Dennis Baburov

Ivanovo, Russia
Hi, Dennis. Tell something funny about yourself for the beginning.

I photograph stuff before I get rid of it.

You have written that photography is your love and passion. When were you interested in photography, and how did it deepen into projects-researches?

I started photographing relatively later – my first point-and-shoot camera appeared when I was 22 years old. I hadn’t photographed before. Then I got Gear Acquisition Syndrome – I bought reflex camera, then I got renewed to full frame and bough 3 prime lenses, but after 3 years I sold it all. I test myself in different genres simultaneously: portrait, marriage, fashion. I liked and disliked it at the same time. Then I understood that what I liked in all the genres was diving into people’s private life, research process. The photography has opened doors and become a human cognition tool.

From series “Great Volga”. Dubna railway station

We know that you are a marketing specialist and you have written that photography is source of additional income. How do you manage to earn money with photography?

Since I stopped photographing marriages flow of income had sharply reduced.  Though it brings income meanwhile.

What does photography mean for you?

On the one hand it is a way to study universe and people; on the other hand it is reflection and meditation. 

From series “Great Volga”. Plyos town.

Do you have any reference points in art that admire and inspire you?

From the photographers: Lee Friedlander, Georgy Pinhasov, Rafal Milach, and Stephen Shore. From the fine art – impressionists. I feel especial love to Edward Hopper’s works.

Why candid shot?

A camera gives you access to human’s private life – it charms and scares sometimes. When you say that you are a photographer, they let you – a stranger – come in the house, and tell the stories of their lives.  

How do the thought about series appear? 

To tell a story one picture is not enough. Series on its own appear from observation of universe, events, people, and common reflection.  Almost all the series ideas were born when I hadn’t even thought about photography.  The trick is to be in time for writing the idea. There are about 50 ideas in my smartphone now.

Do you have favorite picture?

It is difficult with pictures – photographers like one that was the most difficult. It is not the best picture in respect to composition and story often. It is difficult to compete with such a prejudice. I am used to putting pictures aside and allow them time. I don’t watch them at least for a week after the shooting (film is better in this context). When emotions calmed down you began to watch and select – chances are high that you will like the very picture.

From series “Great Volga”. Plyos town.

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“Great Volga” is a research of the great Russian river that was poetized in Russian epic and fairy-tales, in canvasses by Levitan and Repin, in plays by Ostrovsky and Gorky, the river that fed shopping arcade and brought up Russian people, generation after generation.
What is the Volga today? What is specific about the people that live around? What is the river’s future? These are the questions I try to answer.  
I photographed in the towns founded on the Volga: Plyos, Volgograd, Saratov, Sviyazhsk, Kalyazin, and Dubna – towns with rich history that have changed beyond recognition and have transformed the river conjointly.  The first one is a special economic zone without a mooring, the second one is a touristic stall, and the third one is shopping arcade for metropolitans. These photographs contain the story of the Volga River, the story it has told.


From series “Great Volga”. Moldavian worker. Plyos town.

Did you plan the series for a long time? How long was your expedition?

The idea was born in Yekaterinburg where I was with the visit to the local photo-club. We watched a documentary about Alec Sot and began discussing – heated debate was raised in course like “He is an attaboy! He travels, photographs different America. And where are such Russians? They just photographed marriages and girls in studios”. I didn’t participate in debate, but I thought that I should carry it out. The series were made occasionally from Ivanovo to the nearest towns. I spent one day in Plyos, Dubna, Kalyazin, and in Nizhny Novgorod Area. Once I took 5-day vacation and went down stream on the motor ship “Boris Polevoy” from Samara to Volgograd with a stop in Saratov. 

How did you manage to put it into practice? Where did you stay? Or you planned your route so that you can spend an hour in one city and then move further?

On my own (without travel agency). I have travelled long since, and for me it is not a problem. I began with Google query “cities on the Volga”, then I read descriptions at Wikipedia, watched pictures in Google or Flickr – I decided if it was worth visiting. Then I tried to connect with the inhabitants who could advise what to photograph or could become characters of shooting. I searched them through couchsurfing. Unfortunately the audience was not very active – just one from 15 appeals.

From series “Great Volga”. Victory day in Volgograd.

From series “Great Volga”. Plyos town, embankment.

From series “Great Volga”. Monument to World War the Second in Saratov.

What was people’s reaction?

There only two photographs from the series that are posed. I met an elderly lady with a basin and ask for a photograph. I spent hour and a half with Ivan -   Moldavian worker – he told me about his life, how he lived in Italy and then moved to Russia for job.

Is there a moment that especially remained in your memory?

That entire trip is something incredible and timeless. All that ship passengers are small community, small nation inside of the great country, I haven’t met anyone similar in everyday life. I do advise to try it at least once.

From series “Great Volga”. Bathing day in Plyos town.

From series “Great Volga”. Balakhna.

From series “Great Volga”. The Volga River.

What is especially important for you in this project?

It is important to save today’s image of the Volga, to embrace as much as possible traits, so everybody could see something one’s special.

Did you remark interest to everything one might say post-soviet? What is it related with?

I think there are few reasons. First of all everything post-soviet disappears, ruins with incredible speed. Desire for saving is quite sensible. Secondly the new generation of photographers have grown up and started working; they were born in Russia, not in the USSR. They have not attended demonstration, never stayed in lines – they have their own vision and attitude to everything soviet. It seems to be alien and hardly comprehendible to them. Photo projects with post-soviet theme help them to understand what country it was, what it lived by, why it failed, and what have rested from it today.

What are your plans for future?

To continue photographing the Volga –  mouth, source. I want to develop ethnographic part of the project.

See more:


Фото из серии: "Большая Волга". Дача Дмитрия Медведева, Плёс.

Фото из серии: "Большая Волга". Круиз по Волге.

Фото из серии: "Большая Волга".  Остров Свияжск.

Фото из серии: "Большая Волга". Рыбак, Балахна.

Фото из серии: "Большая Волга". Кузнец на осторове Свияжск, сувенирный магазин.

Фото из серии: "Большая Волга". День победы. Волгоград.


Фото из серии: "Большая Волга". Затопленная колокольня, Калязин.

Фото из серии: "Большая Волга". Экскурсионные автобусы,  осторов Свияжск.

Фото из серии: "Большая Волга". Последний паром уходит на остров Свияжск.

Фото из серии: "Большая Волга". Свияжск.