The gap between how foreigners view Russia and how Russians view themselves is wide and as old as the country itself.
Russian photographer Valeriy Klamm felt that foreign photojournalists who came to work in his country arrive with the pictures they want to send back home already in their head: Bleak images of a cold and desolate place where autocrats lord over drunks.
Klamm, himself, had never photographed much outside of his home city of Novosibirsk, where nearly 2 million people live on the banks of the Ob River in the middle of Siberia.
But in 2000, he started to visit these small towns, camera in hand. He began to ask his photographer friends, both foreign and local, to share images of simple life the rural Russian villages that dot the vast expanse from Europe to the Pacific Ocean.
And in 2009, Klamm started “Birthmarks on the Map,” a collective photo project and website that collects these images in one place.
Photo Credit: Fyodor Telkov, Yekaterinburg, Valeriy Klamm, Novosibirsk, Igor Lagunov, Magnitigorsk
"My mother died rather suddenly when I was eighteen. One thing that I didn’t expect was the amount of resentment I would feel. I know it’s not fair of me to put that sort of thing on other people. But when I see someone walking down the street with their mother, I feel jealous. I know their relationship is going to have its ups and downs, and it’s going to evolve, and it will have this trajectory to it that I’ll never have, and it just seems unfair. Of course I know it’s absurd to talk about fairness in the universe."
"Why is that absurd?"
"Because there’s no such thing as karma. I mean, when you’re a good person, people can sense it and they’ll reciprocate that goodness. But the universe isn’t keeping some balance by guaranteeing you a reward."
photo by Job Reid