Konstantin Chalabov’s 10 Favourite Photos
Bird in Flight asked Konstantin Chalabov from Veliky Novgorod to choose his ten favorite photographs and tell us about each of them.
There are not too many photographs I really like. I think that when you look at the photograph and you want to hang it on the wall, it means you’ve achieved what you wanted with it. I have only about two photographs like this, they are among the others listed below.
Barcelona in Red, September 2015.
A holiday in Barcelona. Film Konica T4 and big changes in life. Just an evening walk around this beautiful city, a red umbrella and a red street light, a man in a suit jacket on the corner as if he is from a novel, and all of this gets documented on film. When I discover it only after a month, I fall in love with this photo and hang it on the wall. It still reminds me of one of the most important months in my life.
Silence, Nizza, France, August 2011.
Nizza, a holiday destination, many people, a crowded esplanade and endless streams of people looking for entertainment. I was walking along the esplanade like everyone else and was part of this beehive, when suddenly I saw a man in a suit jacket who was just sitting and looking into the horizon. He was very calm, and a metal frame separated the bustle and the serenity.
A Seagull in the Sky Above Solovetsky Islands, August 2013.
It was a time of changes that had me think about my life as much as I had done never before. We were traveling from the port of Kem to Solovetsky Islands, and I had a lot of questions in my head about religion, nature, the meaning of life. A lot has happened on the island: that night near the Solovetsky monastery, bus drivers who part-time there during the tourist season gave me a black eye; I fell behind my group as I didn’t want to walk around with them, and I spent the night on Anzer island, where I met a hermit from Arkhangelsk who lives on the shore of the White Sea and volunteers at the monastery. I spent time among the ruins in the morning and watched a big eagle hover over Petrovskaya Gorka, and felt no geographical connection to any country. I even managed to receive no forgiveness from the reverend father who is responsible for press on Solovetsky islands and heard weird things from a monk. This photograph reflects my lightness and my calmness after everything that had happened.
A Flight. Kazan, August 2015.
A sportsman during his high diving workout at the FINA World championships. During the Championships I photographed water polo every day while I simultaneously watched how these courageous people in high diving jump off a 27-meter high-board on TV and admired their courage. I really wanted to see it all live and capture a ‘small man’ in the big sky.
A Man in the Fog. Veliky Novgorod, November 2014.
Those were several very foggy months in Novgorod – it has never happened before, or maybe I just haven’t paid attention, but anyway every time as soon as I saw fog from the window, I grabbed my camera and went for a walk. As usual, I was walking towards the park, past the place that I have seen a million times before, and suddenly I noticed the silhouettes of the trees that I have never noticed earlier. This was not the Kreml Park I knew anymore, but some kind of a foggy forest, and this was when I thought “I wish an interesting character would pass by”. Then suddenly I saw a man in a hat, and everything that I played in my imagination materialized in a photograph – that was cool.
A Woman with a Flower, 2015.
Old Baku, these narrow streets, small inner yards and old houses that are ruined enough to be listed for demolition. You can spend the whole day there and walk into every yard, everywhere you’d be treated with tea and Azerbaijani delicacies. I walked into one yard and saw a woman who in the middle of all this ruined rubbish and broken windows was tending her beautiful flower.
A Young Woman in Red, August 2014.
It was such a cloudy day in our city of Novgorod, and not only fog, but the sky, too, can be so beautiful it sends shivers down your spine. I generally love everything related to the elements. So, when I saw a sky like this I thought: “Should I run to the 12th floor to my friend’s place and shoot everything from above, or should I go for the usual and foolproof option, Kreml Park?”. I traveled and ran very fast, not to miss the storm front. I got to the pedestrian bridge and waited for a suitable character to turn up.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations Employee Is Extinguishing Fire on the Grass.
Fire can be beautiful. To be honest, I don’t like it when something is on fire, when someone suffers from the fire, but it happens that sunlight, wind, smoke and flames do everything for the fire to be beautiful. In that case the grass on fire was not far from dacha houses, and the fire was getting close to them, so the firemen were doing everything they could to stop it. I saw one of these guys, who in the middle of the smoke and fire looked like an epic hero.
Praskovia Kozlova and Her Flowers, March 2013.
This is the photograph from my exhibition project, Period of Final Days. The woman in this photograph is 101 years old, and in her whole life she loved only once. She loved her husband, who never came back from the war, and she has lived alone ever since. It somehow seemed to me that she was very kind. I was told she loved to sing and sang when she could, but apparently she was too shy to do it in my presence. All in all, in my eyes she was a radiant woman.
Airborne Forces in Pskov oblast, June 2010.
Two-day business trip to Pskov. I didn’t travel much then, and I was glad about any business trip. The shoot was not very exciting, it was for a new ACV or something, and then on day two I had to shoot an airborne forces division, how they jump with parachutes. The first day went as usual, we shot everything we needed, I wouldn’t say it was interesting. The morning of the second day was difficult: I barely woke up and was almost late for my bus, I had a terrible headache. We had a long trip somewhere out of Pskov, and falling asleep and missing my bed, I suddenly saw a lupine field from the window, “lilac on Mars”, and I thought that if the soldiers were landing on this field, I would be the happiest man in the world. This was exactly what happened: all of them were landing on this lilac flower pillow. I forgot about my headache, and I was just running around, shooting and being happy. At that point I thought the army was something magical and kind.