Jassen Todorov is not just a photographer. He is a licensed pilot, a professor of music at San Francisco State University, and an acclaimed violinist who has performed and lectured throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
“If I’m well organized — which often times I’m not — I can fly the plane, I can play my violin, I can teach, I can take pictures and I can take a second flight at sunset,” said Todorov to KQED.
Jassen Todorov grew up in Bulgaria in a family of musicians and started playing the violin at age 5. His fascination for flying began about the same time. His grandfather used to take him to the airport in Sofia to watch the planes come and go. He has a huge collection of model cars and airplanes that he began collecting at an early age. About 200 of them can still be found in his house in Bulgaria.
He began flying in 2002 and is now licensed as a private, instrument-rated and commercial pilot, and a flight instructor. Five years ago, he bought a four-seat 1976 Piper Warrior, which can go for 5½ hours at a stretch at 120 mph. Todorov flies twice a week, racking up more than 2,000 hours of flying time since he got his license.
Todorov’s current camera is a Nikon D810, with a 70-200mm zoom lens. He holds it with his left hand and shoots with his right through a small open window. Photographing and flying at the same time is a challenge. It doesn’t help when the lens he uses is a hefty 5-pound. He also has to deal with high winds and turbulence at 11,000 feet.
His pictures have been published by National Geographic, The Guardian, China News, USA Today, The Telegraph and several other media outlets, and they’ve been exhibited in Sofia, London and Chicago. Recently he won the first-place in an International Photography Award and was named Nature Photographer of the Year. He is also a winner of the Sony World Photography Awards.
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