New Book Cover

I haven't updated my graphic-design portfolio in a long time. Naturally, there is a lot of newer work to share. 

One of my recent covers is this one. It is an illustration to a mystery-and-crime novel written by a well-known lawyer and a television personality in Russia. This is my second book cover for this client. 

The first one—and interior illustrations—are here.

Heart of Moscow (From the Archives)

This is the proverbial heart of Moscow.

You can even see the Kremlin looming in the background. I could wander here for hours.

Blueprints of these streets—both the old, narrow, winding, covered with cobble stone and broad, multi-lane highways—exist semi-consciously in my mind or, perhaps, on a more primal, physical level.  I walk and walk these streets somewhere at the intersection of sight and disjointed memories: I've been here before, and I'll be here again. 

You know, I think I'm really liking this self-imposed archival section of the blog. Not only does it allow me to reevaluate my previous work, but also to discover certain aesthetically pleasing photographs that have been hiding in my files!

Foodography

On Old New Year's Eve, according to the original Julian calendar, I've made some standard Russian bliny. (These are similar to crepes, you ignorant fools! Just kidding—about the "fools" part.)

With a twist.

You see, I am practically surrounded by people who take the so-called paleolithic, low-carb diet (way too) seriously, so I've experimented by using gluten-free almond flour instead. The taste was practically identical, though, of course, this really was an excuse for me to engage in some food photography.

Eurasia sans Color

Beyond this city dweller's melancholy and, at the same time, inquisitive facial expression (!), I've liked this image ever since I had captured it. Yet I couldn't quite determine as to why.

Only after converting it to sepia, I realized that what I was being drawn to was its strong tactile quality--the textural contrast between the rusted fence and this Eurasian crow's smooth, shiny feathers.

Color, color that I normally love, had to be destroyed.

Placebo

Perhaps, I am getting a tad predictable in my old age.

After all, as I had tasted my coffee diluted with cold autumn rain on another interchangeable cloudy, stormy, gray evening on the way home, I've naturally gravitated toward posting sun-kissed onion domes of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.

And a place that I always miss. Sometimes more so than others.

Hauteur

"It was wrong, all wrong,"  I thought.

The outfits? Too Disney. The girl? Too much makeup. 

To top it off, if she were trying to portray a young Catherine the Great, with which this palace in Pushkin was usually associated, then she looked too Slavic to be Germanic. 

Indeed, her features were somewhat common, peasantly: she even had the famous Russian "duck nose," unlike the country's nobility, if physiognomic studies of portraiture were to be believed.

And what were they dancing, anyway? Mazurka? The Polonaise? Was this, at least, historically accurate? The latter, of course, was a sign of my own ignorance, but who'd want to admit that

There was something about the Rococo spirit of this place itself that made me feel rather haughty (more so than usual!). "Well, at least the lighting is nice," I finally admitted.

In Prayer?

She sat on a bench outside the Greater Church of the Ascension at Nikitskii Gates Square, glasses on the tip of her nose, as her entire face was buried in a prayer book held by the strained tips of her elongated fingers. Frowning heavily, her face had the expression not of mere concentration but of genuine sorrow.

 

Documentary photography of what I call The City presupposes my chosen subjects' complete lack of awareness that they are being targeted.  And I don't feel uncomfortable about that: after all, I am recording urban life--factographically, as 1920s Russian aesthetic theorists would've referred to it--with respect for each subject.

With her, however, I felt that I was infringing on a very private moment even if held in a public space. I suppose full-time photojournalists in war zones get over that sentiment very quickly.

To me, the line of documentation and intrusion now seems blurred.

Tablecloth Road

Imagine being a warrior or even a merchant in the lands of eastern Slavs, ancient Rus. The roads away from home could prove to be dangerous: you could encounter other warriors serving a hostile prince, bands of outlaws, and all kinds of mythic creatures, good and not so much. 

Was that the wind or Nightingale the Robber--born and raised near Briansk, my father's birthplace--up in the tree where the path disappears in the brush? 

And sometimes, there would be no roads all. 

This is why, whenever one had a long journey ahead of him, my ancestors would say, "Let the road become a tablecloth," smooth and predictable. 

Nowadays, that expression has the opposite interpretation, "Good riddance!", as do many others. "Putting a spell on one's teeth," for instance--in order to cure them--was once literal. Today, it means to distract someone's attention away from the real issues at hand.

Incidentally, the way I shot this image reminds me of Takao-san forest outside of Tokyo, although it is from the prairies.