Photographer Vladimir Sokolayev: “A photographer is a sniper, not a machine gunner”

The blogger missis_volovitz writes: “I have a lot of journalistic materials, which I am not ashamed to share even after some time. Here, for example, an interview with a photo artist Vladimir Sokolayev. The recognized master of social photography of the 80s, he was part of the famous creative group Triva, which, according to one version, was covered for political reasons. Today Sokoliev lives between Novokuznetsk, where he has a workshop, and Moscow. But he spends most of his time in open space, doing landscape photography.

Vladimir Sokolaev told about the limits of cruelty in filming, about the best camera in the world, about the “Soviet rake” and why nature is more interesting than humans.


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Source: Journal / missis-volovitz

1. Vladimir Sokolayev

- Is social photography a document? Or does it still have an artist's view?

- Document. I enter the room, see how the event is decorated, and fix it. My task as a photographer is to collect all this within the frame boundary, correctly position it and press the trigger in time. Each event has some peak points - I shot them. At the same time, I tried to be as detached as possible: the more transparent I am at the shooting, the more profitable for me. By the pictures there are my signatures about the events depicted on them, this is where my intervention in human life ends.

- Are you still filming or switched to a digit?

- Now on the figure. In general, what kind of camera falls into the hands, I take it off. There is no particular difference. On the other hand, as a photographer, I was brought up by a film. Better than film Leica has not yet been invented, in my opinion. I mostly shot at a focal length of 50 mm - this is how the eye sees. Therefore, I already knew in advance that I would see the camera in the viewfinder, all I could do was release the shutter. In general, "leichniki" perfectly understand each other. There is no mirror in it, so the photographer is looking directly, he is not hiding behind the camera, and the device is not wedged between people.Plus, it is silent, so the photographer is almost imperceptible to people. I am very sorry that the young guys, who are now starting to shoot, have almost no such educational function, when you have 36 shots loaded and be kind enough to keep them.

2. Washing the Lenin Mausoleum for the holiday. On the eve of the November demonstration, the stones of the chief's tomb are put in order, and its face is reflected in the granite. 11.11.1988

- Can we say that digital photography "corrupts" the photographer?

- The abundance of vodka in stores does not make us drunkards. A lot, so what? When a person learns to answer for each click, he stops shooting a lot. A photographer is a sniper, not a machine gunner. Why “shoot” from the belly - all the same there will be no sense. Must be responsible for the frame.

- The last photo on the social theme you made in 1988. If you were still engaged in this genre, how would you see a modern Russian person?

- A person can not change instantly. We are all the same. Some paradoxical, absurd things that we see at this exhibition, they are still in bulk. I once walked in the doorway, and there - “death” ... All in black, waving obliquely.Some guys dressed up for the holiday, but they were not allowed to take pictures. If it is still properly removed, it would be an indicator of what is happening now.

3. Gypsy cowgirl on a horse. From an early age, children become familiar with the saddle and help adults graze the flock. Roma-herdsmen. Outskirts of Ongudai village. Siberia. 07/30/1980

- Would you like the USSR to return?

- Not. I was already in it. Why double attack on the same rake? Maybe someone is not enough once, but I had enough. With this exhibition I do not set myself the task of remaking a person, but simply showing that world and the people he surrounded. This is all - our history and my past, what I was in, what lies at the basis of everything that is happening now. One of the goals of this exhibition is to learn. If these pictures do not convince people that they no longer need to return there, then for God's sake, let them step on this rake. Someday they will still learn.

- Were you in trouble with the authorities about the plots of your photos?

- In 1982, my colleagues and I on the Triva photo group gained courage and decided to take part in the World Press Photo (the most prestigious competition of photojournalism. - Ed.).And the applications of Soviet photographers for WPP were taken through the "Soviet photo". They were taken there by Olga Suslova, the daughter-in-law of that very Suslova, only she could travel with these photos. We went the other way - the official. Sent through the "Soviet Mail". They reached Moscow, they were looked at there and sent to the Kemerovo regional committee of the party. In Novokuznetsk, the authorities were familiar with our photos - they hung on the city stand, but they did not know them in the regional committee. There they were laid out on the table and as they saw ... Immediately a call to the first secretary of the Novokuznetsk City Party Committee, he was in the car and in Kemerovo. After that, we began to extrude. We were then listed on the film correspondent center of the Kuznetsk Metallurgical Combine, and we had to roll up with it - we were simply squeezed out of the plant. Nobody took the devices from us, but they tried to confiscate the negatives. Nothing happened with them, and we continued to shoot, only at another enterprise.

- Many experts in the field of reportage photography have called World Press Photo 2011 "pornography of cruelty." What do you think, where and how should the ethical boundaries for a photojournalist pass?

- I watched the latest World Press Photo.It turned out like this, because it does not become calmer in the world. Photographers also have a certain aversion to what is happening, and they fix this disgust in the frame and transmit it to the viewer. Still, these shots are intended for the press, and this suggests that the world is interested in all of this. One time in Soviet photography there was a very long discussion around the question of what should be done first: to help people, for example, to get a bloody person out of a car, or still to take a picture for a start? I know one thing: if you have a camera in your hands and no one else has it, take one picture and then go help.

4. Freed on the city beach. Clothing hides the body, completely covered with a prison tattoo. Topolniki. River Tom. Novokuznetsk. Kuzbass. Siberia. 08.08.1982

- Why did you stop doing social photography and went to landscape?

