Dimitar Kavra is the first photographer in Plovdiv to try to take panoramic photos of the city


With the achievements of modern photography we are used to looking at all kinds of shots and panoramic views. With the ease and the possibility to take out our 100-gram mobile phone at any time and to recreate in a photo the beauty around us for a split second, we can hardly imagine shooting, which requires a technological time of 7-8 minutes. Now automatic filters and settings further beautify our photos and for most of us it quickly becomes a hobby to capture the places we visit or the places we love.

Very little is known about the history of photography in Plovdiv. There are almost no documents, only one clear trace stands out - the studio of Atanas Ioanovic from Vratsa, which was opened in 1841 in Belgrade. It is supposed to be the first photography studio in Southeast Europe. It was in this studio that from 1842 to 1843 Atanas Sahatchi from Vratsa studied. After mastering the intricacies of the craft, Sahatchi settled in Plovdiv. His are the first photographs under the hills.

Atanas Sahatchi also taught students. One of them was Hadzhi Nikola Kavra. At that time, Kavra was one of the most prominent members of the Fur Guild. Apparently Sahatchi’s student became permanently interested in photography, because by 1851 - 1852 he opened his own photo studio. There are no preserved documents about Hadzhi Nikola Kavra's fascination with photography. The only evidence is the surviving photographs. The earliest of them dates from 1852. After 1865, Nikola Kavra worked with his son Dimitar. One of the first valuable works of the family photo studio was the portrait of the Plovdiv Metropolitan Neophyte, taken probably in 1871. The photograph is not inferior to the best European models of that time.

It is believed that Dimitar Kavra was born in 1835. Publications confirm the opinion that his father was his first teacher. After that, Dimitar continued his studies with Atanas Sahatchi, and perfected his profession in Constantinople. In 1888 Dimitar became a court photographer of the Bulgarian Knyaz Ferdinand I in Plovdiv. This recognition for Dimitar Kavra was an exceptional achievement, given the rivalry of prominent European photographers working at the same time in our country.

He is the first photographer in Plovdiv to try to take panoramic photos of the city. The earliest is from 1873. The southern part of Dzhambaz Tepe and Taksim Tepe with the buildings of the St. Petka - old church, the Greek high school, the houses of Chalakovtsi and the other impressive buildings on the Three Hills. According to the technology of that time, the shooting lasted at least 7-8 minutes and that is why the images in the foreground are unclear. His work was bound in a special cover and shaped like an album. The next attempt was from February 1878. In 1881 Dimitar Kavra took two other panoramas of Plovdiv, the next one was from the beginning of 1892. His are probably other photographs published without a signature in 1891-1892 in the Our first exhibition newspaper.

Later, at the beginning of the 20th century, these emblematic places were photographed by a number of other photographers, bringing to the fore the neighborhood called Tepe Alta with the convent of St. Petka Church and the place where the Monday market formed later.