Ljalja Kuznetsova is a world famous photographer and one of the very few people who was allowed to document daily life in the gypsy community. She did it not from the outside, but she challenged stereotypes, focusing on their inner world. This is a very closed community and it took her many years to win their trust and be let in.

Lyalya Kuznetsova, photographer. Ляля Кузнецова, фотограф © Sasha Krasnov - Portrait Photographer

Separately, it should be noted that this happened in the late 70’s in the USSR, whose official policy was aimed at eradicating the nomadic lifestyle. Therefore the challenges Ljalja Kuznetsova was facing were enormous, as the gypsies were simply afraid to let any unknown person inside their community, expecting that repression against them might follow.

Kuznetsova filmed a lot inside the community, particularly some of the last gypsy camps in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and even in the Odessa steppes. And then she released a photo book, the preface to which was written by famous Magnum photographer Inge Morath.

Now Ljalja Kuznetsova makes rare public appearances, and therefore I was bound to attend her workshop because there is always something to learn from her.

© Sasha Krasnov