Russian beginners class…
My more than frequent trips to Eastern Europe, and in particular Ukraine has presented problems for me as a photographer. Not technical problems though, but problems engaging with my subjects. Many subjects who I have met only speak Russian and even with the use of a translator on hand, it seems impossible to achieve the intimacy required when attempting to document their stories.
Although, it is good to know that at least I am not alone in this. Nick Hannes wrote in his book ‘Red Journey’ that ‘Not being able to communicate in Russian hinders locating my preferred working areas: the vicinity of railway stations, city outskirts, industrial sites, urban development areas, busy intersections, parks, fairgrounds and beaches’. I knew exactly how he felt.
The only way to solve this was to enrol on a language course. Luckily for me, Warwick University (just a stones throw from where I live) run a Russian beginners class. Naturally, I enrolled and am now in my third week. It is going well and is something which I believe is essential if I am going to continue working in former countries of the Soviet Union.