Photography. “About New York and Beyond”

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Vladimir Badikov is a photographer, cameraman, winner of the XII Open International Journalistic Competition “Silver Plume 2013” in the nomination “Best Photo of the Year”. His works were showcased in two photo exhibitions at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art in 2013 and 2014, which were the starting events of the “Life as a Journey” art project. In 2015 he participated in the “Expressions” art exhibition held in New York City. In February and March of  2016, Vladimir’s solo photo exhibits “About New York and Beyond” were presented at Evans Real Estate (also in New York).

Photos by Vladimir Badikov present various styles and genres, and they express very different moods and motives. Some of them are quite romantic, with a diverse range of overtones this genre suggests, others  are reflections of the dynamic moments of someone’s life. One may find in Vladimir’s pictures the sincere surprise about some sudden scenes, which are destined to be kept in a photograph forever, or simply  the intention to share the artist’ interpretation of some possibly very familiar pictures and images.

 

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– You have visited more than 50 countries around the world; Germany and Venezuela, India and  Svalbard,  Chukotka and Tibet are only some of  the places you have been to. But New York City was the dominant theme of most of your exhibitions. This is really a very amazing city, and there is no way to be sure you got to know it completely. It’s an endless city both in terms of its perception and emotional reflection. And you shoot it the way that even the person who has never been to New York, can fall in love with the city just watching your photos. What does New York mean for you?

IMG_4208 copy– It’s not complicated for me; I’ve been living and working here for several years, and I just shoot what I see around me. There are only two options: either you fall in love with the city from the first glance and forever or you just don’t like it – and that’s it. It is a very dynamic city, and even the weather is changing very rapidly and drastically because of the proximity of the ocean. There is a lot of sunshine in the city, and that’s fine, but you  may also experience significant snowfalls, rainstorms and hurricanes while in New York. Various parts of the city are very different: for instance, Soho, Midtown, Harlem, and the Financial district are very unique ones. And the mood is determined by so many factors: how you felt leaving the house, what kind of music you’ve chosen as a traveling companion, and where you are heading to. What I feel is very important for me is  the fact that photography is not my occupational assignment during working hours, it’s a hobby, passion – with no obligations and commitments to anyone. It’s just like a hunting instinct to notice and catch some truly interesting things. It’s very likely to have a quite long walk with nothing to shoot, or, in contrast, you may make twenty great photos for a very short time. There is no way to predict it.

 

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– For many people, particularly tourists, the word “New York” means Manhattan. What about you? Which places outside the island boundaries are interesting to you because of whatever reasons?

IMG_3434 copy– Yes, that’s right, many people identify the name “New York” with Manhattan. This is not true.  And the city’s “picture”,  its fabric, is very different in various city neighborhoods. For instance, let’s talk about Williamsburg. During a very short walk you may find two completely different, yet parallel worlds; there are hipsters to the left of the Williamsburg Bridge, and there are Orthodox Jews to the right. And there are scores of such places, which are like patchwork, in New York, and that is what New York is about. In fact, the motto of this city may be the expression «I do not care» –  in positive context, surely.

 

– A lot has been said about an extraordinary energy of this city. In your opinion, what causes it? Have you ever been to places  with a similar spirit and atmosphere?

– I believe the city energy is twofold. It’s a combination of the city spirit and human perception. It’s true that in New York you really feel different from anywhere else. It is not like in any other city I happened to have been to.

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– Has your perception of the city been changing over time? What did impress you most at the beginning of your life here?

DSC04885– In 1997 I came to the  city for the very first time, and I was shooting the documentary about the “Treasures of the Romanov’s family” exhibition. And I was so stunned by everything around me:  the scale of the city, its noise, the speed, the crowds,  that I rushed to a store to buy a video camera to shoot (spending almost all my travel expenses).  I just didn’t want to carry the huge Betacam the entire way. Nobody at that moment knew that I would happen to live and work in New York for a long time. The city still amazes and excites me. So I think that my perception of the city has not changed, although the city itself is constantly changing, and it’s happening quite quickly. I still like to photograph its scenes.

 

– Cities are like people: some are opened immediately to someone, others require time and attention to be understood and known. What do you think of New York from this point of view?

– You know, sometimes some sort of confusion may happen, when you come somewhere and wake up in the morning, and the first question that comes to your mind is “Oh, where am I?”  So, when you wake up here, there is a feeling that you were born and raised here and that you know every single corner.  I do not know why I have this feeling, but that’s true. But, of course, New York requires time, the willingness to peer into it and the readiness to embrace it.

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– What would be your advice to those who are coming to this city for the first time? Definitely everyone will open their own New York. While, however, the impression of the same person may vary, depending on a person’s her current mood, readiness to comprehend the world around,  and  the consistency of internal attitude and external signals.

