To be honest, quarantine has had a positive effect on my photography practice and career. I left for China, Zhengzhou back in October 2019, and I kept in my head the thought to make a project there. Photography was not the main purpose of this trip, more of a bonus. By that time, I had finished studying at the Docdocdoc school (St. Petersburg photography school). I hadn't done my annual project and was somewhat upset with it.
In China, I decided to take a break from my studies, but to continue make photography anyway. However, the topics for the documentary projects that interested me were too complicated to be put into practice. They concerned those things that China would hardly want to go public, so I would have access issues, issues with the police in general. In the meantime, I began shooting scenes from my own life, sometimes portraits, playing with the interior, cases of how the new life influenced me.
When the quarantine began, my shooting tactics began constantly change. At first I was kind of paranoid and was afraid to go for a walk in the streets and take pictures openly, so I hid the camera or quietly took pictures on the phone. Then, when the streets began to look completely post-apocalyptic, and it became clear that you could go out fearlessly, I started shooting out in the open.
In some way, I was lucky to be in China during the start of the pandemic. The experience of quarantine was still unknown to the rest of the world, and there definitely was no even a thought in my head that this state of living could soon become some kind of common experience for the modern society everywhere. My acquaintances and friends in Russia went to work, visited museums just as if nothing had happened and were watching at China alarmingly. I saw many Russian-language chats that mainly contained memes and conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus, etc. In January-February I saw lots of photos of Chinese people using strange objects instead of masks. I started shooting my parodies of this kind of pictures, trying to overcome the horror of rising fear through absurdity.
When those photographs I've made were sent to the editors, the desert landscapes provoked interest in the media. Thematical publications in Medusa and The New Republic came out, I also cooperated with Novaya Gazeta for a special report. Later my self-portraits ended up being published in some other media also.
As for my income, I'll be honest: for last couple of years I have been a precarium. I am not attached to any company or project; photography has never been a main source of income for me. However, this year photography saved me. I haven't been working for half of January and whole February and was running out of my savings. Opportunity to make some money came unexpectedly when the publication of my photos began. In about one and a half or two months, they brought me as much as my approximate monthly income. With the help of those photos I was able to move to Thailand to wait the quarantine's end there.
Now I have taken a short break in my photography practice but I am doing the promoting of my projects. The second series of China came out in online exhibition in the ZGA gallery recently. I see this as a worthy achievement. I'm thinking over a photo book, and I like this unhurried process.