I love to tell stories. I love to tug at the heart strings of the viewer with my images. I strive for a multi layered photo, that contains life in its complexity.

The day I laid my 12-year-old hands on my father’s ancient rangefinder manual camera, that had sun and cloud icons in lieu of speed settings, my passion for photography was born. I chased the cat around, to his extreme annoyance, posed him in my school bag wearing a bow tie, or sleeping with a toothpick between his teeth. I progressed to snapping shots of my classmates when they weren’t looking or posing. I learned to make black and white prints in my father’s dark room, and at 13, was the only family member trusted with entrance to the room with foul smelling trays of chemicals, where the magic of images emerging on paper would regularly astound.

I began my formal training in photojournalism at the American University in Bulgaria, where I photographed blind children learning how to play basketball, deaf children leaning how to dance, and mentally handicapped children learning math. I continued my education in the master’s program at the University of Montana in Missoula, where I concentrated on volunteers and people helping others for a living. As a teaching assistant I shared my knowledge with hundreds of students, both in the classroom and in the photo lab.

I moved to Abilene, TX, in 2001 to work at as a photojournalist at the Abilene Reporter-News, where my role eventually expanded to video, writing feature stories and participating in news planning meetings. I have done some freelance work for other publications, including the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News. I have provided photography and video services to corporate clients and non-profit organizations.

I’ve won over 70 awards, 43 of them in the National Press Photographers Association Monthly Clip Contest, for Region 8, comprising of all size newspapers from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Mexico from 2003 to 2017.  Of those, 11 were in Features, ten in Spot News, 11 in Feature Multiple, four in General News, four in Sports and three in Illustration. I have won several awards in the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors annual contest, the Scripps quarterly contest, the Journal Media quarterly contest, the Editor and Publisher photo of the week, the WashingtonPost.com oddball photo of the week, the Annual Governor’s Cup Professional Photo Contest and the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association annual editorial contest. I won three awards in the annual College Photographer of the Year contest for multimedia, general news and illustration.

You can reach me at nellie.doneva@gmail.com.