German photographer in Russia: “More than Putin, gas and the conflict” (ZDF, Germany)

Photographer Frank Herford (Frank Herfort) knows Russia as few Germans. He’s been living there for 13 years, traveled all over this country, as they say, backwards and forwards. In an interview to our TV channel, he talked about his adopted country.

ZDF: You 2007 live in Moscow, but regularly visit and work in Berlin. Where you often see “strange people” at the household level?

Frank Herford: Perhaps, in Moscow more of these Hedonists who have to contend with harsh living conditions, but finding a truly special way. In Berlin it is rather “strange people” living in luxury conditions, artists, nerds and hipsters, who want to show others their toughness. In Russia, however, I find the daily lives of many people “strange”.

— What brought you to Russia and forced to stay there?

Being a native of the former GDR, I actually wanted to get acquainted with the West, studied in Hamburg and was going to write a thesis in London. But I have several times visited Moscow, and in Siberia and gradually became attached to Russia.

And then I decided to take another diploma and went to write it in Moscow — and in the end, my work has received several prizes. On the order of one log I after a while again went to Moscow and I suddenly thought, “Oh, here!” In the end, I began to work in Russia and I was everywhere welcome. But through working in Moscow I found and their happiness.

— Many Germans make up the idea of Russia first policy of Vladimir Putin. How freely do you work there?

— I have never felt that I was someone limited in work, although I work with a number of international publications. Once we are commissioned by the magazine Stern went to Chechnya. We needed a great number of accreditations from the Russian interior Ministry, and we definitely watched, but no one has ever stopped us in the work. But I should also say that I am generally a little touch on political topics.

— Your impressions about driving in Russia you are posting in the photo album “Russian fairy tales” (Russian Fairy Tales). As in these photos, the stories, and how much reality?

— I think between the Russian reality and a fairy tale it is possible to draw Parallels. In my opinion, in this country and its people have some kind of magic. In any case, Russia is much more than Putin, gas, oil, oligarchs, conflicts in Crimea and Syria and stereotypes about vodka. In my photos I show the everyday life, but also try to allocate some or other stage lighting effects.

— What are your main impressions about the Russian society?

— Russian have in common is that they have in the first place is family. Family is most important to them. Many imagine Russian sullen people, but I see them here quite different: open, cheerful and hospitable.

Of course, there are serious contrasts in society, the differences between rich and poor, between urban and rural areas. Sometimes just a couple of kilometers away from Moscow glamor, and the feeling, if he found himself in some other world. Oh Yes, Russian United by something else: the hatred of the Muscovites! (laughs) all over the country people say: “We are here all we do is plow up a sweat, and in Moscow they burn money earned by us”.