Like Sasha (yday portrait) Anna also said the most memorable event last year was a real-life lesson. Anna, who comes from a well-to-do family near the Ukraine border, said she decided to donate lots of her clothing and toys to Donetsk refugees. However, she gave away her first childhood toys that had family meaning, so Anna had to go to the refugee camp to find them. Anna said visting the camp shocked her as she "had never seen people in such poverty before."
Sasha, an economics student, said one of her most memorable events last year was a tough, real-life lesson in personal finance. Like many others, her family's dollar mortgage became a burden when the ruble tumbled. Thus, Sasha said she spent a lot of time running back and forth to banks to get the mortgage converted to rubles. Sasha, who wants to develop and market new consumer products, said people should not take a mortgage in foreign currencies.
Another photo of Nikolai, the retired machinery worker who has taken up ice-skating for firs time in decades to stay in shape. Nikolai came to the pond by bicycle.
Ruslan, 22, a geology graduate student, said his most memorable event last year was hitch-hiking around Armenia for two weeks with his girlfriend. ‘’Armenians are very hospitable - they were not only willing to pick us up along the road, they would invite us for coffee, offer food or even to stay at their places.'’ Ruslan said he met his girlfriend through a rockabilly dance school, where they both take lessons.
He was making espresso and cappuccino near a Moscow university from the back of a 'coffee car.' These coffee cars started appearing about 1-2 years ago here and are becoming a bit of a trend as people get used to coffee-on-the-go. He said the machines can work in temp as cold as -15c. His company chose this location as 'students like to drink coffee.' The ruble drop has boosted his company's costs by 30%. They haven't yet passed on the costs to coffee drinkers, but his coffee is still cheaper than the Starbucks 100 meters from his car. I asked him about thd big moments in his life in 2014. He said he moved recently to Moscow from Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia to save money to build a home. He also said he was Muslim and began reading for 1st time a prayer book, which has had a very big impact on his life. "Before, I didn't know the purpose of life, where we came from. I am trying to find the answers.
I had just taken a photo of a guy selling coffee from a 'coffee van' when this guy came over, a briefcase in hand. He started asking the coffee guy what I was doing, so I turned around and told him I was working on a Russia photo project. He said he was from Azerbaijan, but moved to Russia some 10 years ago and has Russian citizenship.
I then asked if I could talk to him and photograph him for my project. He said yes and insisted on speaking English with me. He said he has a family clothing business, buying goods from China and selling them here. He said the clothing he was wearing - the jacket, scarf and sweater - was exactly the stuff he sells. He said he only buys his family the clothes that he sells. He said things have been a bit tough with the ruble move, though you would never guess that by the positive mood that he was in. He said he was working on 20 contracts with shopping centers in Russia, but the deals fell through after the ruble dropped. As we were talking next to a university, I asked him to stand in front of it so i could take his picture.
A university guard came up and said we couldn’t photograph. We asked why. ‘’It’s not permitted.’’ What are we doing wrong?' I asked. He repeated that it was not permitted, throwing in the ‘’What can I do, this is Russia’’ excuse as he shrugged his shoulders. The Azeri - perhaps in reaction to the guard's concern - then asked me if I was writing ‘compromat’ - or dirt - on Russia. No, I told him. He was relieved I was not doing compromat and we went to another spot to photograph. He then asked if he could take a photo with me. I said sure. He walked over to the guard and asked him to take our photo, but he refused. So, he walked over to three students - two guys and a girl - and asked them if they could take our photo with his phone. He told them I was American and was doing a photo project, adding it wasn’t compromat. The girl giggled. One of the guys took the phone and photographed us. He then gave me a traditional handshake and departed.
I remember how some friends in NYC changed their look and image rather substantially after one or two years after highschool...Anna, who grew up in a provincial Volga town, entered university as an architecture student in Sept 2013 with brown hair. By January 2014, she had black hair. By June, when I first past her at a bus stop, she was blonde with dreads and 'India-inspired' clothing. She said she was on her way to a weekend-long outdoor music festival and dreamed of visiting India. When I saw her again at end of 2014, she said she was taking time off from university, spending her days drawing India motifs and doing yoga.
Sasha was eating in the back of a 1950s style American diner in Moscow late one evening. He was dressed in an outfit that reminded me of old-school rappers from the 1980s, so I walked over to chat. He said he is a pop singer in the duo 'In2Nation' and had just come from the studio. Having attended a highschool focusing on stage performance & jazz, he is is now studying singing at university. He did not follow in his parents footsteps, both of whom are winter biathlonists.
He was walking toward Arbat Street in a colorful outfit and instrument on his back, so I stopped to chat with him. He said he was born in Krygyzstan and spent a total of 18.5 years behind bars. When I asked for what, he answered "Everything! Marihuana, theft, armed assult." He then went off to meet some young people, leaving me with the feeling he may still see the inside of a prison.#prison #moscow #russia #portrait #life#streetphoto #story #photojournalism#instagood
Anya was sitting in a tiny cafe next to a bus station one early morning with her fellow classmate Angelina when I walked in. Anya, who has Polish roots like many Belarus citizens, said she wanted to study landscape design in St Petersburg, Russia but her mother didn't like the idea of her being far from home. Thus, she settled for web design in Minsk. Anya said she hopes to go to St Pete once she finishes her Web design degree. Her friend Angelina though wants to go to west to Poland to continue her studies. When I asked about work in Belarus, they said web designers could find jobs, but the salary may not be high - a comment I heard repeatedly during my stay.