Humble characters are the most interesting of all, don’t you think? This is especially true if underneath they possess a deep character that can only be seen in the outward reflection of their work. Vitaly is just such a person and such an artist. I came across his photography in the most casual way, searching for pictures for one of my travel articles. I believe it was a “Best of Russia” photo that led me to know this unassuming person. Most of you know though, talented photographers fit into the category “a dime a dozen” mostly. This is because consumerism has led inextricably to commoditizing each shot, every shutter click having the potential to transport mediocrity or the superb. Like an editor told me the other day, “Best of Russia” means nothing without the cosmos in your favor. And in superbly Russian form, my friend Vitaly has the curse of Achilles – blessed on the one hand and cursed on the other. His story is both typical and atypical, like so many others of his countrymen. Maybe this is some purely Russian phenomenon, the bitter irony of magnificence subdued.
- By Vitaly Vakhrushev
- By Vitaly Vakhrushev
I’ll never forget Vitaly offering to ride the train from Yaroslavl to central Moscow, using his own money and time, to capture my subject under his expert shutter. Back then, a couple of years ago, I was astonished by the sheer generosity and trust of this man – another Russian willing to go the extra mile on a breeze, with no promise or carrot at the destination. How can I make the reader understand, how rare a thing this is for somebody from America? The chances of a professional photographer clicking his camera shutter for free are one in ten million – “unbelievable”, this is all I can remember thinking.
I have no doubt the reader is pondering the ultimate purpose of this story. Well, I’ll tell it straight up. In the last three years, I’ve written more positive words about Russia than any English speaking writer on this world. Of this I am certain. This is less important than the reason for a few thousand articles. People like Vitaly Vakhrushev are the reason I study and report on the truth in politics and this new Cold War. And this is the common thread you’ll find in all of those who turned activist for peace with Russia. I’ll not venture too far down this road, my book is coming out soon. What’s important is the debt owed to people like Vitaly, to the dozens and dozens like him who offer a hand of friendship where others might as easily shun a foreigner. The reason for this story today is to promote a great human being, and to pay a debt I would never be asked to pay. Let the images I provide be an advertisement for great Russians, and in particular the photographic genius of my friend.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.