Photography is my accidental and unintentional
Photographer Misha Maslennikov was born in 1964 in the village of Dobroe near Moscow. Since the middle of 2005 Misha became interested in photography and seriously thought about a way of expressing his thoughts through photography.
He often travels alone to remote places, paying special attention to visiting monasteries and ancient temples, where he documents people’s way of life and comes into real interaction and contact with the inhabitants of the hinterland. When I first saw Misha’s work, it seemed very readable to me: a traditional-classical documentary approach, down-to-earth filming, and in terms of emotions — loneliness, heaviness and a deep aura. So I contacted Misha and had a chat with him about photography:
1. How did you get started in photography?
Misha: For me, photography began by chance, spontaneously, unintentionally. As a young man who studied applied arts, and before that had an art degree, then studied theology at university, I often went on long journeys to remote and isolated villages, northern monasteries and the tundra in search of the meaning of life. I first picked up a camera when I was in my early 40s, and as soon as I saw the photographs developed, I almost immediately decided to become a documentary photographer.
2. How do you structure your work? How do you choose what to photograph?
Misha: On the one hand, being a perfectionist, I take any work, especially creative work, very seriously. I study the existing material on the chosen subject, study the peculiarities and traditional way of life of the people I will meet and make plot adjustments on the spot. As a rule, I am very careful in my choice, but I am always surprised by the gifts of fate, and I must always be ready to meet something extraordinary and unplanned. In short, ready to meet a miracle.
3. Is there a photograph that really struck you during the shoot?
Misha: I would choose a photograph where a small miracle happened, and not just because it looks good. For example, some moments that you thought you lost but ended up capturing are perceptual experiences and God’s marvellous Providence.
Misha Maslennikov has a very rigorous photography and he is a very serious person, I had a lot of conversations with him about photography afterwards and we will talk more about him in the future.
Edited/written by An Li Nan
BGM: Shockwave-Sound — Tchaikovsky: Barcarolle June (Boat Song) The Seasons.
*The above conversation and works are shown at White Bear Pictures with permission of photographer Misha Maslennikov.
BGM：Shockwave-Sound — 柴可夫斯基：六月（船歌）‧四季
Misha Maslennikov’s Tips for Beginning Photographers
Born in 1964, the famous Russian documentary photographer photographer Misha Maslennikov can be said to be an old friend of Polar Bear Images, and recently he talked about some of the advice he gives to novice photographers, and especially here to share it as well, here is what Misha Maslennikov told us:
“If you are a serious photographer, if you study the basics of photography at specialist institutions or if you have a good mentor privately, then you will definitely learn a lot and gain the most important things to know about photography from your teachers. You will learn about the process itself, about the history of photography, and all this is not insignificant… Because the recipe for good photography lies first of all in formatting the photographer’s own consciousness, his versatility of views, his self-education or education in the classical sense. Mechanically, I would suggest trying to draw, even if you are not a professional painter or calligrapher, it doesn’t matter, you should try to capture a certain subject or image without any technical means.
And of course, to master technology, in particular, I would recommend diving into analogue processes — going back to the roots of photography, trying to shoot on film yourself, print by hand and making a selection of photos that are laid out as prints on your desk. Because, in my opinion, the digital world, into which we have dove and I fear we will never come up again, is penetrating all areas of human activity too intensively. Not to mention images, which in turn are also constantly transforming and in the future will take on some other, perhaps holographic form. However, it all turns into soulless simulacra, whereas real photography is warm, it has soul, it has depth within itself, it has space… I’m talking about prints, tactile photography which should hang on the wall and delight the viewer in an interior, museum or exhibition space…
But I put self-development at the centre of it all. Photography is a human being, first of all. And only his own inspiration — I’m not even talking about talent, I’m talking about his ambition to prove himself in photography, his desire to continuously improve — determines the final result and, if he is lucky, the work of art. Again, to continuously improve and simply be a good person. A photographer has to be a good person. All the real photographers I know, who are no longer with us, they were great people. They were unique and amazing, so their photography, too, is amazing and unique.”
Editor/writer by An Li Nan
*The content of the above dialogue and the work has been shown at White Bear Images with the permission of the photographer Misha Maslennikov himself, and with respect to his wishes not to make too many cuts.
1964年出生的俄罗斯著名纪实摄影师摄影师米沙·马斯连尼科夫（Misha Maslennikov）可以说是白熊图片社的老朋友了，最近他谈到了自己给新手摄影师的一些建议，特别在此也分享一下，以下是Misha Maslennikov对我们的讲述内容：