conservation, rural lifestyle, traditional culture, and depopulation of his home country and the Balkans.

Ivo’s story “Between two worlds”, revealing some of the bizarre masked traditions of Bulgaria known as Kukeri, was first published in the January 2021 issue of National Geographic Bulgaria which became the most popular local feature of the magazine ever, run by 17 of its editions around the world.

For Ivo, the "Kukeri" represent both a cross-section of his previous professional interests and a personal reconnection with his roots. He currently spends every winter traveling around Bulgaria exploring little-known pagan masks and customs of about 10000 active Kukeri in the country. The following “Kukerland” series has become an endless photographic expedition. Piece by piece, Ivo is collecting an extensive archive of portraits and stories to fill in the entire puzzle of the rich local heritage of masked traditions. In his series, these wild characters appear at different locations creating a visual narrative related to their home place, lifestyle, and history. They perform their pagan rituals or take off their scary masks to show their human souls.

Exhibitions of the project took place in Tbilisi and Paris in 2022. In 2023, Ivo was a finalist for The Independent Photographer travel award judged by Steve McCurry. Ivo was also recently nominated for Siena Drone Photo Awards 2024.






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