Poli vs. Polina Ilieva Photography

I met Poli through a friend but, mostly, I came to know her through her work. When one loves their work, you can read them through it. I am always captivated by her photos. Once she shot an interior that I made and she exposed my work in the most beautiful way possible. All these beautiful images were made using natural light only. She works with natural materials and so do I. These were, more or less, my first impressions of her. Then I saw a photo session of her giving birth to Hannah and for the first time a photograph made me cry. Then I saw Hannah for the first time… Even though I didn’t know Poli well, it was obvious to me that she had this very defined idea of what her life should be and was working to get it. You can see the life she is building with Frank aka. Dimitar in her pictures, and you’ll enjoy her knack for capturing the moment. Because our lives are a series of moments. But let her, in the natural way she has of taking candids and of telling stories, tell us what she loves the most.

Polina Ilieva photography

photography: Dimitri Stefanov

Who are you and what do you do for a living?

My name is Polina Ilieva and I am the mother of the amazing, almost 2-year-old Hannah, as well as a photographer passionate about what I do. I am the “foster mom” of two dogs and three cats, a person who tries to look at the bright side of life, honest and straightforward, sometimes sarcastic, usually quite stubborn.

Polina Ilieva family

 photography: Geri Dineva, Before Creating Academy 


Tell us more about your job. How did you start? What is the job for you? How does it make you feel? 

I have been taking photos since I was a child and I love it. But I didn’t think that photography was something I could do for a living. Not until 8 years ago when I took a leap of faith and embraced the new opportunities life had for me. I was working in advertising, but things were not going really well there at the time. I needed change, but had no idea what I really wanted to do.

One evening I was photographing two baby cats we were fostering at home while looking for people to adopt them. I went through my photos and it just struck me. I can’t say it was easy to become who I am now, but I truly enjoyed the process. I had the support of my loved ones, the help of my friends and the advantage of meeting other photographers and videographers who believed in me and who I now call friends. 

Photography to me is the place where my soul resides and where love, passion, magic and reality meet. And as tiring as it sometimes is, it charges my soul with positive vibes and energy, as I share my clients’ happiest moments and get overwhelmed by their emotions. 

Polina Ilieva photgraphy

photography: Polina Ilieva

How many children do you have and what are their names?

I have a daughter and her name is Hannah. 

Hannah and Nordic fox
photography: Nadya Andreeva
What is the first thing that came to your mind about your job when the children came?

Hannah means the world to me. But I never thought of motherhood as having to choose between my child and my job. I need to keep creating, I need the energy and the inspiration that photography gives me. Apart from the emotional side, I also never considered the option to stop creating for a whole year or two. It took a lot of time, effort and energy to become the photographer I am today. And I keep investing in trying to improve my knowledge and skills. Photography as a business is quite competitive nowadays and one can’t afford to disappear for such a long time as getting back on board would be as hard as it was in the very beginning. 

Hands photography

photography: Polina Ilieva

What is the most difficult part of motherhood?

Coping with the sense of guilt that I am not 100% devoted to Hannah. Trying to find the good balance between being a mother, being a partner and being a photographer. Accepting the fact that Hannah grows up so fast and I am not always by her side. Knowing there are and will be a lot of missed moments and opportunities. Trying not be that hard on myself.

If you have the book Mamah by Helene Deforge, which is your type of mom?

The one that is her complete self again but her baby still gets under her skin:). The year after giving birth to Hannah I did a lot of pregnancy photo sessions and while I was shooting I often caught myself rubbing my belly. It was funny and weird. I even got asked a few times if I was pregnant again.

Helene Deforge book Mammah

photography: Polina Ilieva


How do you rest from motherhood and what is your recipe for handling the tough moments?

It is not the motherhood that I need a rest from. I need a rest from the exhausting experience of trying to work with a small kid constantly running around, needing all our attention. Ever since Hannah was born, her father has been taking huge care of her and I am very thankful for his love and devotion. This is the reason why motherhood is not the hardest part of my everyday life.
Being a wedding photographer makes my job a kind of seasonal one. My busiest months are the ones between May and December. When I shoot I am often gone for 15 hours a day or for a whole weekend. When I am home busy with retouching the photos, I get up at 5 or 6 in the morning to be able to do some work while Hannah still sleeps. And honestly, I can’t wait for the end of the season to come, so I can have some quality months off and enjoy motherhood to the fullest. 

Poli and Hanna working

photography: Dimitar Atanasov


What are your tips for going through the tough moments and keeping your other life alive?

Trying to think of the difficult moments as just that: moments which will pass. Looking at Hannah and reminding myself what she means to us, how much we love her and how beautiful life is with her being around. We do everything together. She is a part of all the aspects of our lives and she is always with us. When we meet friends, go to events, a bar or a restaurant, when we travel, when we work. So we keep our other life alive by making her a part of it. 

Poli and Hannah together

photography: Dimitar Atanasov


What do you dream of? (not in general, but personally for yourself)

I wouldn’t mind having some time for myself and I know someday I will have it again. But what I dream of is travelling the world with Hannah. We recently had our first real trip abroad with her and she was just amazing. We travelled just the way we used to, the only difference was we were +1. I can’t wait to take her to our favourite places in the world and discover new ones with her.

photography credits: Polina Ilieva, Nadya Andreeva, Dimitar Atanasov, Dimitri Stefanov, Geri Dineva Before Creating Academy

Poli vs. Polina Ilieva Photography