Russian community member Sasha Ivanov (@darkroomspb) documents the changes in his hometown of St. Petersburg through film. The results are filed under his photo album Postcards from St. Petersburg, images that convey his familiarity with the place, and carry the sentiments that perhaps only a local could ever relay through photography.
We talked to him about his project and more in this interview.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, as well as when you started shooting film and why you still continue shooting film now?
Hello, my name is Sasha Ivanov, I am a photographer from St. Petersburg. I make music and photographs. My photography started in 2007 as a schoolboy when a neighbour gave me his Lomography Fisheye camera.
Then I bought myself a Lomo LC-A. I had eight to ten of them, I gave them to my friends, and they shared their shots. I grew up and grew my pictures. There is almost nothing left of my friends' photos and I immersed myself in space exploration.
What was the idea behind naming one of your albums "Postcards from St. Petersburg" and what motivated you to take these photos of the place?
My hometown served as a reference point. It has changed since my childhood, has become more unrecognizable, expensive and overcrowded, although there were already a lot of people here in my childhood. In my album "Postcards from Saint-Petersburg" I try to catch the inevitable passing of time in my city.
It's time for wooden windows, doors, old elevator shafts, shabby walls and communal front doors, once flaunting their lush décor. Time for abandoned houses and dirty gates. The time when St. Petersburg is reborn.
My dream is that my photos will be saved forever and people who will live in St. Petersburg after me can find out what our city looked like, what its walls were and what trees grew everywhere.
Unfortunately, currently culture has left our city, everything is bought and sold, houses are demolished, glass hotels and business centers are being built. But I am sure that in the future there will be people who can appreciate its beauty. If I could live for 200 years, I would like to shoot every street from 1870 to the present.
Which cameras and film stocks did you use?
My film is Tasma 25. My cameras, Chinon CE-4s with different manual lenses, and Zorki-4.
What was the post-process like?
All works in this album (like all my works) are silver gelatin prints (manually signed postcards at the back), which I print in my darkroom. After manual printing, I scan my papers on the scanner and post them on my website, on Instagram and on my favorite platform, my LomoHome.
Is there a specific spot in St. Petersburg that you can call your favorite place?
Every place in St. Petersburg causes delight, I have a lot of favorite places, but my most favorite ones are the bridge over the Griboyedov Canal at night and the yard-seven.
What's the creative culture like in St. Petersburg? Is there still a strong community of individuals who shoot film and interact with each other?
We have a lot of photo communities, you don’t always have time to follow new faces, but I think the Lomography movement has become a little smaller after the Lomo-embassy closed. "Drying" was carried out (they hung their photos on the ropes and everyone could take any by hanging their own), and competitions were held then.
Now everything has flowed into the Internet and doubles competition and other competitions are now held on the Internet. I liked personal participation better.
Do you have a favorite among your photos in this album?
I’m self-critical in my work, but perhaps the first photo in the album is one of my favorites. It feels like the house has been photographed, but it’s an ancient gate, a sky and a piece of arch.
Any film projects or cameras/film you want to try out?
I mostly shoot in black and white, but I undertake to experiment with everything that can show the image. As a child, I indulged in pinhole, now I dream of a Polaroid SX-70 and a wagon of black and white and color cartridges. I also really want to make a movie on a 35 mm movie camera. I found a device, but I need a lot of film.