Prom 7 days in Ukraine: Michal Chelbin’s ideal photograph | Artwork and structure

Two issues especially have generally drawn me in my function: adolescents and costumes. I am interested in the age, all around 16 and 17, that is comprehensive of changeover. All through those people a long time there is confusion everywhere you go: confusion about roles, confusion about gender. There are a lot of improvements for persons to offer with.

In 2008, I travelled to Ukraine to acquire images of young children for the duration of the 7 days of their prom that marks the close of their college many years. They are very younger but they are getting into a stage in their life in which they are expected to act like older people. The prom is an instance of this. They don’t generally come to feel cozy in the outfits they’re donning.

I favored the shots from the proms but at to start with I did not do just about anything with them – they went into a drawer for a long time. But when I begun doing work on a book about costumes and uniforms, shooting trainee matadors in Spain and armed service boarding educational facilities in Ukraine, I resolved to return to shoot a lot more proms. I realise they shared a similar concept.

I satisfied Katya although shooting groups of young children at her university in the suburbs around Kyiv in 2019. She was 17 and was pretty keen to have her photograph taken. Looking close to the college for sites to do a solo shot I came throughout the nurse’s workplace. I took Katya there and the nurse was in there at her desk getting notes. I didn’t want to disturb her work but she was so targeted on what she was carrying out it didn’t make a difference. I questioned Katya to sit in the room and the nurse just retained on carrying out her factor. I definitely liked the setup, it reminded me of the Vermeer painting, Girl Creating a Letter With Her Maid. We did a several more photographs with each other but this is the a single that I liked the ideal. If there is some uncertainty or apprehension in Katya’s expression then I do not imagine that’s to do with the nurse or getting in front of the digital camera – it is the age she’s at.

This graphic is a blend of documentary and staged photography. Visually I’m generally wanting for these moments wherever factors get combined. There is the contrast among aged and younger, the simple fact that somebody is wearing her very best gown and a sash though the nurse is wearing a very uncomplicated dress. One particular is looking specifically at the digital camera and the other ignores it. Katya is dressed as a girl but she’s nevertheless a woman. I truly feel there’s anything really reliable about it.

I usually shoot on movie – I hardly ever use digital. I do not use artificial lights, possibly. I’m drawn to paintings total of purely natural gentle, specifically baroque and Renaissance paintings where the mild in them is usually from windows. My sets are usually quite silent and effortless. I don’t carry a large amount of devices – just a Hasselblad on a tripod – simply because that can enable me achieve the rely on of my subjects. It also aids me be extra spontaneous and intimate. I feel this is why the nurse was capable to have on undertaking what she’s carrying out and didn’t experience the need to go away although we shot. It’s critical not to intimidate topics and to make items feel as purely natural as probable.

Ukraine fascinates me – the aesthetics and the interiors of the eastern European state are a serious combine involving aged and new. In a large amount of the educational facilities I frequented, gender roles are very well outlined: the women master to be “girls” and dress in pink, and the adult men have a lot more masculine roles to acquire on.

Most of the dresses my subjects are wearing were being presented to them by their mother and father. They’re often oversized and they can seem like young children wearing adult clothes. I assume there is something unfortunate about the anticipations positioned on people at this age. This is specially the situation in areas which have rigid policies on boys needing to behave like adult men, even however they can be quite fragile. We are all human beings comprehensive of contradictions and this age is very extreme. What I hope is that, even if someone has to dress in costumes or uniforms and act a part which they are not self-confident in, they will finally be ready to come across them selves.


Michal Chelbin

Born: Israel, 1974.
Trained: Masters in images at WIZO Haifa Academy of Artwork and Structure.
Influences: Vermeer, Caravaggio, Velasquez, Diane Arbus, August Sander.
Superior position: “My initial monograph printed by Aperture in 2008.”
Lower stage: “Developing rolls after a shoot and obtaining out nothing at all is there!”
Leading tip: “Follow your intuition.”

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