In Valerii's LomoHome, currently, there are only two albums: Kyiv 2020 and Kyiv 2021. Through his film photos, we are given a visual tour of Ukraine's bustling capital—and a very thorough one at that. It is because Valerii (aka @utro) has an eye for detail and never lets a moment pass without capturing it with his camera.
Valerii's passion for analogue photography started many years ago, but it didn’t survive the digital transition. He bought several digital cameras in a row and decided, during quarantine, to get rid of his analogue photo gear. He put his Olympus XA up for sale at what he thought was quite a high price and it was sold in minutes. He was surprised by this interest—could people still be using film for photography? His intrigue led him to acquire some compact cameras and discovering Lomography.
New places spark inspiration among photographers, but the pandemic has halted opportunities to travel. Valerii views the limitations as a great opportunity to explore one's native city. In 2020 alone, he took 315 photos of Kyiv; this year, it's 2,256 and counting. Given the current circumstances, I was curious about his observations—how has the pandemic transformed the city? How did/do the locals adapt? He didn't specify the changes and I realized it was better to find the answers through his photographs. Instead, he offered a more general perspective on Kyiv:
"Kyiv is changing constantly in two ways - good and bad ones. On a macro level, changes are mostly bad due to bad urban planning: new ugly buildings, ruined spaces, etc. But on a micro-level, I always can find inspiration on how people try to organize spaces around them to create beauty and comfort. You can find a lot of small urban spaces or artifacts in Kyiv, which are a creation not of major city urbanists, but ordinary people around their small businesses or homes."
As someone who has never been to Kyiv, I asked about the routes that he photographed and what made these places special. Although it is quite obvious in his photos that the city offers a myriad of cultural charm, I wanted to learn from a local's perspective.
"Historically, from the very long past, Kyiv is combined from several "cities", which are now more or less represent different districts. And those cities differ from each other quite a lot in architecture, culture, and vibes. The main street, Khreshchatyk, used to be a river, separated the city, and the famous hills by the river Dnipro are other geographical separators. So now, we have such completely different parts of the city like Podil, which more or less can be seen as Kyiv's analogue for Berlin's Kreuzberg. We have Lypky, with Governmental Quarter, as a kind of prestigious district. We have `Champs Élysée - like` Khreshchatyk with its Maidan, other more or less authentic districts and places, and of course, a lot of streets, gardens, squares in between. So, in all of those varieties, there are for sure a lot of hidden locations to shoot."
As for his personal preference in photographic subjects, he is not limited to the hip and happening places.
"It's much more interesting for me to shoot not just new locations but people and artifacts, such as cars, bikes, etc. I find myself mostly patrolling the same routes around my home district, hunting for interesting scenes and lighting. I think it is good art and mental practice."
To see more of Valerii's photos of Kyiv, check out his LomoHome!