James Crouchman travelled mainly on foot across Bulgaria's North West - the mountainous lands between the Danube and the border with Serbia, today the Bulgarian province of Montana. He explored and documented on film an area full of history, where dialects overlap and once gold and silver miners came from as far as Saxony, brought in by the Ottoman Turks.
James: I met Asparuh from Glavanovtsi village. He gave me apples and told me he disliked Churchill. He was five during the worst bombing of WWII, but still remembers Allied planes flying overhead to target the oil fields in Romania just across the Danube, before returning and unloading their unused bombs on this part of Bulgaria. He told me about the sound the explosions made, echoing for miles around.
From Glavanovtsi I walked nearly 100km over four days to Belogradchik, crossing mountains and taking detours to villages on the way. People would often stop me and give me food or drink. In Protopopintsi village, two old ladies invited me in to their garden and gave me 'compot', not the British sort but fresh fruit juice from figs and peaches. It's a fascinating area, one that deserves to be spoken about more than just in terms of GDP and employment figures.
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James Crouchman: After graduating from University in the UK in 2006, my friends and I decided to go travelling. One group went to Australia and a few more to South-East Asia, whereas I chose to travel through the former Yugoslavia on my own. After staying a week in Trieste and seriously considering never leaving the city, I spent two months travelling through Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia. Two and a half years later I moved to Sofia.
I shoot on film, usually with a Pentax Spotmatic that was given to me by a Bulgarian friend about a year ago. Sofia is such a composite of different people, ideologies and periods of history, and yet Bulgarians have always had a tendency to airbrush the past, to destroy and rebuild rather than develop. Shooting on film and forgoing Photoshop is some kind of small rebellion against this.