Capturing Russia from white to black, north to south, east to west

Konstantin: Clothing Designer

MOSCOW: Konstantin, 21, designs and sews his own clothing under a brand he calls 'Forevanavsegda.' The Russian word 'navsegda' means forever. Konstantin says he finds inspiration in historical costumes, European avant-garde fashion and Soviet kitsch. I asked his view of the latest fashion trends in Russia. "Unfortunately, fashion has taken a turn for the worse in Russia. Almost everyone - at least men - dress the same. Fashion is now dictated by a concept of 'normalcy' rather than leading fashion brands. And those that want to look different are having to cut back."

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Rinat: Tutoring Math

MOSCOW: Rinat, a 3rd year math student, was standing outside a metro station offering his services as a math tutor and handing out his contact details. The 19-year old grew up in Orenburg near Kazakhstan and to Moscow to study math, following in his father's footsteps. The economic slowdown has hit most Russians with some parents unable to send as much money to their children studying in Moscow as before.  Rinat said he prefers to tutor math than wait tables and already has two students in high school. He said he tried advertising, but he received no calls, so thought it would be cheaper and more effective to stand outside a popular metro station. IT was his second time standing outside a metro station. Three people had taken his contact details on this day.  Rinat said he would like to stay in Moscow upon finishing his studies.

Dmitry: Musician on Arbat

MOSCOW: Old Arbat is one of the most popular streets in Moscow, with tens of thousands - if not more - strolling down the pedestrian street on any sunny weekend. Artists and street performers bid for the crowds attention - and free change. At any time, as many as 10 musicians may be playing on this street at any one time and more than a dozen portrait drawers. Dmitry, a teenager, is among the street musicians playing occasionally on Arbat. For the past year, he has been playing with two other people - both much older - that he met on Arbat. He said the most memorable moment over that period was when well-known Russian musician NoiseMC stopped as he walked along Arbat to play music with him.  

Fashionable Pensioner in Moscow

MOSCOW: Years ago, it was rare to see a pensioner in Moscow well-dressed. Many senior citizens stood by popular metro stations selling cigarettes or flowers to supplement their pension. Russian pensions have risen several fold over the years, outpacing inflation, while many Moscow families have more money to support their parents. Though many pensioners still sell goods on the road on at train stations in regional towns, the number of pensioners selling goods on Moscow's streets has fallen. This senior citizen reminded me of the changes over the past fifteen years. She stood out even from the fashionable crowd outside one of Moscow's busiest shopping centers. 

Daria: Crimean in Moscow

MOSCOW:  Daria, 17, was returning from the Tretyakovsky Gallery, one of Russia's best known museums. A native of Crimea, it was her first visit to the museum, so she spent four hours walking around. Having studied in an art school, she wanted to see up front the paintings by Repin and Vasnetsov that she read about in her text books. Daria said she studies philosophy and would like to become a speaker in her hometown. She said her shawl represents Slavic culture and religion.

Kolya: Living in a Tent

MOSCOW: ‘’When you live on the streets, when you have a tent and there is no chance of bathing, people don’t understand you and its tough to get a job,’’ said Kolya, 22. He was sitting near a popular pedestrian street in Moscow trying to collect money for a sleeping bag, he said. Born in a village in western Russia, Kolya said his mom put him into an orphanage when he was eight. At the time, the collective farm was falling apart and his mother had a third child. He said things are still difficult for his family. His mother, step-father and two brothers live in a room and his mom earns about $100 a month. ‘’So as not to be a burden," he said he left for Moscow a few months ago to look for work. He sleeps at night in the forests near the railroad tracks in the Moscow suburbs. I asked him what his plans were. ‘’If I raise money for a sleeping bag, I will hitchhike to Crimea. There is a lot of infrastructure to build in Crimea and an extra hand doesn’t hurt. Plus, it is a lot warmer there."

Dasha & Valeria: High School Classmates

MOSCOW: These days I see a lot more girls and women dressed in black from head to two. Dasha, left, wants to be a musician and her friend Valeria an architect. They are 15. 

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Lira: Recalling the 1990s

”One night my parents were screaming at each other when police with machine guns on their shoulders appeared right before my eyes and took my father away. It is still scary to remember the events of that day. As my childhood coincided with [the difficult] 1990s, we had problems with food and clothing.”

”My mother had to work a lot to feed me and my brother. Due to her young age, she spent her free time taking care of herself,’’ said Lira, 24, who organizes outings for youth in the EMO subculture in her free time.

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Russian EMO Fans

MOSCOW: Russian fans of emotional hardcore find each other on social media pages and regularly meet. This group met a metro station and then walked over to a park, where they hung out for an hour to talk and play.

Eva: Arkhangelsk High School Girl

ARKHANGELSK: The number of people exercising along Arkhangelsk's seaside caught my attention. I don't remember many people jogging or biking when I was here for years ago. Maybe it's because the boardwalk has been repaired or maybe its just part of the outdoor fitness trend visible in many cities around Russia. I asked Eva, 16, if she bikes often along Arkhangelsk's seaside. She said her parents recently gave her the bike for her birthday. However, Eva said she has been playing sports since a young age and would like to study sports medicine. "My grandparents have doctorates in science - my grandmother in pharmaceuticals and my grandfather in dentisty. They advise me to pursue medicine and it interests me. A sport medicine because I have been ice skating since childhood and I simply want to combine these two interests."

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