On the Road to Success: Life coaches’ Advice Seen by a Samara Photographer
A Google Search of “how to become successful” produces 15 million hits in Russian and more than a billion – in English. Psychologists, bloggers, coaches, and former politicians tell people exactly how to achieve ‘success’.
Samara-based photographer Pavel Dokuchaev accepted the challenge and put the life hacks of “buffed -up men in expensive suits” in practice. Every Internet life hack showing how one can reach “inevitable success” is illustrated by an image where it is made to match the Russian reality.
Lives in Samara. Studies at the Project Photography School based in Viktoria Contemporary Art Gallery.
— I am a mechanical engineer, I took up photography a year and two months ago. I didn’t switch occupations — mechanical engineering remains what I do five days a week. At the same time, I am engaged in photography: on my way to work I might Google some interesting topics which I later discuss in a bar with my friends and analyze before falling asleep.
There is a successful person cult. Imagine: you are an ordinary engineer working at a plant. In the evening, you check your social network page and come across an ad asking you, “Would you like to change your life? I am going to help you become successful!” And there you are – just a second later you find yourself watching photos of a buffed-up man in an expensive suit, his red sports car, his house in the suburbs, and his beautiful girlfriends. Then you turn on the TV to discover a wise female host advising, “This woman definitely needs a successful young man, an ordinary guy is not her variety.” At dinner your mom tells you about her friend’s son who “made it” and went to Thailand on holiday. Thus, the question about your own success pops up on its own – what about me? am I successful? “A man from this online ad and a woman from that TV show would be a perfect match,” I sum up before falling asleep. My morning shift at the plant starts at 6 am.
This story is a rough generalization, but anyone comes across similar things everywhere. We are constantly reminded of “success”, its distorted understanding is imposed on us — including the inadequate visual representation — and it is these things that drove me to work on this topic. Having examined dozens of success-related websites, I came up with ten life hacks most often mentioned as those which will supposedly make you successful when you follow them.
And here you are – just a second later you find yourself watching photos of a buffed-up man in an expensive suit.
I really enjoyed working on this project. It was truly fun. I remember myself cycling across the city to take a photograph with a cheburek. It was hot and I did look weird: a suit, patent leather shoes, my pants tucked into my socks to avoid getting caught in the bicycle chain, a backpack with a tripod. People turned their heads, I smiled back at them — thinking that instead of a successful man they were probably seeing another city madman in me.
After taking pictures of myself with a cheburek, I realized it was getting hotter and hotter and I decided to go back home. But my inner voice said I should stop by the park on the way home. And it was already there while cycling past a shooting range I heard a girl who was working there shouting at me, “Hey you – a young man in a suit! Why don’t you try shooting!” So, there I was, shooting – as one of the success life hacks was saying “accept any offer.”
When I was doing research, I came across statistics that said most Russians defined a sucсessful person as someone well-off. But was it really so? I don’t see anything wrong in one’s desire to have a lot of money, but I approach money as a resource, first of all. In my opinion, financial well-being is very indirectly connected with the idea of success, if at all. It’s like in Karen Shakhnazarov’s movie “Courier” where the protagonist discovers that his friend dreams of a coat and gives him his, suggesting that he “should dream of something big.”
As for me, I have adopted a succinct definition of success from Ozhegov’s Dictionary. It says that “success is an ability to achieve something.” And this “something” turns out to be the most important thing, individual for everyone. And hardly anyone has the right to impose it.
Russian and English interview text: Olga Bubich