When 28-year-old Dora Yordanova came to the United States from Bulgaria eight years ago, she had a long list of things she wanted to learn and explore. Photography was not among them.
However, three years ago, a growing curiosity and interest in the arts changed that.
“Instead of talking about art, I wanted to express it,” Yordanova said. “I wanted to photograph people.”
So, the Brooklyn resident and LaGuardia Community College student developed her passion, which included taking a trip back to Bulgaria where she photographed individuals, and today many her portraits will be featured in “The Faces of LaGuardia” photo exhibit at the Long Island City school beginning March 10.
Sixty portraits were selected from more than 200 submissions by LaGuardia students. The winning entries, which consist of portraits of students who represent a mix of the different cultures represented at the school, will be on display in the exhibition “Faces of LaGuardia” through June 15 at LaGuardia Community College’s C-Building located at 30-20 Thomson Avenue.
With the diverse student population in mind, Yordanova went around the college randomly selecting students to photograph.
“I was very democratic about it,” she said. “I was especially drawn to people with different ethnicities because that is the one thing that struck me about LaGuardia.”
Yordanova recruited more than 30 subjects, and in a formal studio setting using a medium format camera, she created stunning images she described as “casual, direct and honest.”
Out of the 16 photos she submitted for the exhibit, her favorite is one named “Akiko,” and features a young girl whose face is only half shown, while her hair appears to flowing straight up from her head.
“I like it because it’s visually more interesting and dynamic,” Yordanova said. The photo was conceived with a sudden inspiration and not too much planning. Yordanova said it reminds her of the freedom of a Japanese brush stroke.
“It was a wonderful experience,” said Yordanova, who would like to have her own portrait studio one day. “It taught me how to approach and talk to people, how to work fast and how to improvise in a situation. It definitely changed my methods as a portrait photographer.”
Although many students whose work will be displayed are commercial photography students like Yordanova, the project also attracted other students who were interested in exploring their photography talents.
Elyse Hoffman, a veterinary technology student who is taking a basic photography class, wanted to test the skills she learned in her black and white photography class.
“It was a shocker to learn that my photographs were selected,” said Hoffman, who plans on taking more photography classes. “I did not think I had a chance competing with advanced photography students. I was very pleased to find out.”
Viewing hours for the exhibit will be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 718-482-5985 or 718-349-4028.