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Underneath Russian Hats: A Photographer's Journey

Солнышко "Sun"

What you are about to read is a much abridged autobiography of a Russian photographer, Igor Kliminov ( aka - IK, Kip-Garik). In a tangible way, the story is both a typical and extraordinary snapshot of a really interesting artist. It is a window into the diversity of endeavor that so often leads to extraordinary art. The story is also in keeping with Our Russia's mission, to reveal the heart and soul of this beautiful country through the camera lens.

Here is the abridged story of a man who has worn many hats, and of one who loves photographing other people’s guises too. It’s my pleasure to introduce Igor (IK).

You wanted to know about my life. Well it has been one full of avocations, interests, and occupations too. As I remember back to 1960, I began playing football on the "Luch" team, later graduation from the so-called "Torpedo" football school (Football School of Youth). This led to me becoming what's known as a "Master of Sports in Football". This distinction was natural for those playing on the Russian Presidential Administration football team. During my professional football career, I also attended and later graduated from the F. E. Dzerzhinsky (academy of strategic rocket forces) Military Academy.  It was at the academy that I earned a PhD, and later became an associate professor.

On St. Nicholas...
On St. Nicholas...

All along my photography hobby was something I developed too. I remember my very first camera, a "Smena 8M" I bought myself back in 1976. I recall this very popular model in the Soviet Union, having easy maintenance and simple utility. This made the model very popular with amateur photographers even to this day. While I was an avid fan of photography back then, schedules dissallowed my becoming a prolific photographer. It was not until 2010, after my football career, that I delved into the field more fervently.

A wonderful capture Igor calls simply Blonde hair
A wonderful capture Igor calls simply Blonde hair - no hat required in this case

Even though the film medium was better suited to my interests, today my photos are digital, but I do still practice analog photography. As for the genre, I enjoy mostly street photography, which inspires me because of the possibilities. Moscow, with its diverse streets, prospects, squares, festivals, markets, and concerts is the ideal place to capture the unusual, the beautiful. It is here I find myself searching to capture people's emotions; those brooding eyes, provocative looks, angry brows, and so on.  (for examples brooding eyes, a provocative look or angry brow) and activities, that shows their occupations, street scenes.

What hat is she wearing? A Moscow resident on a train
What hat is she wearing? A Moscow resident on a train

As to me expertise, I am asked many times what makes a fine photographer. I answer always, "To my mind the good photographer should be quipped with foresight, to feel the moment, ready to capture people's emotions". My preference for black-and-white reveals too, my interest in light and shadow, and the crucial element of simplicity. Here the photographic artist can best freeze in motion a person's character or essence precisely. My affection for B&W comes from the influence of the old-school geniuses like Swiss photographer Michel Comte, and other masters of black-and-white portraits.