My name is Viara and I am a documentary family photographer based in Kingston, Ontario.

I wanted to be many things, growing up, but photographer was not one of them. The idea snuck up on me sometime between 2003 and 2014. My love for the study of families turned from scientific and restrained to photographic and free. 

I was born in Bulgaria, and have lived in the UK, Saskatchewan, Toronto, and the Netherlands.

I have a PhD in parenting (behavioural genetics & psychology), which, in retrospect, helped me tremendously in my new career as photographer. I video-recorded hundreds of tapes of mothers and their babies, and analyzed micro-moments of their interactions. This taught me to notice tiny changes in expression, small movements, and complex family dynamics at the moment-to-moment level, skills which would become important in my family documentary photography practice. This also taught me that no two families are the same.

When I moved to the Netherlands for post-doctoral work in 2012, I became very serious about photography. I studied street photography and joined whatever groups I could, had my work critiqued by photographers I respected, and started seeing my photographs as more than a snapshot of a moment in time.

 
Kingston, On 2017 (photo credit: LIz cooper)

Kingston, On 2017 (photo credit: LIz cooper)

Kingston, ON 2016 (Photo credit: liz cooper)

Kingston, ON 2016 (Photo credit: liz cooper)

I loved studying families, but craved to do it in a way that science couldn't offer. I didn't want to reduce families to bits of data in spreadsheets, thereby erasing their differences. Sure, there were similarities between families. But I wanted to shine a light on all those things which made families unique. That was the interesting part to me. Documentary photography gave me a way to do that.

I now live on a small acreage in Bath, ON, with my husband, three children, and a menagerie of animals. My days are spent with the crow of roosters out the window, while I edit photographs from the families that allow me a photographic glimpse into their lives.

I also love to write science-fiction: you can check out two of my short stories here and here.


Why you should hire me

amsterdam, nl 2014 (photo credit: galina Madjaroff)

amsterdam, nl 2014 (photo credit: galina Madjaroff)

  • I have a good eye, I work hard, and I'm never satisfied with my work, which is to say that I'm constantly trying to improve it by studying the work of those I respect in the field
  • I am good at connecting with people and making them comfortable (check out some client reviews)
  • I have photographed over fifty families in the last two years
  • In 2015-2016, I was hired by Bayside Montessori School to document the classroom activities & field trips of the children
  • I have photographed over 250 children in schools, families, and through my work with non-profit organizations
  • I am resident photographer for Loving Spoonful, a non-profit organization in Kingston that does incredible things for the community's food and educational needs
  • In 2015, I won 2nd place at the Ian Walsh Award, the first photography competition I'd ever entered
  • I operate out of Kingston, Ontario, but I photograph families all over the province, and beyond!
Amsterdam, NL 2014 (photo credit: Fred Reitz)

Amsterdam, NL 2014 (photo credit: Fred Reitz)

I photograph families of all kinds, big or small. I also photograph weddings, couples, and all parts of life, from birth to retirement and beyond. During documentary photography sessions and weddings, I do not pose or direct people. This natural approach results in photographs which are unique to your occasion, not clones of someone else's. Of course, there is always time to pause and capture a few group shots and individual portraits. After all, these photographs are for you, and that means you have all the say. 


I aim to bring authentic documentary photography and other creative photography initiatives to Kingston, both to clients and to communities.

Some of the community initiatives I have recently begun are:

a pen portrait of me drawn by my daughter, age 8.

a pen portrait of me drawn by my daughter, age 8.

(Note: I'm looking for volunteers to help me run these projects. If you or someone you know is interested, give me a ring: 343.363.0050 or email viaramileva@gmail.com)

 

Some of the paid client projects are:

  • 'Year in the Life': documentary photography of you and your family every month for a year
  • 'Year in the life: School Edition': year-long photography journal of your child's activities in the classroom, on field trips, and other special events

Durham, UK 2016 (photo credit: Maartje Luijk)

Durham, UK 2016 (photo credit: Maartje Luijk)

Travel

I travel the Toronto - Ottawa - Kingston circuit up to twice a month and I've photographed families in Scotland and the Netherlands in the past. I'd like to visit as many places as I can in this short life.

If you want to hire me outside of Ontario, contact me to get a custom quote on how much it would cost to photograph you and your family in the place you live and love.