FFO: INSPIRING HUMANITARIAN DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY USING IMAGERY TO CREATE A POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE WORLD!
Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Kristina Sergeeva (21) I was born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I am currently based in Leeds, United Kingdom, but I spend a lot of time in Dubai as well.
What’s it like being based between two different continents?
I love everything about it; there is so much contrast in the way of life, climate,
environment, the culture. I am always going back and forth; it is something that I enjoy doing. I feel that a lot of my inspiration comes from travelling and from being in these two very different environments.
What’s your experience been like living in Leeds? (West Yorkshire, UK) How does it compare to a place like Dubai?
It has been an amazing three years in Leeds, it was a bit of a culture shock at first but I was able to adjust quite quickly. One of the main aspects that I noticed almost straight away is that Leeds is a very culturally diverse place, much like Dubai is, so I feel that that made the transition a lot smoother.
How’ve you found the arts/photography in Leeds in comparison to Dubai’s?
To be honest, the creative scene is much better in the U.K in general. There are a lot more galleries which are accessible all year round. You’ve got the Impressions Gallery in Bradford and the Tetley in Leeds which are great for inspiration.
Leeds Arts University has provided many opportunities in terms of student competitions and exhibitions which I have been part of which benefits young creatives such as myself to get work exhibited. Studying in such a creatively diverse university has its benefits and I have been able to make a lot of friends from various courses. London too is a great place to be and it is somewhere I hope to be in the near future.
I would say Dubai’s focus is more on tourism, they have a number of art events such as Art Dubai and small little gallery exhibitions showcasing local artists work however it is little compared to the U.K. I have found that you really need to research the upcoming artsy events in Dubai as it isn’t really advertised as much. I feel that Dubai does have a lot of potential in improving its creative sphere as I know it has so much beautiful heritage, photography and art to offer.
What is your current photographic work about?
I currently have two major projects on the way. They focus on issues that surround women in different cultures. My first project titled ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’ explores how human beings in light of the difficulties brought to them by the environment, employ their creativity of weaving baskets to solve their problems one day at a time. This series reflects on the Eruption of Mount Agung in Bali Indonesia.
I am drawn to exploring issues which are rarely in the media’s spotlight, for me, as a photographer it is all about raising awareness for the people whose thoughts and problems are not highlighted in this world.
Another project I’ve worked on is based in Leeds and it focuses on the representation of Muslim women and the stereotypical image of the ‘Modern British Muslim girl’ and their daily lives. It is no secret that the representations made of Muslim women in the Western media are relatively negative. As the medias powerful influx of information is considered a reliable one, many believe what is conveyed. This project aims to help Muslim women get their voices out there and gives them a chance to tell their story, rather than it being told for them.
What got you interested in photography and taking images?
The idea of using photography to help others tell their stories.
When I was thirteen years old I received my first camera, from then I never stopped producing images whether they were in the form of selfies or of random objects. During sixth form I started to produce work that had more context behind it. I was particularly drawn to culture and telling other peoples stories through visuals. This has resulted in me being completely influenced by my own culture and other places that I have travelled to so far.
Is there anything in particular that draws your eye photographically?
I am generally quite interested in the human condition, their environment, their issues. I like to make my stories about the people themselves rather than it being about me, if the people within a community would like to collaborate with me and tell me about their lives that only makes me more determined to tell their story visually.
Who are you inspired by?
What inspires you directly about the photographers you’ve listed above?
Anything from the topics they explore to their photographic approaches to their
technical method. I generally get inspired when I read about the photographer’s
project and find a way to link it to my own practice, whether it involves adopting a similar technique or approach. For the current project, like Hornstra and the ‘Sochi project’ I have chosen to undertake a slow photojournalistic approach. Another example would be my use of camera flash with infrared triggers to manipulate the lighting within the frame, allowing it to really highlight my subjects within their isolated environments. This technique is inspired by Philip-Lorca DiCorcia‘s photographs.
What are your future aspirations?
To spend time on my current projects and develop them to their full potential, so that they have the ability to help those who need it. To work alongside an organisation which I will be able to produce work for.
What would be your dream career?
Hard question to answer, I suppose It would be to work for / with an organisation which would set me various assignments, and a career which will enable me to travel and cover various issues around the world. Whilst also being able to carry on developing my personal projects.
What advice would you recommend to young photographers today?
In terms of Documentary / Photojournalism photography my advice would be to find something, a topic, an issue that you are ready to commit to for a long time. Figure out how to capture this issue in a creative way – not too literally. Spend time in the community, get to know the people, talk to the people understand the topic you are exploring completely. The images will come after.