Dean O'Brien's Blog

351mc Photography and Narrative: Final Task ‘A Life in the Day’

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Due to the nature of my project this is not something that can be presented as one final complete piece.  My project of looking into marriage agencies in Ukraine will cross many mediums including images, sound and transmedia.

Crowd sourced questions

Before flying out to Kiev to conduct my interviews I posted a question on Twitter asking people what they would like me to ask the subjects.  Rumena replied and I was able to ask this question to the subject directly during the recorded interview.

Due to the sensitivity nature of the project, questions from the outside cannot go directly to the subjects.  However, I act as the link between both parties so that the information does get shared.

Rumena has since contacted me after seeing my recent time lapse video, and has helped to make a fresh selection of images.  We are hoping to build a totally separate story with these images.


My subjects are made up up of men and women who are involved in various stages in the marriage industry.

Pete from Winchester – Married a Ukrainian woman and they lived in England.  Unfortunately, the marriage has now ended, Pete’s wife remains in the U.K and he is now back in Ukraine searching for a partner.

Eric: An American living in Norway – Eric is a professional looking at Ukraine for a suitable partner.  Eric trawls many Ukrainian dating sites arranging many dates.

Davie B:  A Trawlerman from Cleveland in the U.K.  Davie has signed up to quite a few dating sites and arranges to meet women for dates when he travels to Kiev.

Katya (40):  Katya lives and works in Kiev, Ukraine.  Katya is registered with a local marriage agency.  Katya is my main subject who I am working with at present.

Natasha (31):  Natasha is a student living and working in Kiev, Ukraine.  She is registered with two marriage agencies and was recently dating a guy from Germany.

Subject involvement 

I am planning to get my subjects to submit some of their own personal images to help give a deeper insight into their background and add some depth to their story.

Information Sources

Kiev Post:  I subscribe to this paper and have the hard copy mailed to me here in the U.K every week.  It helps to keep me in touch with what is happening in KIev and the rest of Ukraine.  It is produced by a team of western and Ukrainian journalists. I have applied to intern here whilst doing my project in KIev, as I feel that this could be a great benefit to me.

Russia Today (RT News) Channel (Sky 512):  I watch news reports from this news channel every day.  It keeps me up to date with changes happening in Ukraine

Expat UA Forum:  I joined an internet  forum for ex-pats living in Ukraine.  This was so that I could make contact with people already living out there, asking them to share their experiences.  I placed two different posts on the website and arranged to meet a few people out there

Website page:  I have decided to add a page to my website, dedicated specifically to this project so that  subjects can contact me with their stories etc..On this page I have also added my Ukrainian mobile phone number so that I can be contacted when working in Ukraine.  The web page is at its early stages and is only a starting point for subjects to make contact.  This is hosted on my own photography website but this project may eventually need a complete site of its own.  It is located Here

Business cards:  I have decided to have some ‘project specific’ business cards designed.  The reason being, that when I meet subjects in Ukraine, I want them to have both my U.K and Ukrainian mobile numbers.  This makes contact a lot easier for my subjects, especially for those who I may have met in Ukraine and then they return to the U.K and decide to make contact.  It helps to give the project a proper professional feel.

Branding:  The project needs a name rather than just being called ‘Project Ukraine’.  That name is too open and does not give any clue as to the nature of the project.  It is not of any great urgency at this time but it is something which I am thinking about.

Going direct to the source:

This project is not just about marriage as such.  I have started to look into the reasons behind why people want to leave Ukraine.  It is not just about women wanting a U.K passport as many may believe, but about the chance of a better life.  When Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 people celebrated and thought that change was coming.  The change never came for the majority.

The recent jailing of  former President Yulia Tymoshenko has put the Ukraine back light years from joining Europe.  To say that the jailing of a political opponent is wrong would be an understatement, but that is what has just happened.  Until Ukraine decide to clean up its act then what hope do the ‘normal people’ have?  It is a well know fact that the mafia still play a massive role in every day life.  Of course. the knock-on effect is that the agencies grow as more and more women have a desire to leave the country.


At some point I will need to go back to Ukraine but this time hopefully for a month.  The main problem will be funding.  I’m looking into crowd funding options at the moment from people such as CrowdfunderKickstarter and  Its possible that I will create a photfilm aimed specifically at funding my project.

List of References:

Hannes, Nick (2009) Red Journey, Belgium: Lannoo

Herder, Scott Den (2011) Bottoming Out, [online] available from <> [30 October 2011]

Ludwig, Gerd (2001) Broken Empire, Italy: National Geographic

Magnum (2009) Georgian Spring: A Magnum Journal, London: Chris Boot

Marino, Maria (2011) ‘Grozny: Nine Cities’ [online] available from <> [24 November 2011]

Mcluhan, Marshal (2008) The Medium is the Massage, London: Penguin

Mikhailov, Boris (1999) Case History, Germany: Scalo

Mikhailov, Boris (2011) Tea Coffee Cappuccino, Germany: Walther Konig

Roberts, Simon (2007) Motherland, London: Chris Boot

Russia Today (2011) Cheat Happens: Senate hopeful in US – hobo in Ukraine’ [online] available from <> [27 November 2011]

Smyth, D. (2011) ‘Anastasia Taylor-Lind’s Cossack Revival’. British Journal of Photography    [online] available from <> [22 October 2011]

ukrainianreport (2011) Ukraine. A Banana Republic Forever?! [online] available from <> [4 December 2011]


Written by Dean O'Brien

November 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm

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