- As they grow older, the area of ​​interest expands. There was a time in my life when I was extremely interested in a person, what he created around himself — society, relations in him, reactions of such a structure as a state. But all these were Soviet times, with all its paradoxes.And then the moment came when I was interested in something more - how the world works out of the context of human society. Studying the picture of the world has become closer to me than the topic of society, because there is no person in it, like its units. In nature, it exists on an equal footing with an ant, with an eagle, with rivers and lakes. When a person falls into a big world, the scale, the ratio changes. In order for him not to get lost in nature, he must become a part of it - this is a completely different relationship with the world. The closer they get, the less weight the social part of the human being has, and gradually it is completely lost. This is how climbers gradually go to the mountains or sailors think of the seas, but not of cities. Because when we begin to feel a larger whole, we have less attention left for less. It happened to me.

- So you became an escapist?

- Of course not. Just, you know, you live, for example, in a one-room apartment, and then you get to the expanses of the steppe and you no longer fit into this apartment - the body becomes different, the attention is different. But I rarely meet a person harmoniously inscribed in nature. Usually these are people who simply do not exist for the state and travel through space.

five.Yustida tree at dawn. Mountain Altai. July 28, 2006

- Can we say that through landscape photography you study yourself first of all?

- Usually you start to notice your legs when they suddenly stumble. And so they are some kind of natural continuation of the body that walks and goes for itself. Therefore, questions to yourself appear when there are some kind of “spooking”, “non-folding”. This happens to a person not only in the landscape. Photography in principle requires a person to study himself. The photographer's attitude to everything is painted and his pictures. Therefore, when another competent photographer or just a thinking person looks at my photos, he sees these my “non-folding” ones. Sometimes conversations on this topic are much more important than discussing the characteristics of a photo.

As for the landscape, then it is necessary to enter it correctly, just like visiting - through the door. Not through the window or something else, do not try to break into it. The landscape is the forces that put mountains, rivers and everything else. They are much stronger than man. To erase it into powder, it takes only one small rockfall. In order not to be overwritten in these stones, it is necessary to find the right way, say hello and enter. We are guests and on the planet, and in general in life. This must be remembered.We are in contact with nature, not with our words or gestures, but with internal actions, with our readiness to enter it.

- Good. If a person is a guest everywhere, then where is his house?

- Only inside yourself. If we built this house, we will be accepted everywhere. If not, then we will always rebuild everything.

- In addition to photography, you also shoot landscape films. Do they have what can be called a plot?

- As much as there is a plot in what is happening in nature - dawn, sunset, rain, sun, clouds. A life.

6. Sunset in the Kurai steppe. Mountain Altai. 07.26.2006

7. Return to the storm and to the city. September 28, 2010

8. Gesture of God. Lightning over the Mammoth Island and the village of Ilinka. 07/14/2009

9. Canyon Kyzylchik River. Chui steppe. Mountain Altai. 07.26.2006

10. Male menhir in the “Small Valley of Kings”. Khakassia 07.23.2005

11. The bed of the river Elangash after the earthquake. Chui steppe. Mountain Altai. August 3, 2008

12. Brothers. Novokuznetsk. Kuzbass. Siberia 04/04/1985

13. A collective of collective farmers gathered for a speech by artists of mobile propaganda team. Kolkhoz Forward. Novokuznetsk district. 06.06.1980

14. Wind in the city. Novokuznetsk. Siberia. 05/11/1983

15. Meeting veterans of the Baltic Fleet. Admiralty passage, Leningrad. 05/09/1982

16. Entrance to the Vaganova Ballet School. Rossi Street. Leningrad.06/26/1982

17. The main alley of the Summer Garden in winter. Leningrad. 02/14/1982

18. Female choir. City Song Festival on Theater Square. 06/06/1979

19. Pouring ice at the stadium "Metallurg". Novokuznetsk. 02.11.1984

20. Frozen flags on Victory Day. Theatre square. Novokuznetsk. Kuzbass, Siberia. 05/09/1985

21. Department of Pediatric Orthopedics. Waiting to see a doctor. Novokuznetsk. Kuzbass. Siberia. 08/19/1983

22. Quartz. Children's home on the street Suvorov. 01.22.1981

23. Bookstore. Department of second-hand literature. Kirova street. Novokuznetsk. Kuzbass. Siberia. 01/21/1983

24. Corridor maternity hospital. Kefir after childbirth. 1st clinical maternity hospital. Novokuznetsk. Kuzbass. Siberia. 06/29/1981

25. Fans of rock and roll in the dance class. Novokuznetsk. Siberia. 02/12/1988

26. Punishment. In a quiet hour, a boy punished for misconduct stands on the veranda of a dormitory. Sports camp "Metallurg". 08/09/1979

27. New Year's Eve ball in the music school. The boy watches with bewilderment as the adult guys aggressively feed each other fresh cucumbers. 10/4/1986

28. Rest of bakers. Rural bakery. Ongudai village. Gorno-Altai Autonomous Region. 07.28.1980. Despite the fact that the bakery set up an automatic dough filling line, because of the imperfection of its design, the bread turns out to be bad, un-cakeless.Therefore, in order not to hear from relatives and friends of reproaches for poor baking, the bakers include the line only for the time of the arrival of the inspectors, and at the rest of the time they pack the dough into forms with their hands. And so - five or six vats per shift. Bread turns out excellent. Ongudai village. Gorno-Altai Autonomous Region.

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