Kyrgyzstan
Yuri's earlier wanderings across a land cosy, tender and gentle
The mood of many of the photos here is dark. At the time I was interested in vast, empty spaces of desolation and ruin. I was not interested in the human presence - only if it happened to be there, it would add something to the photo, and I could not avoid it. I would not seek intentionally human presence - I'd even avoid it as much as possible.
Some of the things pictured here are not there any more. Most notably the pen factory in Min Kush. Back in 2016-17 you could still find boxes with old Soviet pens, laying around the industrial ruin. The pens are now gone, the art is gone, the roof and walls are gone, too. It's just a memory, that's all that's left. The miner's mine also closed down. The 70 or 80 miners are now looking for alternative work.

My photography has changed since. My heart beats fast when I see a group of people, at markets, on the street. I feel need to capture the human condition, emotion. I am after that special glance, look, face, feeling. I revel when I get several layers of human emotion on camera. I now shoot at f 1.4, as wide open as possible. I choose carefully where I want to focus on, and the rest of the image I like blurred. This is one difference from the photos you see here - at the time I used to shoot between f 4.5 and f 8.
Most of the images are taken in winter. I love how bleak and dark many abandoned places look in winter. And that amazing smog/fog you get when people start up their coal and wood stoves. Not good for breathing, but amazing for photography.
I love animal markets. I wish I had more time to shoot them, but they are held only on Sundays. I think this could make a wonderful photo project.
I also love Ferris wheels, and I think abandoned Ferris wheels of the former Soviet Union can make a wonderful project. We have a few amazing ones in Kyrgyzstan - two of them you see here.
None of the photos are heavily edited. At the time, I would not use photoshop. Just a bit of contrast, but that was all. I have a lot of newer photos from Kyrgyzstan but the ones here are special to me. I was nearing the end of my PhD. I could enjoy much more freedom, and I did - walking, stopping, gazing at the void, trying to find meaning behind much of the Soviet desolation.
This was the most interesting time of my life. It all ended when my mum passed away in February 2016. My photography, and everything else, changed. I lost that easiness. I've now found my voice, but there was a long time when I thought I will never have it again.
Photography and text — Yuri Boyanin