– It is quite difficult to give any advice, but I’ll try. It seems to me that it requires at least a week to start understanding what kind of city this is. Although, once again, there are people who do not accept the concept of the city at first encounter; they think it’s too noisy, too dirty and so on. I would advise to settle in a small apartment and to plan walking routes in advance. Manhattan is right city for walking, and public transit is quite effective, although there can be some service disruptions, particularly on weekends. I wouldn’t advise to rent a car, particularly if you stay in Manhattan. The number of problems including those with  parking will outweigh the “pros”.

And I know this subject very well, as my wife Natalia Panushkina created the paper guide for the “Around the World” publishing house a few years ago. New technologies have come into existence since that time, and her knowledge of the city has been extremely useful for the Urban Walks mobile application. It is a very convenient and informative app, moreover, it does not require the Internet. Our daughter Daria has also been engaged in the project, and I know the application suggests the best routes which are both very interesting and time-effective. New York is huge – it is like a planet, and there is no way to determine how much time someone needs to explore it, but it is a pleasure to study and get to know it. This city worth exploring, and you need to gain some information about it before coming, and then you will discover your own  city and will return here again and again. And besides there is such a variety of food, festivals, concerts, and exhibitions in New York; there is everything one may imagine, you just need to be curious and attentive.

 

IMG_8822 copy– It is obvious  for everyone who knows you and  your works  that you have an extraordinary ability to notice some interesting things even in a routine environment. The true amazement “How  did you notice that?!” is  a everlasting leitmotif of most comments on your photos . The ability to see some stunning things somewhere where dozens of other people are passing by without any discoveries and emotions is really a rare talent. Is it possible to teach another person this skill? And, by the way, how do you feel about teaching? Do you think you will be willing to start that at some point? I’m sure many people who like your creativity may be interested in that.

– I would not apply the word ” extraordinary”  toward this ability. I am sure, it’s not difficult, one just needs to develop the ability. As a matter of fact there are two ways to get an interesting picture: either you see some preconditions for it and then  wait for a suitable situation to catch the moment  or if you notice something you should shoot it immediately, and in this case it would be the matter of luck, I wouldn’t undervalue this.

I’m not sure I’m ready to be involved in tutoring, though many individuals are doing that.  But I am  not considering teaching – I’m still studying some things myself. Some basic things, like theory, exist, and one may study them himself. The next step to do is just shooting and constantly being in work and progress.  In fact, so many things have been already pictured by people earlier, before us, like photos of some famous places and landscapes. So the task is to perform it the way nobody has done before.

 

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– You often say that photography  is rather your hobby  than a profession, although your first degree is exactly in photography. So you are both a professional and “amateur” photographer.    Everything is changing, and new tools and techniques are being developed constantly and very fast. Do you think photo shooting requires constant self-education in order to catch up with a variety of modern techniques?

– I think going forward and advancing his or her skills is very important for anyone – whether in terms of creativity or some technical issues.   It’s particularly very important for those who are professional photographers. I take it easier, I would say I don’t follow the emergence of new technologies and equipment too closely. Yes, probably, the new tools help, but for me it’s more important how to shoot rather than what to use for that. As we know the magic button “masterpiece” does not exist, and I would not distinguish equipment as professional or amateur one. It is important to use equipment that you have at the moment to its fullest capacity.

 

фотография(28)– The classic question: who are your favorite and the most respected names in the art of photography?

– There are many of them, it would be really a long list. Talking about  wartime photo reporting  I would name Robert Capa; I like Yuri Kozyrev as a modern warfare photographer.

I am fond of Josef Koudelka and René Maltête. Vivian Maier’s  is a completely incredible story. Having been a governess she wasn’t credited as a photographer during her life. She became famous only after her death, just recently. She had absolutely stunning photos. When it comes to our contemporary artists I would name Sergei Maximishin and Dmitry Zverev, but as I said  this list goes on and on.

 

– What projects would you be interested in participating in – in terms of their genre, topic, geographical area?

– The basic criteria are the following: it should be interesting and allow me some certain freedom of creativity, not limited by strict rules. Reportage photography is definitely my favorite genre. I like to picture life in all its manifestations, the real life. Staged photography is not my choice; in my opinion it’s easier to notice something worth of shooting rather than to stage a scene. Actually one may set any scene he can imagine, but that’s completely different story, it doesn’t work for me.

Talking about my dreams, I recall watching  “The Undersea World of Jacques”  on TV  when I was a kid and wanting I wanted to participate in some adventure which should be  a journey into the unknown corners of the planet, a place which very few people had ever visited. But since the photography has been a hobby, this still has to be brought to life so far.

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