Film Photography News — August 2021 Recap

A Look Inside Moscow Dayze 2nd Ed. Photobook

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What’s new?

This year’s July was hot with news of the new emulsion and new gadgets. In contrast to that, August seems to have been rather slow. Perhaps, the film photography community is taking a breather — I certainly have been enjoying my days off in the beautiful British Columbia’s mountainous forests. 🏕 This is also why this email is late — sorry!

To make it up for the lack of the usual product launch coverage, film price and discontinuation updates, I’ve decided to instead include a few free chapters from the recently-updated Moscow Dayze 2nd Ed. photo book.

Moscow Dayze book chapters.

Moscow Dayze is a hand-made 74-page photobook — a personal project of mine that tackles culture shock, death, and beauty. Not many people got to see it in full just yet, but those who have, say this:

I love it! I couldn’t put it down since it arrived on Saturday. It’s mesmerising. Very heartfelt and wonderful images, and excellent writing.

Danilo Leonardi.

I love the way you selected the photos to match the text, and the words to match the feeling the photos evoke. There is a strong quality of the photographic concept, and obviously a great selection of images, but what stands out is the overall feeling of memory and nostalgia, as filtered through the emotions of a grown man who steps back in time, when both personal and general history has changed so dramatically. I also love the layout of the spreads, so congratulations from my part, I am truly happy I returned from vacation to such a well done trip down memory lane.

Crina Prida.

A huge part of the Moscow Dayze experience is flipping through the hand-assembled pages that I bound at home using an improved version of this technique. Still, it is not just the paper and glue that make it worthwhile.

I thought of a few ways to present those chapters digitally while preserving as much of the in-hand tactile feel as possible. In the end, I resolved to publish film photographs of the book followed by transcripts for easy reading. So here they are, starting with the book cover and immediately diving into the introduction:

Moscow Dayze — Introduction.

How often do you visit your childhood home? Do you still live there? Is it still yours? Does it belong to someone new? Or is it gone?

I’ve changed my address at least eighteen times, not counting the backpacking months in Southeast Asia when there was none. Out of all the places I’ve called home, my grandparents’ tiny concrete box in the Moscow suburbs is still the longest-lasting one: eleven years.

The last thing I remember about that place is the hug I gave to my grandpa before moving with my mom, dad, our dog, and our stuff to Toronto.

I had always intended to visit, but military conscription and immigration laws pushed the trip back by years. School, work, travel, dual citizenship, a grossly-expired passport, and the confusing, inefficient Russian bureaus turned the wait into a double-decade.

Once it finally took place, death, lousy weather, and awkward timing tainted my long-deferred trip with gloom.

All the photos in this book — except for the next two — were exposed as I wandered around my childhood streets, witnessing my past life’s foggy memories materialize: familiar, enchanting, and repulsive all at once.

Note 1: There’s something hidden in the book’s construction that can not be easily seen in a photograph. The sheet (above) on the left, which features dark blocky windows on an inverse Dutch angle is printed on a thin sheet of paper, unlike all other pages of the book, made from recycled coffee cups. The result is a particularly rich ink saturation and a distinctive feel that comes with a page, nearly half of which’s weight is printer ink.

Note 2: The photographs and the transcripts of the book posted here are from the second edition, available on Etsy. There may still be a few copies of the first edition available, which feature a different book cover and a few small changes in the text.

Moscow Dayze — Chapter I: Bad News.

Late 2019: my grandmother visits clinics and stays in hospitals with increasing frequency. I know she doesn’t have much time, though her confident, kind voice over the telephone leaves me content and oblivious.

2020 is the year I was hoping to finally fly to Moscow, hug grandma, and maybe even introduce her to my wife. The frustrating journey through the Russian consulate’s web of fees, changing rules, and multi-year delays was nearly complete.

I got the news of her passing early in January 2020. A week later, I learned of the funeral from my mother over the phone. She sounded scared and lonely in a country she no longer knew.

Having paid the “emergency” processing fees, I finally got the papers and booked an eight-day return flight.

Moscow Dayze — Chapter II: The Flight.

Unpleasant. Loathsome. A gruelling 36-hour journey in crammed cabins through terrible weather. The descent had finally resolved my disturbing expedition with the dark, snowy outskirts of Russia’s megapolis spiking from under the grey mantle. I softly breathed “Mordor” and thought of how ridiculous this whole thing had been so far.

My comfort rested with the two old cameras in a small backpack under the cabin seat in front of me. After all, I get to travel to a strange “new” place and take pictures.

Aunt Masha, dressed in a large fur coat, met me at the airport. Together, we walked towards an old minivan and drove away through the snow-covered highways with my uncle at the wheel.

Last time I saw Masha was also at an airport — in 1999. She was hugging my mom; my mom sobbed softly as they uttered their goodbyes.

As we sped through the streets, we phoned my dad in Toronto and then mom at grandma’s flat. “Welcome back; it’s been a while; who knew it’d take this long.”

A few days later, when the jetlag had finally settled, mom and I went to meet with my half-uncle, Feodor. We ate dinner at a hipster cafe as I observed his gentle influence over mom’s otherwise unyielding opinions. He looked a lot like my grandpa; I ate up his stories about working as a travelling geologist until the topic changed to personal trivialities, and I drifted away.

Moscow Dayze — Chapter III: A Table Full of Artists.

My grandparents were architects, whereas my parents and most of their friends have art degrees. Uncle Dmitri, my dad’s brother, is a theatre professor and a known stage/costume designer. My dad looked up to Dmitri ever since they grew up in Chelyabinsk, became career artists in Moscow, and met their wives through art.

Uncle’s apartment, where mom and I went for our next dinner, is in a historic downtown building with an ancient elevator and creaky hardwood floors. His family lives in a space packed with books and art. It reminds me of an apartment portrayed in the old film “Canine Heart” — a remarkable piece of Soviet cinematography.

I used Aunt Masha’s delicious food at the dinner table as a steady supply of menial work for my jaw to avoid looking awkward — as I didn’t feel like participating in or starting a conversation. Instead, I let my gaze drift across the room and snapped pictures of a “flying cow” and my cousin-actress with her French bulldog.

A table full of artists, and I’m the odd one out.

There are five more chapters in the book, an epilogue, and lots more photographs from the incredible underground Moscow subways. Two editions are currently available for sale: first and second.

1st Ed. features the first print run of this book with its dark inky tones, original text, and the “flying cow” front page.

2nd Ed. features a more controlled ink coverage to help prevent some smudging and a fourth paper component — the thin recycled paper insert. The front page now features a photograph from Moscow’s famous subway system, some text edits, and two more pages of additional photo content.

There are also a few more new arrivals at the Analog.Cafe’s Etsy Shop, FilmBase, that may catch your attention — with more to come this fall! Your support is much appreciated.