The Russian Photographers Making Us Love Russia Even More


You have already been introduced to our preferred Moldovan photographers, and following the Tbilisi Photo Festival, you know which Georgian photographers we love. But Russia is bursting with creative talent as well, and the artists we have been following for a while will give you an insight into what life in the world’s largest, and possibly most misunderstood, country is like.

We tend to think of Russia as a surreal space, as a stage for crazy and outerworldly scenes. This is probably exactly the foundation for many a russophile’s fascination with the place, but at the same time, Russia is just another country, with normal people, trying to normally live their lives. Its vast size, rich history, ethnic diversity, and the flexibility of its residents make for a goldmine for any photographer – and here are some of our favourites:

Alexey Fokin

Perhaps you remember Alexey from the photo essay about the Moscow metro we did with him a while ago. And even though we remain huge fans of the photos he shot in this underground universe, his expertise is not limited to visual storytelling of the Russian capital’s commuters only. Mainly working in black and white, he does striking portraits as well, and, as an actor, documents what is going on behind the scenes in theatre and film productions. Dramatic shading is his signature, and he manages to translate everyday, seemingly boring rituals into great photos. Alexey is clearly a man of many talents, but honestly, we particularly envy him for his mean dancing skills. Check out his flickr account for inspiration on how to run the show during your next club night.

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Nikolai Gontar

Nikolai is a freelance photojournalist from Saint Petersburg who has worked for several Russian and Finnish news outlets. He has the rare talent to know exactly when to shoot a photo, resulting in fascinating and sometimes comical and surreal pictures. His work often includes a stark contrast between colours, and the composition is always exactly right. He excels in urban photography, and his reflection of the beautiful and sometimes crazy city of Saint Petersburg is unparalleled. His work is certainly worth your time and attention, as he brings aesthetics, curiosity, and personal stories together in those amazingly timed shots of his.

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Dmitry Lookianov

Born in Krasnodar, but a long-term resident of Moscow, the impressive Dmitry (featured photo) has seen his work published in media outlets such as the Calvert Journal (where he was shortlisted as one of the photographers for the New East Photo Prize 2016), Bird in Flight, Slate Magazine, and Inrussia. He has had both solo and group exhibitions all over Russia and Europe, and is the proud owner of two Silver Camera awards. He notably has a keen eye for humourous, slightly odd still lifes, as well as streetscapes of Russian suburbs with always a surprising element to them. We love him for his clean compositions and clever and satisfying use of accents of colour.

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Diana Mindubaeva

Originally hailing from Uzbekistan, but a resident of Saint Petersburg, Diana caught our eye with her playful documentation of cityscapes. As an actress and ballerina, creativity runs through her veins, and her photographic work shows this, too. Whether it is a vivid representation of Tashkent, or a series about the unavoidable pigeons of Russia’s second city, she knows exactly how colours are emphasizing and illuminating her shots. With a slight preference for romantic scenes and touching everyday urban life, Diana gives us her interpretation of both Russia and Uzbekistan – which we gladly absorb.

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