Vladimir Semin is a very unusual photographer. During his work for the USSR’s major news agency, the Novosti Press Agency, which strove to shape a positive image of the Soviet Union for the rest of the world, Semin depicted what was really going on there.
Only in the late 80s, his talent was brought to light after his participation in a photo project A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union, in which 50 Western and 50 Soviet photographers captured the life in the USSR in a one day’s time.
Having received the prestigious W. Eugene Smith Grant in 1995 for his independent projects, Vladimir Semin still remains the only Russian photographer who received this grant. He was also a prizewinner of the World Press Photo contests of 1996 and 1997. And then, in the late 1990s, he just upped and left to shoot New York and its residents, and there he stayed.
So, when Vladimir Semin was back to Moscow to hold a series of workshops, at which he was detailing the projects he had been working on all these years, I immediately signed up to attend. For me, it was a big event to listen to him and make his portrait.