Natalia Gordeeva is a 32-year-old photographer living and working in St. Petersburg, Russia. As a student of photography, she attends courses on creating photo projects, takes part in master classes of Russian and foreign photographers, and reads literature on photography. She’s on her way to discover her own language.
About : As a child growing up in a poor family in a small town in the south of Russia I knew nothing about photography. All my parents expected me to do was to study perfectly to enter the local university. I was fond of foreign languages, taught English and French and dreamed of being an interpreter and traveling the world. Being a student I studied international affairs, but soon switched to political science. Then I worked in public relations for about 10 years. Now I work with a non-profit organisation that is involved in cancer prevention.
The first film camera appeared in the house only when I was 13. But the passion came to me much later – it all started with simple pictures for Instagram. I just took pictures of what looked beautiful to me. Eventually, I realized that making pictures gave me real pleasure. I could wander for hours and take pictures, completely submerged, and did not follow the time. Then I realized I wanted to know more about photography and to understand why and what I was shooting. Finally, a year ago I started my study. And together with the photography the world of art, cinema and music opened in a new way.
Statement : I explore my attitude to the reality through photography. Photography has become for me the key to self-knowledge, a perfect tool that brings me closer to insights of being, and most importantly, to find peace within myself. The process of meditation and conversing with the subconscious. With every photo taken, my excitement grows and I want to know more. I was not able to express my feelings – photography gave me this opportunity. I concentrate on my inner state and try to catch these sensations in space. These feelings, reinforced by metaphors and hints, become the basis of my story.
My methods are simple. I make a selection of location, find information about the place I find inspiring, look at the photos of the terrain and try to understand whether I’ll find there what I’m looking for. And then I go and shoot everything that responds to my soul. Often I have to climb into abandoned places: abandoned houses, children’s camps, factories, go to the forest. Therefore, waterproof shoes and a worm jacket are very helpful.
My modest equipment is a Nikon 3100 camera with a 35mm lens and iPhone 5s with two extra batteries and a memory card. Sometimes I take a tripod with me.
Projects : At present I work on the project ‘Sanctuary’. Actually it is my graduation project – I started to shoot it half a year ago in the frame of a modern photography course. The project is now in progress, I still need a lot to comprehend to build the narrative. In this work I try with the help of symbols and metaphors to convey my inner substance, embodying it into the image of a mysterious place. I invite the viewers to join me there or think of one’s own perfect hiding place. Usually I am concerned by increasing global problems and have lots of questions to humanity and to myself, I seek the ways of self-determination and ways to feel myself part of the world. Thus, my concept of home was born, based on deeply intimate premonitions. My home is a mysterious imaginary place, a kind of metaphysical shelter where I can hide to survive the impending apocalypse.
I think that my way of life have greatly influenced me. I have always felt a strong aspiration to help. For several years I worked a volunteer in an animal shelter in Moscow, and now I help small shelters in St. Petersburg. What I have seen over the years has shaped a definite world outlook in me. When one sees so much injustice, cruelty, violence, grief around, one wants to chuck one’s hand in, but even more often I wanted to reach people, make them muse about what they do to themselves, to animals, to Earth. Over time, it became very difficult to hope. People who help are in the minority and thus often feel despair, helplessness. It seems that nothing can be changed and the whole world goes to hell. So it was with me. Perhaps, with a desire to free myself, to express myself my conscious interest to photography has begun. It turned out that there are many ideas and I would like to say a lot, but how to form a statement that will be simple and clear to any person? This I still have to learn.
For that reason as to share personal feeling of Home, I am participating in a collective exhibition in a small hotel in St. Petersburg. It features works of eleven Russian photographers, visually different but nevertheless united by the common theme. This was completely new experience for me, as for the author. The need to embed my story into the unusual space forced me to review and rethink lots to make it absorbing for the viewers.
I am very interested in documentary photography and the way it turns into an art photo. So I’m exploring this border area. I’m attracted to the opportunity to create photo essays, long-term stories. I would like to make a book on ‘Sanctuary’ story as well. And of course, I’m going to continue explore photography.
Influences, etc. : The main things that give me inspiration are yoga practice and travelling. As for the photography, I am absolutely in love with Josef Sudek still life and Sebastião Salgado’s photos. They are true masterpieces to me, perfect and deeply touching. Among modern photographers Alec Soth, Nadav Kander, Sally Mann are my favoutites. The painters I like a lot are Caspar David Friedrich, Piranesi, Bruegel, Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dalí, Edward Hopper. I spend much time reading. Especially I love Russian poetry by Gumilyev and Lermontov. I like to dream with Ray Bradbury, Strugatskys novels and films of Tarkovsky and Wim Wenders. I can send hours in museums of Hermitage and dream of visiting Louvre and Uffizi gallery. I find inspiration in everyday life. And try to do my best to make the world better and make myself useful.