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The Sun Also Rose – 365 Times for Photographer Rositsa Rikova

Photo: Rositsa Rikova

It was at the break of day on the very first morning of 2021 in Varna. The rising sun was so spectacular that Rositsa Rikova made a New Year’s resolution – to take a photograph of each and every sunrise in the next 365 days. And so The Sunrise girl (as her social media followers would call her later on) started her visual diary. Not once did she take the same shot of the everchanging skies in flame. We see the rising sun peeking through a veil of waterwhere a wave has just crashed on the rocks and exploded into millions of droplets, then her camera captured the stillness of a lake and the eerie reflection of a hundred-year old tree.

“It is very hard to pick out one of the 365 sunrises,” she says. “All of them are precious in their own way. I’ve seen breathtaking daybreaks, but the most memorable have been the ones when there were other people, when I was not alone, when we got together to meet the new sun,” Rositsa Rikova says.

“One of these dawns was the July Morning festival on the first day of July. Another unforgettable sunrise was the one I photographed from the rooftop of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Mother of God in Varna, and also the one I saw from a hot-air balloon over the Belogradchik rocks. I would not have experienced all these exceptional emotions if it weren’t for this project. That's why I'm grateful.”

Rositsa Rikova was born in Tervel, a town in northeastern Bulgaria, but she has lived in the Black Sea city of Varna for more than 20 years now. She is working as administrative assistant for the largest wind energy park in Bulgaria which is in harmony with her ardent love of nature. Another passion of hers is photography. Her ambition is to be able to shoot “as well as a “National Geographic" photographer”, so she enrolled in a photography course. “I wish I could capture everything that excites me - every sight, everything that I find interesting or unusual. I imagine one day when I go through my photographs it will take just one look to flip back in time," she says.

To capture the sunrises for her “biggest project so far” she needed to rise and shine every morning at 5 AM. This taught her perseverance - a quality she believed she lacked. Rikova found out how much she liked writing when the captions for her photographs every so often evolved into personal stories. 

“Sharing is very important to me, explains Rositsa Rikova. The Covid-19 pandemic and the lock-downs seem to have blotted out all the beauty in the world and all the good things in life. Sharing made me feel better especially when I saw that other people were inspired, just as I was. The thought that my photographs could bring a smile to people’s faces mattered a lot to me.”

People started to follow her lead – waking up, meeting the sun and taking photographs of sweet memories, crispy and tasty like French toast prepared on the beach, and served with home-made wild berries jam, or amazing and heartfelt as a chance meeting with a colorful elderly lady.

“I celebrated the last of the 365 sunrises with friends and social media followers, Rositsa Rikova says. – We were on the beach in Varna. There was a man with a bagpipe who started playing at sunrise. We lay on the sand in a circle to form the sun with our bodies and filmed this with a drone. I also received the best sun earrings - in fact, they proclaimed me queen of the sunrises and even crowned me.”

“I see each new sunrise as a new beginning and a new chance to become a better person”, says the Sunrise Girl. Now Rositsa Rikova os dreaming of welcoming the sun in the savannah, in the desert, in the jungle and at the North Pole. And she wishes to take a photo of "one sunrise from each country" - even though it might take several lives to do so.

Interview by Dimitrina Doncheva, BNR-Varna / Editing by Diana Tsankova

English version: Elizabeth Radkova

Photos: courtesy of Rositsa Rikova
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