“Letter in a bottle” — a 2.5D Short Film Made on a Budget – by Tihomir Lazarov

Tihomir Lazarov


Tihomir Lazarov is a commercial portrait photographer from Bulgaria who started photography as a business 5 years ago. He’s a strong believer in personal projects alongside with commercial work. His main tool in his gear list is his imagination. Everything else can be learned, rented or bought.


Letter in a bottle

Recently I’ve published a promo project that I created for my portfolio that took me 8 months to complete. It was a simple romantic story of a 19th century young girl who finds a letter in a bottle which tells her about the existence of her twin sister. She travels to her sister’s place going through adventures.

Letter in a bottle

It was the late autumn of 2013 when I started the project after going through different ideas for about a month. It was this tough time when the phone was not ringing so I decided to take the time for another personal project that may attract new clients.

As it was already cold and I didn’t want to wait for the warm seasons I decided to photograph the model separately from the backgrounds. The next several months I spent traveling, photographing different parts of the backgrounds, building miniatures (like the pier on the first few images), drawing and composing pictures together. I already have a database of backgrounds I shot myself. That’s why I was only going after the missing elements.

Letter in a bottle

Letter in a bottle

Letter in a bottle

The project was all done on a budget having lots of passion, great model and a small set of technology tools — old discontinued crop sensor camera, several lights and Photoshop. The total cost was not more than $500.

I’m usually trying to avoid composing images in Photoshop and I’m not that good at that. It takes me a lot of time and my goal is to tell a story, not showing visual effects. At the end I created a 2.5D film:

Here’s the breakdown of one of the scenes:

See all the stills from the story on Lazarov’s website.

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