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Kristina Sergeeva

St. Petersburg, Russia

Kristina Sergeeva is a 28 year old photographer from St.Petersburg, Russia. She is  currently shooting several projects about her country, creating a photo book and zines. Kristina also teaches photography to beginning photographers and organizes the self-publishing festival Nizina Fest.


What is photography to you and how did you get started with it?

Photography for me is an opportunity to share my thoughts and vision of the world, to do research about what I am interested in. I started photography in high school, it was my way of sublimation. I would go to the woods and take pictures of dreary landscapes, and then I would print the photos in a copy center and glue them into my diaries. By pure chance, 5 years later I went to study at Fotografika Academy in St. Petersburg - it's a private school of contemporary photography. Unfortunately, in Russia there is no proper education in this field. I studied there for two years and worked there for three more years afterwards. Photography became my whole life.

What impact do you think your childhood has on your photography?


I think it has a very big influence. Unfortunately, I don't consider my childhood a happy one. I was always surrounded by alcohol, my parents quarreling, I was a lonely child. Photography at school became my guide to the world of art, and creativity has been a way of escapism for me for a long time. None of my family members understand what I do, but they are glad I took a different path. Recently I realized that perhaps the melancholy moods of my photographs are closely related to the black and white view of the world that I inherited from childhood.


Please tell us about your process and vision?

Photography for me is an intimate process. I don't like taking photos when I'm in companies, I need to be alone or with like minded photographers. In the process, I am used to giving myself completely to inspiration until I get exhausted. I love new places where there are no people, lots of free space and silence. Now I've changed my focus to constructing images, it's a different process, more fun. But going adrift with a camera is still my favorite, irreplaceable process. I love to read into the details, to find what reflects my thoughts at the moment. I usually know what I want to photograph, what location or detail. I love working with maps and exploring the terrain. I frame reality into its constituent parts, thus formulating my statement. The house is wooden, reflecting the traditions of Russian folklore. The context imposes a double message, that the present of my country is covered by harsh actions on the part of the authorities. And such a context devalues this traditionalism. That's why I make a highlighted shot, spared of the details. Context is always very important to me; what it depicts, where it was taken and at what time.

What challenges do you face as an artist? How do you overcome low periods of motivation or creative ruts?


The main difficulty I faced was always fear of the result. I was worried that I was always going in the wrong direction, creating wrong frames that didn't fit the subject matter. But then I realized that I had driven myself into too rigid boundaries, and sometimes you can relax. I now separate myself as a freelance artist and as an artist making an effort to create a thoughtful series. I believe that the unconscious perception of the world is just as good in an intuitive way of creating a frame as if you come up with a shot in advance.

After February 24, everything changed in me. I used to doubt myself and what I was doing, and I often found myself devaluing myself. As soon as these terrible events happened, I realized that I had to do something. I don't know what the future holds, I have a lot of fear, I don't know what will happen in a month. So I'm doing it while it's being done. Also anger is great fuel for action.


What inspires you the most?

I am most inspired by music. I really like genres like ambient, drone, psychedelic rock, post-rock. I listen to something all the time and it stimulates me to create. Also I can't live without traveling. Even if it's a trip 50 kilometers away from the city, my value is to see and feel new things.

What gears do you generally use? What is your ideal piece of gear and why?


What gears do you generally use? What is your ideal piece of gear and why?

For five years I have been shooting with the simplest camera, the Canon 600D. Now, that's not enough for me anymore, so I bought a Canon 6D. I guess I don't really know enough about technical specifications to talk about it. It doesn't really matter to me what to shoot with, but I've tried more expensive cameras. Haven't made friends with them yet :) A reflex camera reminds me of my first film camera, that's probably why I chose it. Film is very expensive in Russia now, and I've completely stopped shooting with a film camera.

Tell us about a photo you’re proud of.

Oh, it's hard for me to rate my photos that way. I guess I'm proud of the ones that turned out as I saw them or even better. One day in the summer of 2022, we went with a friend to a Soviet abandoned pillbox and there was a spot with puddles in it. I have a toy laser that simulates stars, and I asked my friend to point that laser at the puddle. The resulting photo I called lake of stars. A lot of people were interested in what it showed and how it came to be.


How would you define photographic success?

In my opinion, success is measured by the sincerity of the photographer and the depth of his thoughts. Real success, in my opinion, does not come to imposters. I believe one should do things based only on one's values. And access to success and victories is secondary. I separate the positions of photographer and art manager. You need to be able to be both. Then, probably, something will work out. The main thing is to do it.

Any new projects that you are working on currently? What does the future in photography  look like for you? 

I am currently working on three projects in parallel: making a photo book about the influence of the Soviet Union on Russia's modern identity, starting a new project about the theater of cruelty in my country and forming a visual diary about the last two years of my life.

I think the future of photography will open up more different methods of creating it, expanding its possibilities. I don't separate photography from other media in contemporary art. I am interested in observing photographers who are actively developing new technologies in photography, AI, digital art and other practices. I am also interested in seeing how photography responds to world issues, how it contributes to open dialog in society.

Image copyrights © Kristina Sergeeva

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