The Russian photographer tells us about childhood encounters with bears and why he won’t miss an opportunity to take a picture
Bez Uma only picked up a camera a year ago, but he’s already created an impressive body of work. The self-taught photographer captures his everyday life in Moscow, and creates dreamy pictures infused with bright sunlight, simplicity and humour.
Dazed Digital: What made you want to become a photographer?
Bez Uma: I used to think that inside my head was a good enough place to keep precious memories, but unfortunately you can't always fully rely on memory. I decided to start shooting to collect all the images I want to recall later.
DD: What was your childhood like?
Bez Uma: I spent my childhood in Yuzhnoe Chertanovo, it's a district in Moscow which isn't always safe, especially at night. We played football in a nearby forest, and when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, we stopped encountering the bears that used to surprise us occasionally. I still don't know where they could have gone. My parents joked that they got fed up with all the football.
DD: What do you do now?
Bez Uma: I work as a journalist in a Russian newspaper and write news stories based on people's real life experiences. For instance, an interview with the metro employees, or one with a man that always carries a full survival kit including weapon and medicine.
DD: You have a series of pictures taken by a camera phone - what appeals to you about using a camera phone?
Bez Uma: I’ve tried to convey that equipment really doesn't matter, but your eyes do. The purpose of this series was to capture the cinematic moments in real life using a simple camera phone that's always in your pocket and allows you to take images at any time
DD: There is one girl in many of your photos - how do you choose your subjects?
Bez Uma: The girl with the long hair is my main subject, my lover and my muse. She inspires me. Choosing any other subjects is simple — it all depends on whether they are telling a story or not and if they’re creating emotions or not.
DD: What are some of the themes in your photography?
Bez Uma: Most of the themes begin with the letter D — dreams, days, denial. Damage. Defence.
DD: What is it about a scene or situation that calls out to be photographed by you?
Bez Uma: It must evoke the feeling that if I don't take a picture of it right now, the missed opportunity would haunt me for the rest of my life.
DD: What are some of the things that inspire you?
Bez Uma: My inspiration comes from small things in everyday life, like decayed piano keys or old ladies whispering to each other. Besides that, music has really shaped my life: I love listening to the Magnetic Fields, David Sylvian, The The and numerous shoegaze bands — Paper Armies, Chapterhouse or Telescopes.
DD: Who or what would you love to photograph?
Bez Uma: I'd love to have the ability to penetrate into things without damaging them in any way — clouds, trees, stones — and photograph their interior.
DD: Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
Bez Uma: Yes. I've just returned from Saint Petersburg with some new material to display.
DD: What are some of your plans for the future?
Bez Uma: To finally get some sleep.