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Yes, the Aral Sea does actually exist! Aïnour (Moonbeam in Kazakh) is a young woman who was part of a group of youngsters whose teacher took them on an excursion to find the Aral Sea, close to twenty years ago. Once, the Aral Sea was one of the largest landlocked bodies of water on the planet; however, it is drying out, which has led to progressive shrinking. Today, it has been broken down into a number of smaller partial lakes.

In 2003, Claudine Doury accompanied a group of around 20 students on an outing. The photographer had met their teacher, Dschanat Djaparowna, earlier on during her trip through Kazakhstan; and the teacher had explained how she had to prove time and again to her students that the Aral Sea does actually exist. Doury remembers: “The youngsters in the small town of Aralsk didn't believe their teacher when she spoke about her childhood, and about how the sea bordered the town, and that she would swim in its waters after school.” By 2003, the sea had withdrawn so far that the youngsters had never seen even a trace of the water. “As a result, Dschanat decided to take her students, every year, so that they could see – or, better said, find – the sea, which is now over 100 kilometres from the town, lost in the middle of the steppe. This was how the young woman, Aïnour, discovered the sea for the first time.” The photographer captured the moment in a picture: “It's a sea that you don't see coming – with no sound or traces of humanity. It's only the smell of salt that points to it being there. The youngsters threw themselves into the water, and Aïnour decided to write a poem about the rediscovered sea.”

Doury and her Leica took countless pictures of the youngsters on that special day. “Always working with discreet Leica M cameras allows me to concentrate on the encounters – to be more present with the situations and the people I meet during my work,” the photographer explains. (Ulrich Rüter)

Image: © Claudine Doury

Equipment: Leica M6 with Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH.

Issue 8/2022 of the LFI magazine carries a comprehensive portfolio.

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“On this day, I was biking around down town with my camera hanging around my neck, taking pictures as I passed people on the sidewalk and on the road. This particular ice cream truck caught my eye and I slowed down. From a distance, I could see this kid walking towards to me while I was stopped in front of the ice cream truck.

I always do my best to predict situations before they happen, and this was one of them: I was just hoping that he and this truck would meet in one frame, and that he wasn’t going to turn sooner. In order to not have him glance at me, I raised my camera just as he passed the truck. There were many people walking back and forth on the sidewalk but I specifically wanted him in the frame, and waited for him patiently. The colour of his hair and of the truck obviously complement each other very well. What I love the most is that his hair resembles ice-cream in a cone. It’s the magical absurdity I love in everyday life.”

Text and image: © Dzesika Devic

Equipment: Leica M6 with Summicron-M 35 f/2 Asph.

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"I took this photo in 2018 in the city of Drohobych – a city of regional significance in Lviv Oblast, Ukraine. As I was passing by the open door of a hair salon, I noticed this woman going through a hairdressing procedure. A hairdresser was bustling around her, and it was impossible to simply pass by this scene. The challenge of such shots is to not frighten away the "moment". So I went into the establishment, started a casual conversation with the salon employee, while watching the protagonist of the photo shoot. Having become part of the environment, I remained to capture the decisive moment.

This is one of the first shots that formed the basis of my Out of Time series. I travelled through Ukraine to work on this series, and I tried to show the viewer that in some places time seems to have stalled in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Mostly, these places are the legacy of the Soviet regime, which seems to have taken root on a subconscious level, and continues a life of its own, despite the economic, cultural and social changes going on around it. So basically, Out of Time is a project about a past that should have been erased by the present...

The use of an analogue camera for this project was extremely important to me, as the film itself became part of the project concept. My emphasis on this theme, combined with the analogue photography process, resulted in a very special timelessness.”

Text and image: © Taras Bychko

Equipment: Leica Minilux Zoom

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